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Protecting your right to read!


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#21 Uncle Sid

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Posted 27 April 2003 - 11:54 AM

The key thing to take from all of this is that you have to read the government requirements in terms of their stated goals, not what you percieve their worst-case possible intents might be.  For instance: "Total Information Awareness" doesn't mean "total information on everybody in the United States", which even under the two acts so stated would still be illegal, it means "total situational awareness for counter-terrorist activities".

Let's dissect that for a moment....

Precisely what do you do which makes you a terrorist or a potential terrorist every day?  Read books?  Who doesn't read books?  Own firearms?  Isn't the same party accused of creating the fascist database also the one solidly behind gun ownership rights?  Buy things?  What things?  Do you need 2,000 pounds of fertilizer if you work in Information Technology?  

Does anyone here really think that reading a book about obselete WWII techniques or even about Arab terrorist history makes you a terrorist?  Now, hold that thought....

Quote

Yes, they intend to use a supercomputer with the appropriate algorithms to analyze the data.  And presumably they would followup on the redflags the computer throws, otherwise why manufacture them?

Well, that's not a logical progression.  Just because we have 40,000 nuclear warheads doesn't mean we're intending or even would dream of blowing up the world, even though it's theoretically possible.  The point is that you could have a supercomputer spit out all sorts of data every day, but computers don't arrest people or conduct investigations.  Trained agents do that.  While you can spit out a billion matches to some sort of criteria an hour, you can only follow up on so many in a lifetime.  Unless you end up buying 2,000 lbs of fertilizer and are not a farmer, or some such concurrence of suspicious facts that would have been checked out anyhow if they had been discovered via a seperate means, you don't even rate a phone call.  There's not enough people to deal with you.  

Now let's put this all aside and think about something else.  Whereas no one wants to have some sort of governmentally controlled information system on all of your facts, at the same time people increasingly want their government to take care of them in different ways.  When people discuss a National Health Care system, sometimes proponents discuss the architecture that would be required to manage such a system, but it is generally shyed away from.  Why?  Because a national health care system would have to compile a great deal of information about you to even operate properly.  That same information could be tapped just like any counter-terrorist database under consideration now, if one wished to act illegally or simply unethically.  Already Social Security has produced a number that your life now generally relies on in the US, the Social Security Number.  Sure, you don't have to give it to people, but then, they don't have to sell you anything or loan you money either.

The fact is that what the government is doing is simply reacting to the trend towards people relying on government to take care of them.  The only difference now is that it's a little more straightforward of a percieved threat.  The problem is that while we sue the government to stop actions like this, some of the same people and political forces leading the privacy pack are manuvering to push mandates and federal programs that have the same potential for danger.  The difference is the sugar coating.  I'd say that a national database coated in a health care system or national gun registration system  is ten times more dangerous simply because it comes with a system that no politician would dare attack once it was in place.  Even the Republicans wouldn't dare ever touch Social Security, and so the numbers that come with it are the gold standard of information retrival today because we all know that.

The point?  The problem is not as simple as it looks.  You want terrorists caught in an increasingly sophisticated world, you have to collect information quickly and make matches proactively.  As has been said, we have to be both proactive and correct 100% of the time or people die.  The terrorists only have to get lucky once.  To be proactive and be ready you need intelligence.  The other option is failure and people dying....the ultimate loss of your rights.  

Governments have turned totalitarian with a whole lot less technology than this at their fingertips.  If the US is going to turn into a dictatorship, it doesn't need the help of a supercomputer or your bank statements.  However, fighting terrorists does require every bit of muscle that can be thrown at the problem.  Pundits like to tell you the worst case scenarios for situations, that way, they are never wrong.  However, a population that can work with its government and endeavour to understand it rather than simply put it at arm's length or oppose it in a kneejerk fashion will succeed in protecting itself the best from excesses.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. - Jack Handey

#22 Delvo

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Posted 27 April 2003 - 03:59 PM

Uncle Sid, it's not that we think this Act is meant to harass the innocent as in a totalitarian regime. It's just that every time the government "means well", it ends up doing stuff like that anyway. The problem is that this Act sets a precedent and a tone: We can pass any law we want because the Constituion doesn't exist, and we can, under the pretense of doing good, infringe any freedom we want because you have no right to those. We are all that matters, and you are our puppets/toys/servants/zombies.

#23 Cardie

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Posted 27 April 2003 - 10:08 PM

What this does is provide an easily accessible amount of information with which the government can not only deter terrorism but silence dissent. It's not that every one of us would have the Obsidian Order noticing what we ate for breakfast but that  outspoken critics of the government could be confronted with "questionable" reading matter, organizational memberships, travel destinations etc. in order to discredit them and their views. I can see political campaigns now. "Is it true you bought a Dixie Chicks album, rented Bowling for Columbine, and made three trips to Paris during the height of the Iraq war? What does that say about your patriotism, sir." McCarthyism and the blacklist were quite successful at that kind of thing, without nearly this sophisticated level of information gathering.

In the face of your supreme assurance that "it can't happen here," Uncle Sid, I feel it necessary to quote the end of Pastor Niemoller's parable about totalitarianism: "And then they came for me, and no one was left to speak out."

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#24 Avalon

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Posted 27 April 2003 - 10:28 PM

Banapis, on Apr 27 2003, 01:51 AM, said:

Until then, I guess we can all be comforted by the fact the Information Awareness Office has thoughtfully taken down it's warm and cuddly logo.   

However, if you're curious, it has been preserved for posterity HERE.
:crazy:  YIIIII!!!  While I tend to lean towards Uncle Sid's pov, that is just damn creepy.  Looks like something the PsiCorps would wear.   :look:

#25 MuseZack

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Posted 27 April 2003 - 10:51 PM

On a related note, why should anyone be surprised or uncomfortable at the fact that they agree with the ACLU?  I mean, this is an organization that exists solely to protect all of our rights under the Constitution, something most people find to be a good thing.  And while I don't agree with all of their positions, and their First Amendment absolutism makes them easy targets when they defend unpopular viewpoints (a memorable headline from the Onion read "ACLU Defends Right of Nazis to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters"), I'm still glad they're out there.  I actually had a favorite high school teacher who bragged that he was a member of the ACLU and the NRA, and for the same reason:  he was a First and a Second Amendment absolutist.  

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#26 Rhys

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Posted 27 April 2003 - 11:05 PM

Cardie, on Apr 27 2003, 03:58 PM, said:

In the face of your supreme assurance that "it can't happen here," Uncle Sid, I feel it necessary to quote the end of Pastor Niemoller's parable about totalitarianism: "And then they came for me, and no one was left to speak out."
To me, "It can't happen here" is one of the most disturbing things to hear.  How many sci-fi stories/movies/series/episodes have addressed that so directly?

We may be a long way from there now, but being too certain that you can't get there from here breeds complacency, and suddenly you may find you're not where you thought you were headed after all.

Rhys
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#27 Kimmer

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 12:48 AM

MuseZack, on Apr 27 2003, 01:41 PM, said:

On a related note, why should anyone be surprised or uncomfortable at the fact that they agree with the ACLU?  I mean, this is an organization that exists solely to protect all of our rights under the Constitution, something most people find to be a good thing.  And while I don't agree with all of their positions, and their First Amendment absolutism makes them easy targets when they defend unpopular viewpoints (a memorable headline from the Onion read "ACLU Defends Right of Nazis to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters"), I'm still glad they're out there.  I actually had a favorite high school teacher who bragged that he was a member of the ACLU and the NRA, and for the same reason:  he was a First and a Second Amendment absolutist. 

Zack
First, I never said I was "uncomfortable" with my position. Shocked yes, uncomfortable - NO. I'm quite happy with myself, and with the viewpoints I hold. But I'm always open to being swayed in another direction with nice, logical discussions (ask Lil - I can be assimilated. LOL)

Second, why shocked? I guess, Zack, that you would have to really know me, and know that I lean about as far right as well, as many of you lean to the left.  ;)  Trust me ... I don't view the ACLU the way you do, and in my lifetime I can count on both hands and have fingers left over the number of times I have agreed with their stand on anything.

That's why I made the statement that I'm shocked to agree with the ACLU.


-kimmer the right winger  ;)  :p

#28 Broph

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 02:01 AM

Very interesting stuff! When I worked at a video store, we were once asked to look for records that a certain individual had rented videos during a specific time period. Nobody cared what was rented, but they were hoping to prove that the person wasn't in Florida at the time that someone took out a contract to kill someone else. Thinking back on it, I have no idea if we were under court order or if it was just a request from the defendent (the manager told me to do it, so I did it). Interesting though - we have the right to read what we want, but it's sometimes at the expense of letting a drug dealer go free.

#29 jon3831

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 03:24 AM

Rhys, on Apr 27 2003, 01:55 PM, said:

Cardie, on Apr 27 2003, 03:58 PM, said:

In the face of your supreme assurance that "it can't happen here," Uncle Sid, I feel it necessary to quote the end of Pastor Niemoller's parable about totalitarianism: "And then they came for me, and no one was left to speak out."
To me, "It can't happen here" is one of the most disturbing things to hear.  How many sci-fi stories/movies/series/episodes have addressed that so directly?

We may be a long way from there now, but being too certain that you can't get there from here breeds complacency, and suddenly you may find you're not where you thought you were headed after all.

Rhys
Exactly.

There's another parable to this... I'm uncertain of it's origins, but I'm certain it's a play on Pastor Niemoller's parable...

"When they took away the 4th Amendment, I said nothing because I didn't deal drugs.
When they took away the 5th Amendment, I said nothing because I was innocent.
When they took away the 2nd Amendment, I said nothing because I didn't own guns.
And now that they've taken the 1st Amendment away? I can say nothing at all."

And...

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  --Benjamin Franklin
"The issue is not war and peace, rather, how best to   preserve our freedom."
                    --General Russell E. Dougherty, USAF

WWCELeMD?

#30 Delvo

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 04:59 AM

jon3831, on Apr 28 2003, 07:14 PM, said:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  --Benjamin Franklin
I prefer another version of that quote, although I have to admit it doesn't seem to be the original. Rather than judge what people deserve based on choices they have every right to make (foolish or not), my version just addresses the results that MAKE such choices foolish: I'd say that people making that compromise will actually GET neither.

#31 Norville

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 05:06 AM

Quote

Banapis, on Apr 27 2003, 01:51 AM, said:

Until then, I guess we can all be comforted by the fact the Information Awareness Office has thoughtfully taken down its warm and cuddly logo.   

However, if you're curious, it has been preserved for posterity HERE.

:crazy:  YIIIII!!!  While I tend to lean towards Uncle Sid's pov, that is just damn creepy.  Looks like something the PsiCorps would wear.   :look:

Ewww. The PsiCorps phrase "We're everywhere... for your convenience" comes to mind... yuck.
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Rules for Surviving an Autocracy
Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
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