Monday, November 12, 2007

"Trust Me" Again

Donald Kerr, principal deputy director for National Intelligence, wants the U.S. public to accept another one of those “trust me routines” that the Bush White House is so fond of foisting on the country.

This time it’s “let government and business decide what personal information will be protected -- that is, will remain private -- and what information will be available for release outside of government and corporate entities.

If you have only been concerned about what kind of information government was entitled to collect -- beyond what it demands for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, for public service (e.g., military or Peace Corps), and of course occupation and income-related data -- or had been collecting since 2001 in the “global war on terror,” it’s time to recognize that this is no longer the question. Big Brother already is collecting everything sent by electronic means and even some communications that are more direct. They are now deciding how to sort out and catalogue everything they collect with what they expect will be expanded powers from Congress to collect foreign intelligence without getting court approval beforehand.

Kerr’s position essentially is that in the age of global terrorism, claims of privacy are being brought forward to try to thwart legitimate government attempts to strip away the anonymity terrorists need to go about their planning for new atrocities. In short, he is equating anonymity with privacy. Moreover, because the former is unacceptable to the executive branch, the latter is a luxury the United States can no longer afford. be accepted by government in today’s world.

So, does this mean no more books by “Anonymous“; no more use of a nom de guerre or nom de plume; no more satire from the heirs of Voltaire and Swift? What about all the quotes by the original “Anonymous.” and all his followers?

More importantly, what about all the government bureaucrats who are “anonymous” in terms of their relationship with the public, especially the bureaucrats working within the intelligence community?

Remember, political dissent often requires anonymity if it is to survive in its early stages. And it is also in the anonymity of thought that the spirit lives and the light of freedom cannot be extinguished.

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