While the Democrats controlled the U.S. Senate, they blocked the Homeland Security Act from approval — for all the wrong reasons.
They insisted on assurances that those employees hired in the creation of the new Cabinet-level department would be under the dominion of their constituents in Big Labor. Of course, this would have meant higher costs to taxpayers, more inefficiency, waste, fraud, corruption and abuse and less security.
That’s not what America needs in its life-and-death struggle against the global jihad of Islamist terrorism.
But that doesn’t mean the current Homeland Security Act is a good thing for the country. It is, as crafted, deeply flawed, dangerous and a cure worse than the disease, as New York Times columnist William Safire showed in his recent column, “You are a suspect.”
Now that Republicans are about to assume control of the U.S. Senate, it’s time to focus attention on the real problems with the Homeland Security Act. It is nothing short of a prescription for a full-scale police state in the USA.
“Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every website you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend – all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database,'” writes Safire.
And that’s not all.
“To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you – passport application, driver’s license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance – and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a ‘Total Information Awareness’ about every U.S. citizen,” he continues.
And who hatched such an Orwellian plan? The Bush administration – and, more specifically, one Adm. John Poindexter, famous for authoring the Iran-Contra Scandal during the Reagan administration. That’s right. He’s back. Now he heads the “Information Awareness Office” in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
It’s something of a surprise that Poindexter would ever be trusted with such a sensitive post. After all, he was convicted in 1990 of five felony counts of misleading Congress and making false statements – before an appeals court overturned the verdict because Congress had given him immunity for his testimony. Iran-Contra was perhaps the biggest scandal of the Reagan administration, and Poindexter was its author.
“Even the hastily passed USA Patriot Act, which widened the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and weakened 15 privacy laws, raised requirements for the government to report secret eavesdropping to Congress and the courts,” explains Safire. “But Poindexter’s assault on individual privacy rides roughshod over such oversight.”
This is the Pentagon’s version of Hillary-Care. This is a power grab of unprecedented proportions. These kinds of civil-liberties abuses should not be condoned even in time of war.
Once again, we see the administration looking in all the wrong places for security threats.
Our war on terrorism will not be won by a government intent on total control over the population. Our war on terrorism will only be won by a government enlisting the people in that fight. More powerful than any database is a motivated and informed populace that understands the threat. This fact was never more apparent than in the recent Beltway sniper search. All the police power in the world couldn’t find the culprits. They couldn’t be found with massive law enforcement manpower. They couldn’t be found with AWACs flights. But they were found and apprehended with the help of motivated private citizens armed with information.
Poindexter’s motto – emblazoned in his Pentagon office – reads “Scientia Est Potentia,” or “knowledge is power.” It’s certainly true. The question is whether we as a free society can afford to entrust government with all the knowledge, or whether is it wiser to entrust the people with that knowledge.