A View From The Handbasket

Friday, May 12, 2006
Frightened Americans demand a police state
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:16 AM
By a two-to-one margin, Americans want the government to spy on them:

The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.

A slightly larger majority--66 percent--said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.

Underlying those views is the belief that the need to investigate terrorism outweighs privacy concerns. According to the poll, 65 percent of those interviewed said it was more important to investigate potential terrorist threats "even if it intrudes on privacy." Three in 10--31 percent--said it was more important for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.

Never let it be said that the government is not responsive to the wishes of the citizenry. Hearing the desire for a police state, the Bush White House is rushing to give the people what they want.

In what a less frightened nation might call a cover-up, the White House effectively refused to allow itself to investigate the previous NSA spying scandal, involving warrantless wiretaps, as the NSA refused to give the Justice Department adequate clearance to look into the matter. Since both the NSA and the Justice Department are answerable to the President, if the President desired the investigation to go forward, then it would. Obviously, he doesn't, and had the investigation shut down.

Meanwhile, the case of Khaled al-Masri is meeting a similar fate. Al-Masri is a German citizen who was scooped up by the CIA and shuttled off to a secret prison a couple of years ago, and held for months (when he claims he was beaten and abused) until he was released without explanation.

Al-Masri (being a foreigner and having funny ideas about civil liberties) thinks he's owed at least an apology, if not some compensation, for the inconvenience of being kidnapped, held for several months, and beat up. But in a police state, you don't get such things -- the CIA says the case would reveal "secrets" and has moved for dismissal.

When Americans disappear into the night and are never heard from again, when we shuffle through checkpoints and are randomly searched, when reporters are prosecuted for revealing the truth, when the nice man from the government comes by every week to discuss your activities, we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we asked for it. We demanded to be protected.

Perhaps we should have been more specific about what we wanted to be protected from.

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