Sunday, August 5, 2007

Political intimidation bill clears House

The House went along with the Senate's OK of a Bush demand for widened warrantless eavesdropping, reputedly as part of a "terrorist surveillance" program.

OK, so what terrorist in his or her right mind is going to make it easy for the NSA to eavesdrop? Don't you suppose they'll be using strong encryption -- provided by sympathizers in their region -- along with sophisticated measures such as digital pictures containing extra pixels that encode secret messages? True, it is possible to detect and just maybe decipher such messages, but the work involved certainly will slow down intelligence collection.

So then why pass such a bill? As one civil liberties activist noted, what this bill means is that there is a strong likelihood that politically active people will come under NSA surveillance.

The invisible government -- oligarchs, spook honchos, media potentates and a certain element of the hard left -- hopes to cow critics into silence. No? Recall the no-fly program. Many people who did not remotely fit the profile of a terrorist have nevertheless been barred from flying based on their political activism. Recall Bush's recent edict unilaterally authorizing the Treasury to freeze assets of anyone, including Americans, whose political activity was deemed to assist people who might be violent.

Fortunately the surveillance bill has a six-month sunset clause, but Congress nevertheless took a dangerous gamble with our liberty.

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