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01/31/2004 Archived Entry: "Privacy"

Cartoon Fix: Mike Luckovich on Bush's spending like a drunken sailor (apologies to drunken sailors everywhere) "Curbing Spending"; Ben Sargent's "White House Intelligence Model"; and, a large serving of the political cartoon styling of Kevin Tuma. Enjoy!

Well...it worked for Claire Wolfe and there are few women in whose footsteps I so confidently tread. Translation: Claire mentioned that she needed a digtal camera in order to include photos in her blog and -- voila! -- a reader found an old one, presumably tucked away on the upper shelf of a closet. If a reader has a digital camera sitting on a shelf to donate to McBlog, I promise to start posting pictures of the ever-wayward Sam, my shy dog Fiona, the farm in its various aspects through the seasons, the Stooges' (our five cats') incessant antics and ploys...in short, I will post the visuals to my current text descriptions of Life on the Farm.

Jay Cline, in an article in Computer World (tekkie 'zines seem to be on the front lines of monitoring privacy), warns us and then asks a key question, "It's only a matter of time before driver's licenses become the de facto U.S. identification card. Our licenses already have most of the features of a national ID card, and state governments are hard at work improving what little they lack. From there, it'll be only a small step for America to adopt a full-fledged national ID card. What should freedom-lovers do about it?" More than ever, it is necessary for people to take whatever control is left of their own privacy. Continue advocating privacy rights in public forums, by all means, but don't expect your advocacy to have any short-term impact. In today's political atmosphere, standing firm for privacy is like using an umbrella to hold back a tidal wave. Politicians are not going to help you; politicians are the enemy of privacy. This is the lesson, for those who still needed it, of revelations concerning the former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt who enrolled that state in the controversial MATRIX program (Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange) that creates a detailed dossier on every individual in the program -- of course, without telling Utahns or the Utah legislature about the enrollment. With a heavy heart, I agree with Bruce Schneier in his ZDNet article entitled "Total surveillance becoming reality." And he is correct in opening that article with the observations, Last week the Supreme Court let stand the Justice Department's right to secretly arrest noncitizen residents. Combined with the government's power to designate foreign prisoners of war as "enemy combatants" in order to ignore international treaties regulating their incarceration, and their power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or access to an attorney, the United States is looking more and more like a police state." The cutting edge to destroying all civil liberties within the US has been the total disregard of the rights on "non-citizens." Of course, the Bill of Rights does not discriminate between citizen and non-citizen; the Declaration of Rights declares, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." It doesn't mention "citizen" versus "non-citizen"...this is a distinction drawn by the U.S. government to soothe -- in advance -- the feathers of ruffled civil rights advocates. In essence, the State tells them, "Don't worry: we're after *them*, not *you*." But, in going after *them*, the State establishes precedents for wholesale infractions of civil liberties. It accustoms the public to arrest without charges...if circumstances "warrant" it. Then a sleight-of-hand occurs. Instead of just "non-citizens", the arrest happens to those Americans who don't deserve to be citizens: enemy combatants. Establishing extensive and intrusive databases on every individual who resides in the United States or who enters is an integral part of this slippery skid toward a police state.

In the short term, the only effective strategy is to take initiative in such matters as installing a firewall and other protections for your computer. Your refusal to provide information at every practical turn may be the most important safeguard to your family's rights and your personal well-being at this moment. I say "practical" because the State has made it virtually impossible to conduct some aspects of everyday life without complying with Big Brother. If you need to board an airplane to see your family..."Your Papers, Please!!" If you need a driver's license to go to work...ink up those fingertips. So do what you need to in order to live but don't give one scrap of information more to the Bastards. And that word covers the corporations and other "private" spheres that are queueing up to milk your data and turn it over to the State, with a smile, at the first whispered request.

And to repeat myself from an earlier blog entry...Please support this site by making a donation through which you will immediately receive an advanced copy of the anthology "National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition," edited by Carl Watner with Wendy McElroy. For details, click here.

Best to all...stay private,

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