Saturday, March 11, 2006


So Conservatives Believe in What?

Glenn Greenwald has a must-read post today entitled "A trip down right-wing memory lane----What "conservatives" used to say about the Limits of the Federal Government, the Dangers of Surveillance Powers, and Investigations into Alleged Governmental Law-breaking"

Here is an excerpt:

Let us begin with Sen. John Ashcroft, warning in July, 1997 of the profound dangers posed by proposals for the Federal Government to overcome encryption technology in order to enable the Government to monitor international computer communications (justified by the Clinton Administration on the ground that terrorists use such communications and the U.S. government must therefore be able to monitor them):

J. Edgar Hoover would have loved this. The Clinton administration wants government to be able to read international computer communications – financial transactions, personal e-mail and proprietary information sent abroad – all in the name of national security.

In a proposal that raises obvious concerns about Americans' privacy, President Clinton wants to give agencies the keys for decoding all exported U.S. software and Internet communications. . . .

Not only would Big Brother be looming over the shoulders of international cybersurfers, he also threatens to render our state-of-the-art computer software engineers obsolete and unemployed.

Granted, the Internet could be used to commit crimes, and advanced encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?

The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. . . .

Every medium by which people communicate can be exploited by those with illegal or immoral intentions. Nevertheless, this is no reason to hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our e-mail diaries, open our ATM records or translate our international communications.

Those who made such arguments in 1997 were great patriots defending American liberty. Now, anyone who says such things is -- according to Ashcroft himself -- an al Qaeda ally who is working subversively to destroy America.

Read the whole piece here:

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