14 September 2001
Privacy & Liberty—the next casualties?
The fight for continued privacy and personal liberty in the United States is now at hand, thrust to the forefront by the vicious terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
While reading through these links, please keep in mind this statement by one of our Founding Fathers:
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." —Benjamin Franklin
Wired is reporting that "scholars fear that Americans will sacrifice civil liberties" in the short term that will be difficult to win back in the long term.
Many civil liberties watchdogs say freedom in the United States have been slowly eroding for the past several decades. But they say Tuesday's attacks will redouble efforts by the government to infringe on civil rights, and now people won't resist.
Airport security spokespeople say future passengers should expect random checks, no curbside check-in and closer scrutiny. "That's unlikely to deter trained, determined and suicidal terrorists, but it will further subject innocent Americans to arbitrary power," said J.D. Tucille, a writer and editor in Arizona who focuses on civil liberties.
Precisely the point I made yesterday. Looking at the new FAA regulations, I really do not see anything in there that would deter a committed terrorist. All they do is further hinder and inhibit the every-day citizen. Let us not go down this dark road; for then, the terrorist wins, not by killing our countrymen or damaging our property, but by changing our entire way of life, and changing it for the worse.
Today's Federalist Digest covers my feelings perfectly:
There is much talk about increased security measures—few of which will actually mitigate the ability of terrorists to act with impunity. Civil libertarians argue that the current crisis should not be used to further erode our individual liberty and freedom. Indeed, increased physical "security measures" will not stop terrorism. We already have all manner of domestic security measures, and yet four commercial aircraft were hijacked in one hour Tuesday morning. Moving parking lots further from terminals and adding minimum wage "security guards" will not stop this kind of terror. These zealots did not parachute out of those planes before they crashed. They flew them into their targets. A free republic cannot protect itself from this type of terror by adding security layers at airports.
Increasing airport security will do nothing to prevent a well-planned aerosol dispensing of anthrax spores at a Super Bowl game—or any of the other nuclear, biological or chemical threats. We must strike the nations that harbor these terrorists and strike them hard.
13 September 2001
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." —2 Corinthians 4:6-9 NIV
In the wake of the attacks in New York and DC, you may receive emails exhorting your for donations in the names of the victims. Be wary of such solicitations. The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email issued yesterday a warning of online attempts to "fraudulently proft from yesterday's attacks on the USA." — Thanks, Ric!
Not Without A Fight
It has been very heartening to hear reports that passengers on United Flight 93 were more than likely responsible for that plane's crash in a field in Pennsylvania, rather than into the White House or Capitol building. The New York Times has a story that consolidates all that we know to date. — feel free to use our free NY Times login: digitalpembroke/linus
It Has Begun
Just as with after the bombing in Oklahoma City, the trampling of our civil liberties has unfortunately been accelerated. Wired is reporting that the FBI is using the malicious terrorist attack from 2 days ago to install Carnivore email monitoring systems in major ISPs across the country. Most telling is this quote:
An administrator at one major network service provider said that FBI agents showed up at his workplace on Tuesday "with a couple of Carnivores, requesting permission to place them in our core, along with offers to actually pay for circuits and costs."
The person declined to say for publication what the provider's response was, "but a lot of people" at other firms were quietly going along with the FBI's request. "I know that they are getting a lot of 'OKs' because they made it a point to mention that they would only be covering our core for a few days, while their 'main boxes were being set up at the Tier 1 carriers' -- scary," the engineer said.
Both AOL and Earthlink have turned over email and other records to the FBI, which claims to be looking for communications amongst the attack conspirators who allegedly used these providers.
Finally, looking at the new regulations being put into place at our nation's airports at the behest of the FAA, I do not find a single one that would have prevented from what happened on Tuesday from happening again.
If a terrorist wants to get a weapon on board, even a plastic one, they will find a way to get it on board, especially if it's a plastic one. Remember, these men were in our country for months, perhaps even years. They had plenty of time to observe our procedures, our security. It is likely they even "probed our defenses," making these trips multiple times to see what they could potentially get away with. Terrorists have the luxury of time. They will lie in wait, for years if necessary, before they strike.
Let us not overreact to the events which have taken place. Let us approach our future free of emotional overreaction, relying instead on pragmatic, logical intellect, knowing that the United States is the most free nation on the planet. Let us keep it that way.
Computer Industry Stepping Up
When they are not trampling your consumer rights with monopolistic practices, Microsoft occasionally does the right thing with its billions. The company has announced a $5 million cash donation to the "September 11th Fund," established by the New York United Way and the New York Community Trust. It has also pledged another $5 million in technical services, volunteer hours and software to area recovery efforts and organizations. —Thanks, MacCentral!
Apple is pointing people to the Red Cross from its web site, as well as offering free internet access in all of its retail Apple Stores, for those affected by the attacks wishing to communicate with family and friends. Dell and other computer makers have pledged assistance in getting network infrastructure and other computing needs up and running as quickly as possible for full recovery. Several software producers are pledging part of their profits to charities assisting with the attack recovery, especially the Red Cross.
12 September 2001
Down, But Far From Out
Lady Liberty watches over a wounded New York City.
11 September 2001
Today, the United States of America was maliciously attacked by as yet forces unknown. Two hijacked airliners out of Boston's Logan Airport were crashed into the World Trade Center, one into each tower. A third hijacked airliner, out of Dulles, rammed through one side of the Pentagon. A fourth airliner has crashed in a field 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. It, too, was out of Dulles.
It is madness.
6 September 2001
Surveillance does not compute with privacy
World Net Daily has a great editorial on the dangers of public surveillance cameras. Most telling is this quote:
"However, constant surveillance looms on the horizon as a reality. In fact, it was recently revealed that Visionics has received millions of dollars in federal funding to improve its surveillance technology for military and intelligence uses. And FaceIt is being employed by a host of government agencies—including the secretive National Security Agency, the Defense Department and the Justice Department. Unfortunately, looming behind the scenes is a multi-million dollar research effort by the United States government to put into place technologies that have the ability to routinely monitor American citizens."
Think about that for a second; as a taxpayer, you are paying your own government—supposedly for the people, by the people, and of the people—to oppress you by violating your right to privacy.
The Copyright Office released a controversial study last week on the much-despised Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It is controversial in that it gives the DMCA a passing grade, stating that "the actual impact on consumers appears to be minimal." Salon.com has an overview with commentary from several experts that is really good.
The Center for Democracy and Technology released a report over the weekend that rips major finance firms and banks over their privacy practices. It seems that of the 100 companies surveyed for the report, only 22 of them offer consumers a "convenient online means" of preventing the sharing of their personal financial data. Peter Swire is quoted as saying, "We have systems that are robust and strong enough to do important things like move money, but not apparently robust enough to allow privacy choice." Amen.
August's news has been archived.