Search This Blog

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What's The Harm?

I am amazed the the lower house has managed to hold the warrant-less wiretap FISA act at bay without their usual craven immediate surrender to the Bushies. I heard from more than one liberal writer that if it makes us safe, "what's the harm?". Well, I'll tell you what the harm is. In my youth the FBI wiretapped citizens regularly for political purposes. Dossiers reminiscent of those collected by the secret police in East Germany were held by director J. Edgar Hoover's office. The CIA ran clandestine operations against leftists all up and down both coasts. The NSA developed the capacity to monitor all phone calls, and uses better versions of the software to this day. People lost their jobs because of government meddling in legal political acts. Perhaps the most famous warrant-less wiretap was used against Martin Luther King, but there were thousands who paid the price of holding some ideas that the permanent government found unacceptable. Conservatives seem to embrace and promote the concept of the security state. A security state is by definition inefficient, and  anathema to market economics. What killed the Soviet economy was as much the drain of resources used to keep an eye on everyone and everything as was central planning. The record keeping was staggering in East Germany and it seemed as if every other citizen was a Stazzi agent, drawing a salary. The police states of Europe never had the technical advantages we have in 2008. With almost infinite space for digital storage and online webcams available to everyone the mind staggers with thoughts of the capacity available to the National Security Agency. 

Anyone who thinks a police state can't happen here just hasn't been playing attention. To turn the right to abrogate the fourth amendment over to the policing agencies is foolish. The secret FISA courts are bad enough, but do allow some oversight that takes the final decision out of the hands of the unaccountable and anonymous agents of an increasingly bully boy government.

No comments: