George Bush Doesn’t Trust Americans

The Headline is Domestic Use of Spy Satellites To Widen
and you’ll notice that no discussion of whether or not this is good or
appropriate policy, is asked for. The President of the United States
doesn’t trust his own citizens to judge his domestic spy program.

The Headline is Domestic Use of Spy Satellites To Widen
and you’ll notice that no discussion of whether or not this is good or
appropriate policy, is asked for. The President of the United States
doesn’t trust his own citizens to judge his domestic spy program.
It may be excellent policy. The judicially approved wire-tap of telephones has proven to be a huge weapon for law enforcement. First, of course, we had to invent telephones.
But having done that and bad guys as well as good guys having taken
advantage of that mind-bending technology, sooner or later rules were
put in place.
We did not, as I recall, hide either the technology or the ability to
use it in law enforcement, from the crooks. We told them they could
expect us (with appropriate court supervision) to tap their
conversations and then we went on to do it. No one questioned actually
telling Al Capone we might listen in on his conversations, because he’d
avoid the net. We knew he would do his damnedest to avoid us and we
knew that his knowing would make him wary and somehow law enforcement
staggered along. It even got an occasional conviction, including Al,
who died in prison.
We survived as a nation of laws. We made it through a cold war
against some of the most powerful nations of the world, who had sworn
to bury us. But we never gave up our regard for law. No
president found it necessary to take them from us by signing statement
or resorting to our most base fears.
We are terrified beyond all comprehension by a minority of bullying
terrorists. These dark and mysterious strangers from the Muslim world
seem to want to fly into our buildings—and perhaps worse. We are told
we cannot allow these terrorists to know we are prepared, cannot tell
them how and why and when we will use our best efforts to track them
down and keep them from making victims of us. Our fears have allowed
and encouraged our government to victimize us.

Post) The Bush administration has approved a plan to expand domestic
access to some of the most powerful tools of 21st-century spycraft,
giving law enforcement officials and others the ability to view data
obtained from satellite and aircraft sensors that can see through cloud
cover and even penetrate buildings and underground bunkers.

program approved by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
and the Department of Homeland Security will allow broader domestic use
of secret overhead imagery beginning as early as this fall, with the
expectation that state and local law enforcement officials will
eventually be able to tap into technology once largely restricted to
foreign surveillance.

Two dudes whose agencies didn’t even exist four years ago have decided
and approved a domestic program to peek into our closet. John McConnell
and Michael Chertoff are the newlyweds sharing the bed of national
security and they answer only to the president. Congress got lost in
the process when this whole disaster called the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 was eased down their compliant Republican throat by Cheney attack dog David Addington.
The supposed Democratic opposition was so afraid of its not-tough-enough shadow that it failed—and continues to fail—to provide even moderate oversight. McConnell and Chertoff are going to supervise themselves. They’re offering us ‘total assurance.’ It’s total bullshit.

the new program, the DHS will create a subordinate agency to be known
as the National Applications Office. The new office, which has gained
the backing of congressional intelligence and appropriations
committees, is responsible for coordinating requests for access to
intelligence by civilian agencies. Previously, an agency known as the
Civilian Applications Committee facilitated access to satellite imagery
for geologic study.

Oversight of the department’s use of the
overhead imagery data would come from officials in the Department of
Homeland Security and from the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence and would consist of reviews by agency inspectors general,
lawyers and privacy officers. “We can give total assurance” that
Americans’ civil liberties will be protected, Allen said. “Americans
shouldn’t have any concerns about it.”

we’re back again to ‘trust me,’ the favorite phrase of the least
trustworthy government to come along since Nixon. Unlike wire-taps,
which require a judge to approve their use, this new age stuff, which
may include Predator drones flying over your particular neighborhood,
will be reviewed by agency inspectors general, lawyers and privacy
officers. The absence of judges, federal or otherwise, in this review
process is not accidental.
Homeland Security, all 220,000 of the precious little snoops,
haven’t yet been able to get anything right, principally because they
run for the most part on the ups and downs and ins and outs of Michael
Chertoff’s (and now John McConnell’s) gut.
For my part, I’m thoroughly tired of having an entire secret section of my government tell me it has the only solution to saving me, but it can’t tell me how it’s going to save me because telling me would compromise national security and that would keep these programs from saving me.
You and I are not terrorists, nor are we children, nor are we (yet)
complete idiots. The government that no one trusts is trying to
flim-flam us. The government that got elected by promising the end of
flim-flam is trying their damnedest to let them.

civil liberties groups quickly condemned the move, which Kate Martin,
director of the Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit
activist group, likened to “Big Brother in the sky.” “They want to turn
these enormous spy capabilities, built to be used against overseas
enemies, onto Americans,” Martin said. “They are laying the bricks one
at a time for a police state.”

It may be a good
idea. It may be a necessary bulwark against those who would do us harm.
But if it is, then the most value will surely come from the widest
possible dissemination of our technological capabilities. We needn’t
disclose the infra-red engineering science behind night-flying Predator
unmanned drones in order to convince terrorists that we are a
particularly tough target. But it is absolutely imperative to have a
national debate about what kind of surveillance we want as a nation and
to have federal, state and local law overseeing the application.
We are a nation of law—at least we used to be, before this president used the signing statement as a weapon against us.
‘Trust us’ has never been a sufficient reason to accept wholesale removals of our individual rights. It’s not merely my opinion
that this is an untrustworthy administration. They have proven
themselves in the role and are their own best shining example of why we
need to question every move they make.
We are not yet Ann Coulter’s or Bill O’Reilly’s America.
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