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Security vs. Freedom: the False Choice

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by BROWNer, Jul 1, 2003.

  1. BROWNer

    BROWNer Guest

    Security vs. Freedom: the False Choice

    By Jeff Milchen
    June 2003

    When Congress reacted to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, by passing the "Patriot Act" just weeks later, many Representatives agreed to support it only because the most drastic expansions of government power were made temporary. Those provisions will not expire until 2005, but the Bush administration seeks not only to make them permanent (without evaluating their effectiveness or consequences) but to further expand police power.

    Inevitably this will generate renewed debate on "striking the right balance" between freedom and safety. But to have meaningful discussion, the premise that American freedom either enabled the crimes of 9/11 to occur or hinders the effectiveness of terrorism prevention should be scrutinized.

    That premise, underlying the "Patriot Act" and the Bush administration's draft Domestic Security Enhancement Act ("Patriot II") doesn't hold up to such scrutiny. No credible evidence has been presented that legalizing more invasive technology and granting law enforcement agencies the sweeping power to arrest, detain and spy on citizens enhances the safety of Americans.

    To the contrary, history suggests that allowing law officials to spy on citizens based on their politics or to search property without judicially scrutinized evidence typically wastes resources. The FBI's COINTELPRO operations of the 1960s and '70s, including the government's Church Commission Report, support this. Martin Luther King Jr., for one, was the target of countless federal agents' investigations which produced mountains of files, but no evidence of dangerous activity.

    Rather than viewing political dissent - the focus of much FBI activity to this day - as a danger sign, authorities should recognize it as a safety valve that enhances stability. When opportunities to create peaceful change are available, people are less likely to turn to violence. America's high level of political freedom contributes substantially to the nation's comparatively low incidence of terrorism.

    Besides, the most dangerous terrorists tend to keep a low profile, rather than advocating publicly for social change. The Sept. 11 attackers, for example, engaged in little or no public political or religious activism.

    Government security agencies did have evidence that should have led to the investigation of some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, but that crucial evidence apparently was lost in an information overload.

    Yet more information overload is what many Bush administration proposals would create. For example, the Transportation Security Administration's controversial Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II (CAPPS II) purports to sort airline passengers according to risk potential. As originally proposed, CAPPS II would have required that air passengers check their Fourth Amendment rights along with their bags by forcing disclosure of extensive personal information in order to fly.
    Travel history, organizations you support, books you bought, and even your credit rating were to be analyzed (no word yet on whether it's being prompt or tardy in paying bills that enhances your terrorist tendencies) to evaluate you.

    Sensibly, the TSA recently yielded to growing citizen opposition and announced it was scaling back the information to be gathered, but it has stonewalled requests for critical information.

    Undermining safety
    Promoters of CAPPS argue that sacrificing privacy will enable most people to check in with less hassle and enable security to focus on "high-risk" passengers. But on closer inspection, this arrangement would undermine air safety. Intelligent terrorist groups readily could use these ratings to increase their odds of success. By thoroughly testing who among them gains easy passage, they could minimize risk of a thorough search at the critical time.

    Perhaps the single most effective measure needed to prevent a Sept. 11 repeat has been implemented with zero cost to freedom -- securing cockpit doors. Banning such potential weapons as box-cutters onboard was also a sensible move that left freedom unscathed.

    Another effective measure, bag matching, could be implemented at a much lower cost than the CAPPS scheme and without encroaching on our privacy. Already in effect at many foreign airports, bag matching simply prevents luggage from flying on the aircraft unless the owner is on board. Though this may not prevent a suicide bombing, unaccompanied luggage bombs caused three of the worst air disasters of the 1980s, including the Pan Am explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland.

    Hiding Dangers from Citizens
    In contrast to common-sense precautionary measures like these, the Bush Administration’s Patriot Act II is brought forward with a few measures that actually could help prevent terrorism surrounded by many that merely move us toward a secretive police state. When Patriot II was leaked to the public last January, a Department of Justice spokesperson denied that it was draft legislation, but just months later on June 5 John Ashcroft asked Congress to enact many of its measures.
    Patriot II would go even further than the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996 in permitting law enforcement to target people based on their politics rather than evidence of crime. It effectively would re-authorize the CIA and FBI to engage in disruption of activist groups -- a practice made illegal only after serious and systemic abuses of that power.

    The proposal also would revoke key elements of the Freedom of Information Act, which prevents government from keeping secrets from citizens unless a true security threat exists. Among other problems, this would place us at greater risk of catastrophic chemical or nuclear accidents by stripping us of our right to know about threats posed by toxins, spills or explosions in our communities.

    Chemical companies are responsible for tens of thousands of toxic releases each year in the U.S. (reported incidents alone). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 120 chemical plants individually could kill a million or more people in the event of an attack or serious accident. The public availability of information, combined with self-interest of local residents, is an important safeguard against such episodes.

    Consider that the 1984 Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) catastrophe in Bhopal, India killed far more people than any domestic act labeled as terrorism. Those deaths resulted from willful endangerment by a corporation cutting corners on basic safety measures combined with a lack of public access to vital information—a situation Patriot II would enable in the U.S.

    An attack on chemical or nuclear plants in the U.S. could kill millions, yet security at these facilities consistently has been proven inadequate during mock attacks. More stringent inspections and security at these facilities are another simple way to reduce vulnerability to attack, but industry lobbying killed even modest proposed security improvements last year. Worse, Congress just revived the perilous, economically unfeasible (without corporate welfare) and rightfully extinct practice of building nuclear plants by authorizing $16 billion of new federal subsidies.

    If we seek to improve security, why do we still lack any explanation of how intelligence that should have prompted investigation of several 9-11 attackers was disregarded or unnoticed? When the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated, investigations began almost immediately. Yet our government waited almost a year to launch an official 9-11 inquiry and then authorized less than one-tenth the budget that Kenneth Starr spent on the Clinton investigations.

    Seeking Courage and Common Sense
    The debate over sacrifices of Americans' freedoms is being engaged against a backdrop of cynicism and the fear of a presidential administration emboldened by disaster.

    As Wisconsin Democrat Russell D. Feingold, the only Senator to oppose the Patriot Act, said, "A number of my colleagues said I was right on the merits but felt they had to vote for it."

    Now, more than ever, we should resist further erosions of our freedom and banish investigations or harassment based on political activity, race or any reason other than tangible evidence of criminal activity. By doing so, we can ensure that law enforcement resources are used most effectively -- pursuing valid leads and suspects of crime, not suppressing healthy dissent.

    Defending our Constitution does not hinder our safety, it enhances it.

    from www.reclaimdemocracy.org
  2. metallix

    metallix Elite Member

    Joined: Oct 7, 2001 Messages: 2,955 Likes Received: 1

    lets not forget this paper.. time is running out.
  3. metallix

    metallix Elite Member

    Joined: Oct 7, 2001 Messages: 2,955 Likes Received: 1
    ^ what do you think? change can only take place with the masses. unfortunately mass communication mediums are utilized towards other objectives...
  4. metallix

    metallix Elite Member

    Joined: Oct 7, 2001 Messages: 2,955 Likes Received: 1
    well what change would you make? answer your own question. this stuff is *not* conspiracy theory. its straight fact. read the article i just posted. it says there gunna record *everything* *everywhere* in cities. again its not CONSPIRACY this is real shit!
  5. metallix

    metallix Elite Member

    Joined: Oct 7, 2001 Messages: 2,955 Likes Received: 1
    haha well..the cops are now everywhere. every block, every corner. they can even look inside your house. they know when you take a shit.
  6. BROWNer

    BROWNer Guest

    yo tease, i want you to get off 12oz, leave your cozy
    mom and pop pampered life and get out into the real world
    and let that ass get uncomfortable.
    pay some rent, buy some groceries
    for yourself, take some fucking interest
    in your future and your kids' future.
  7. ~KRYLON2~

    ~KRYLON2~ 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Oct 13, 2001 Messages: 10,493 Likes Received: 211
  8. Dick Quickwood

    Dick Quickwood 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Aug 25, 2002 Messages: 14,783 Likes Received: 14
    i can see tease sitting there wondering what to do hahaha
  9. Kr430n5_666

    Kr430n5_666 Banned

    Joined: Oct 6, 2004 Messages: 19,229 Likes Received: 30
  10. BROWNer

    BROWNer Guest

    care to elaborate, holy purveyor of cryptic surplus..?
  11. Kr430n5_666

    Kr430n5_666 Banned

    Joined: Oct 6, 2004 Messages: 19,229 Likes Received: 30
    the male = cheesy actor who i find to lack any comical talent

    the female = ugh....i dont even have to explain that one...
  12. BROWNer

    BROWNer Guest


    holy purveyor of cryptic surplus