Patriot Act: Spying on Americans for Security
by Fred Reed --show me more like this
It's going fast now. Not just the searches and growing federalization of law enforcement, but now the military as secret police. It's getting dark out there. I'm going to burrow into Tahiti with a brown maiden, change my name to Oogawaga, and hope they overlook me.
In Chicago on the flight to Guadalajara I was as usual detail searched by domestic aboriginals. They say searches are random, but they are lying. They would be random if mediated by a random-number generator, which they aren't. Somebody chooses who to harass. If you have a beard and a cowboy hat, or wear a Harley shirt, they'll randomly select you at least once per trip. I promise.
Which has nothing to do with security. They are searching people of whose appearance they disapprove. Priss cops.
I had my scuba gear in a shoulder bag. Our highly trained security mechanics pawed at it like monkeys who had found a fruit basket. Great. Kink the hose near a connection and I suddenly don't have air at 130 feet. One of these frauds pulled out my dive computer. He looked as if he wasn't sure whether to inspect it or peel it.
"What is this?" he asked.
"A coconut," I didn't say, or I would still be in jail. I did say, "A dive computer."
He looked at it without comprehension, then asked me again what it was. Presumably he suspected that it might have turned into something else in the intervening two seconds. It's how dive computers are. One minute a computer, the next minute a rainbow-colored unicorn.
Brainless thoroughness complemented thorough brainlessness. They pulled everything out, knowing what none of it was, and stuffed it back in, having accomplished nothing. The exercise was pointless. I had two dive lights containing twelve C-cells. They could have been carefully sealed Semtex. The dive computer could have been full of C4.
And the airlines wonder why people fly less.
Tell you what. I'm going to call Homeland Security in an Arabic accent and say, "We sending suicide bomber, he haff explosive prostate. Heeheehee!" Then I'll buy railroad stocks.
Anyway, to continue the grisly chronicles of unwanted security:
Having reached Guad, I was chowing down on really great ribs at Bruno's when a buddy handed me a printout from the Washington Times. First sentence: "Language tucked inside the Homeland Security bill will allow the federal government to track the e-mail, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone and bank records of foreigners and U.S. citizen in its hunt for terrorists."
Bingo. I told you it would happen, but I thought it would be slower-a gradual linking of DMV records state to state, police records becoming electronically available, and so on. Nope. We're going for the whole totalitarian enchilada at once. Yes indeedy. The Mommy State is going to watch us very carefully. For our own good.
Better yet, the Defense Department is going to run the Total Information Awareness program. (I didn't make that name up. I couldn't. TIA in Spanish means "aunt," which fits. Aunty will keep an eye on us.) Yep. The military is going to be another federal police force. You want to be watched, don't you? It's so we won't be terrorists.
Says the Times "Computers and analysts are supposed to use all this available information to determine patterns of people's behavior to detect and identify terrorists...."
Patterns of behavior. Data mining. If you have lunch three times at Kabob Bazaar, and charge ammunition at the shooting range where you take your daughter plinking, and read a book on torpedo design because you like military history-the computers will kick your name out, and the feds will show up to ransack your life.
I'd rather have the terrorists.
Note the attempt to sneak this cybernetic Stalinism surreptitiously into law. Legalizing unlimited surveillance of everybody is not trivial. If a worse law has been passed, I am unaware of it. You don't try to make massive changes in the tenor of society without mentioning it to the society. The White House knows this.
But that is exactly the scam being worked. It is underhanded, deliberately deceptive, far more dangerous to the country than Moslem terrorists. It is the product of minds that have no idea of how America is supposed to work.
If you think Aunty is going to be used only to fail to catch terrorists, you are kidding yourself. Knowledge is power. It gets used. I'm from Washington. I know. For example, the congressman who decides not to run again because his political enemies have discovered his taste for little boys. It happens.
Who of us doesn't have some skeleton moldering in the crawlway? Do you want your wife to know about the time at the Watermelon Growers convention when you ended up in the sack with that gal who, though married, wasn't married to you? You probably aren't going to make waves, are you?
Once the barrier is breached between governmental and private records, surveillance will grow like kudzu-so that we will be safe. If the government can have access to all existing records to protect us, it will shortly want to create new ones to protect us. At Fort Meade in Maryland broods the National Security Agency, which is not supposed to, and may not, spy domestically. It has phenomenal capacity for intercepting, decrypting, collating, storing. Just the thing for prospecting for terrorists, don't you think? You can bet the Homeland Security people have thought.
Fear not, though. These same Homeland Security people have said that, why no, they would never, ever, do anything wrong, and they even have a Privacy Officer to make sure. What could be more reassuring? Building a system to spy on Americans, the government assures us that it won't use it to spy on Americans, and to protect us against the possibility, the government will provide a Privacy Officer who works...for the government.
I never thought I could possibly want Clinton back. The man was a detestable, lying, libidinous psychopath who did chunky interns, looted the White House, and sold pardons like an escapee from Chaucer-but he begins to look like a mere amiable clown. Bush means business.
If you are ever in Papeete, ask for Oogawaga.
Copyright © 2002 Fred Reed.
All rights reserved.