The Freedom of Information and Privacy Act of 1974 has for about 30 years protected all Americans, right-wing and left-wing, political and apolitical, alike, from unsupervised governmental intrusion into their lives. This is the reason that you can obtain your own FBI file, even if it is decorated with a black Sharpie marker in all the interesting spots, and is also the reason public watchdog groups have been able to make sure the government plays by the rules of its own making. Making things public ensures all of our freedom and has kept another Joseph McCarthy or J. Edgar Hoover from abusing the power given to them by the American people.
Enter John Ashcroft.
Enter George W. Bush.
Enter John Poindexter.
There is a shadow lurking over our civil liberties this week at the end of a very lame-duck session of Congress. I’m not talking about that shadow government of unelected officials that are situated somewhere in the bowels of Washington like political C.H.U.D.s practicing their ancient Stone Mason rituals involving pentagrams and MSNBC. Oh no, I’m talking about the Homeland Security Act of 2002 that was passed by the House of Representatives last week and was approved by the Senate Tuesday evening. So while they are practicing their ancient Stone Mason rituals that involve pentagrams and MSNBC we, the American people, may be in for a new chapter of totalitarian rule.
It is called Total Information Awareness and it, my friends, may be watching you soon.
Now the Homeland Security Bill began as a meager 38-page bill, and by the time it left the House of Representatives it was swelled to a gluttonous 438-pages of special interest tack-ons and civil liberty violations. Within these pages is a proposal to grant immunity from litigation to the creators of vaccines, such as Dow Chemical, that harm citizens. There is also an immunity created for companies who manufacture and sell anti-terrorist products. If they do not prevent terrorism, you as a consumer may have no recourse. Homeland Security, you say? Whose security?
And for the grand finale, the 16-page Cyber Security Enhancement Act does two things: creates a life sentence for computer hackers and allows the federal government to obtain anything that you produce electronically without a warrant. That’s right. Your Internet service provider may become the snitch that may now become the source of the governmental investigation against you. Against me, you ask? But I am not a terrorist. Well, maybe not, but with all the injustice and broad language that this bill does provide to aid the total information control of the United States government, it has still yet to give us a definition of what a terrorist is. So without that definition, who are you to say that you are not a terrorist. Echoes of the 1950s, when it became increasing harder for one to say that they were not a communist.
Cyber security also provides governmental agencies the ability to share information with one another, a liberty that was previously unavailable to these agencies because it was illegal under provisions of the Privacy Act. These databases will also be unavailable to public scrutiny, due to an exemption in the law that keeps all of this information private. So no one will know when and what the government is looking at. So while some might claim that your life bites, I will attest that with an ever-increasing dependency on technology, our lives are really bytes and will soon be reconstructed in virtual form for some governmental employee to decipher at their own will and decide whether or not you are suspect, all of course, at our own expense.
So in conclusion, now when I am at home practicing my ancient Stone Mason rituals that involve pentagrams and MSNBC, I will be sure to close all the blinds and turn the computer off, for you never know who will be watching.