Ivo Skoric on Wed, 20 Nov 2002 20:45:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Giant step forward...

>>WASHINGTON--A secretive federal court on Monday granted 
police broad authority to monitor Internet usage, record keystrokes 
and employ other surveillance methods against terror and 
espionage suspects.

In an unexpected and near-complete victory for law enforcement, 
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review overturned a 
lower court's decision and said that Attorney General John 
Ashcroft's request for new powers was reasonable.

The 56-page ruling 
removes procedural barriers for federal agents conducting 
surveillance under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
[http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/50/ch36.html] (FISA). The law, 
enacted as part of post-Watergate reforms, permits sweeping 
electronic surveillance, telephone eavesdropping and surreptitious 
searches of residences and offices.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Ashcroft applauded the 
ruling, characterizing it as a "victory for liberty, safety and the 
security of the American people."

Ashcroft said the ruling marks a new era of collaboration between 
police and intelligence agencies such as the CIA and the National 
Security Agency.

"This decision allows law enforcement officials to learn from 
intelligence officials, and vice versa, as a means of sort of allowing 
the information to flow from one community to another," Ashcroft 
said. "This will greatly enhance our ability to put pieces together 
that different agencies have. I believe this is a giant step forward."

I guess, we should expect Ashcroft to tell us about the three 
truths, now, that he adopted the jargon of Chinese Communist 
Party aparatchiks, talking in giant steps.

Only, I don't see a step, that grants more authority to government 
over the people, necessarily a step forward. Not in terms of 
democracy, civil and human rights, at least.

On the other hand, if the attorney general agrees that "the ruling 
marks a new era of collaboration between police and intelligence 
agencies" - the kind of collaboration foreseen by the 484 pages 
Homeland Security Bill, why does his government still insists on 
that Bill? Isn't this bureaucratic redundancy?

Indeed, the Homeland Security Bill is a GIANT step, actually the 
biggest change in federal government since the Declaration of 
Independence. I think that every American should have a chance to 
read what is written in those 484 pages before they become a law. 
How else would this still be the country of "We, the people..."?

Therefore, I tend to agree with one of the last remaining true giants 
of the New Rome, senator Robert Byrd, in his insistence on 
debate. "In this effeminate age it is instructive to read of courage. 
There are members of the U.S. Senate and House who are terrified 
apparently if the president of the United States tells them, urges 
them, to vote a certain way that may be against their belief." - he 

Land of the free, home of the brave is a Hollywood myth. In reality 
this is becoming the land of enslaved, home of the scared.



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