At this rate I'm just going to go back to bed & hide
Day before yesterday, Deputy Director of National Intelligence General Hayden spoke before a meeting of journalists, and, while others have commented on some of the more obviously obnoxious things he said, I was disturbed mainly by this comment:
I'm disappointed I guess that perhaps the default response for some is to assume the worst. I'm trying to communicate to you that the people who are doing this, okay, go shopping in Glen Burnie and their kids play soccer in Laurel, and they know the law. They know American privacy better than the average American, and they're dedicated to it. So I guess the message I'd ask you to take back to your communities is the same one I take back to mine. This is focused. It's targeted. It's very carefully done. You shouldn't worry. (emphasis added)
Um, maybe he's been busy & stuff, and hasn't paid too much attention to the news for the last four years or so, but, jee-zus, what are we supposed to do? This White House has been lying to us over and over, from "nobody knew planes could be used as missles" to "we had no idea bin Laden had anything planned" to "massive Iraqi stockpiles of WMDs" to "uranium from Niger" to "the Iraq war will pay for itself" to "they'll welcome us as liberators" to "last throes" to "no idea the [New Orleans] levees would be breached". On top of that, we've seen similar "targeted" spying programs by the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon that have been applied to such "credible threats" as vegans, Catholic Worker and Quakers. (As an aside: how many of the "credible threats" that mandated an Orange Alert over the last couple years were innocent meetings of anti-war activists?) Given this government's general track record of contempt for the truth and for the rule of law, I'd suggest being concered about the NSA program being abused is far from jumping to conclusions but is instead perfectly reasonable.
Meanwhile, the White House has contracted KBR (a division of Halliburton, natch) to
establish[ing] temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.(Props to Blah3 for this story.)
Well, can't see anything wrong with that. "Temporary detention and processing capabilities". Nothing to excite paranoia there. (Though it is odd, isn't it, rightwing snarking aside, that Halliburton gets so damn many contracts from this White House, isn't it?)
Though to put it into context we might want to take a look at (courtesy Blah3, Suburban Guerilla and Mark Crispin Miller) the New & Improved PATRIOT Act Bush wants passed (I'm not a lawyer, far from it, but these don't sound too good even to a layman):
- SEC. 102. , which appears to redefine FISA to apply not just to "agents of a foreign power" (which includes terrorist groups) to simply someone "who is not a United States person"
- SEC. 113. which specifies new offenses that justify wiretapping, including "relating to animal enterprise terrorism" (i.e. animal rights) and, interestingly enough, "torture" (with a wider legal definition of torture than the Pentagon/CIA are expected to hold to)
- SEC. 114., which appears to extend the time a retroactive warrant can be issued from "a reasonable period" to, pretty much, infinity
- SEC. 504., which states that the head of the ATF will be chosen personally by the President (I'm sure all you rightwing Libertarians would just LOOOVE the idea of President Hillary being able to do that...)
- SEC. 590A., which creates a "National Security Division of the Department of Justice", 'cause evidently the FBI just isn't enough these days
- SEC. 602. which not only increases the penalty for trespassing in the presence of The Leader or his retinue ("restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting") but extends this to "an event designated as a special event of national significance", even when "the Secret Service protectee is not in attendance"
but the bestest, most special part has to be:
- SEC. 605. which creates "a permanent police force, to be known as the `United States Secret Service Uniformed Division'" under the direction of the Director of Homeland Security (or, at the President's option, the Secretary of State) which would have all the powers of domestic police forces but would be answerable, apparently, only to the White House. They'd be authorized to "(A) carry firearms; (B) make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony; and (C) perform such other functions and duties as are authorized by law."
Woo hoo! Warrantless searches and arrests! Fun fun fun fun fun. We're not supposed to be suspicious about our government, even though they're building "temporary detention" facilities and establishing a private governmental police force. Stasi, anyone?
Pardon me while I go get a fork to stick in Godwin's Law.