House Majority Leader Dick Armey, in his markup of legislation to create a Homeland Security Department, yesterday rejected a national identification card and scrapped a program that would use volunteers in domestic surveillance.
Mr. Armey, chairman of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, included language in his markup of the legislation to prohibit the Justice Department from initiating the Terrorism Information and Prevention System, also called Operation TIPS.
Mr. Armey's bill also would create a "privacy officer" in the Homeland Security Department, which he said was the first ever established by law in a Cabinet agency. Mr. Armey said this person would "ensure technology research and new regulations from the department respect the civil liberties our citizens enjoy."[from Privacy Digest]
I was watching TV the other day (I think it was on Pleasentville, which ABC recently ran), and I was shocked to notice someone on TV with a bemused (head tipped down, one eyebrow higher then other, small asymmetric smile) expression on their face.
It occurred to me how rarely I see the more complicated facial expressions on actor's faces. All actors can do fear, anger, happiness, all the basic emotions. But when's the last time you saw mystified (head tipped down, forehead furrowed and eyebrows closer together, slight frown)? Or realization (head slightly up, small nodding, open mouth, eyebrows neutral or slightly up in center)? Or recognition of fact that should have been already known or was obvious (eyebrows high, strong frown only at corner of the mouth, small nodding up and down)?
There are certainly some actors that are capable of the more subtle emotions, but why is it so unusual? Since the advent of the closeup, we can see enough detail on actors to see these expressions.
The Bush administration plans to enlist millions of Americans to spy on their fellow Americans for a program called Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS....
Even if it is limited to public places, the program is offensive. The idea of citizens spying on citizens, and the government collecting data on everyone who is accused, is a staple of totalitarian regimes. East Germany's infamous Stasi internal security system kept files on some six million citizens -- about a third of the country. Fortunately, TIPS is already facing opposition. The American Civil Liberties Union, not surprisingly, has denounced the program. But so, too, has Dick Armey, the House Republican leader. The "Postal Service" has already expressed serious reservations about participating. And the initial version of the bill to create a Homeland Security Department, introduced by Mr. Armey, includes language that would prevent TIPS from going forward.
The Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism tactics -- secret detentions of suspects, denial of the right to trial and now citizen spying -- have in common a lack of faith in democratic institutions and a free society. If TIPS is ever put into effect, the first people who should be turned in as a threat to our way of life are the Justice Department officials who thought up this most un-American of programs.[Privacy Digest]
One year, four months, and twenty-one days ago, I would have taken this for an April Fool's joke of the lowest caliber.
Where's McCarthy when you need him? A little Un-American Activities Committe inquisition directed at the Bush administration might be just what is called for now... let two wrongs keep each other busy so the rest of us can get on living Free lives.
'EFF was advised that Sen. Ernest Hollings has written a letter to the FCC advocating immediate implementation of a broadcast flag mandate -- even without additional legislation. Hollings apparently claimed that the FCC already has, under existing statutes, the authority necessary to require that all manufacturers comply with BPDG rules.'
I question the appropriateness and perhaps even legality (in an abstract theoretical sense) of a member of the legislative branch of the government urging a part of the executive branch to grab power it does not seem to have, because the legislative branch has not granted it. The legislator does not work by fiat, it's his job to legislate. Should he fail in that endeavor, as Hollings has up to this point, he should not go behind the scenes and try to get the executive branch to do his bidding anyhow.
Congress should officially reprimand Hollings for this. (Not that I expect it...)
Paranoid conspiracy theory of the week: In regard to the recent decision to allow the phone company to sell "your name, who you call, and for how long you talk", 'jv42' posts the following on Slashdot:
This means that now all any government agency needs to do is set up a dummy corporation that's an "affiliate", and my phone company will give them unlimited access to all the data about me... Ya gotta admit, it's a neat end run around the laws that restrict government surveillance.
This surprises even cynical old me. This is insane.
Question: Just how low is the bar for being "an affiliate", I wonder? If I was dedicated, could I get there and buy my neighbor's records for my personal perusal? Probably.
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