Mon, 23 Jan 2006

Why You Need To Call Your Senator

No doubt, by now, you've heard of the illegal NSA wiretaps that President Bush broke the law in authorizing without a court order or warrant. Despite the fact that he has the redress of using FISA to get the information he needs, instead he decided that our wonderous intelligence agencies (you know, the ones that bungled preventing 9/11, the same ones that declared that WMD was a "slam dunk" in Iraq, the ones that prevented the attack on the USS Cole, you know, the list goes on) are smart enough and good enough to know when they should and shouldn't be invading your and my privacy.

This should worry the hell out of you.

The reason why is that the Bush administration would have you believe that terrorism is a foreign problem. Bush said "we're defeating the enemy there so we won't have to fight them here" (source The problem is this theory is substantially flawed. Prior to 9/11, there were several significant acts of domestic terrorism, the most obvious of which is the original February 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. That was planned and executed by people already in the United States.

And, take a look at the recent riots in France. The Basque peoples in Spain. The muslim population in London. Muslim fundamentalism (although again, this is NOT the only source of terrorism) is a global phenomenon. Even in the United States, all of the flights of 9/11 were domestic flights. These people already had visas. And we know our borders are permeable. Along the gulf coast, we know thousands of tons of contraband (those keys of cocaine might as well be a kilograms of dirty-bomb uranium-- if we can't stop one, how can we stop the other?) enter the United States every year.

Along our northern borders, "BC Bud" makes its way into the United States and into the lungs of high school kids across the country. And of course, our illegal immigrant problem in Mexico. Doesn't take a genius to figure out that al Qaeda could learn a few words of Spanish and come into the United States in short order and masquerade themselves as landscapers being paid under the table until it comes time to unveil their nefarious plan.

And it's not like domestic terror hasn't happened already. Zachharias Moussaui. Jose Padilla. Richard Reid. Eric Harris. Dylan Klebold. Ted Kaczynski. Do you honestly think, in this climate, if another Timothy McVeigh blew up a Federal building, that our current administration wouldn't make the argument they need to expand wiretaps between US citizens domestically?

The United States is not immune to having local populations who feel disenfranchised and who are subject to extremism. The United States likes to talk about exporting its ideals of freedom and democracy. But a key component which makes that export palatable (even at home) is our economic prosperity. You can't export one without the other. And so long as economic wealth is withheld from the disenfranchised (as it is in certain immigrant populations in France today with all the rioting) terrorism will become an increasingly home-grown scourge.

It won't matter that we've shut down the borders to cocaine or weed or heroin, all of which are imported to meet our demand. There are plenty of meth labs popping up like dandelions, and scores of uneducated disenfranchised people eager to take the road wherever it leads them.

Domestic terrorism is no different. We can shut down all our borders, prevent toxins and poisons from entering our country, but the enemy is already here. The question is whether we're willing to allow the brain trust in the White House (you know, the people who brought us the War in Iraq) to use our civil liberties as their bargaining chips in a gamble to prevent future acts of terrorism.

The problem is domestic terrorists are going to call our bluff, and we'll be left with the tattered remains of our Constitution wondering what's remaining that is worth fighting for? You need to call your Senator before it's too late, and tell them that the Federal government has the redress it needs to spy on people domestically, and that this is one slope that is too slippery to simply leave to "Executive Privilege".

Khan Klatt

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