While reviewing some old publications I came across this great article that was written just weeks after the 9/11 tragedy in NY.
Based on recent events disclosed around the PRISM program and US Government actions against privacy in general the article seems to be very scary with it’s foreshadowing.
Here is an excerpt taken from 2600 Magazine (Fall 2001):
It takes an event of great magnitude to really put things in perspective, to make us realize how insignificant our daily concerns can be. At the same time, such an occurrence can trigger a chain of events that wind up magnifying these concerns.
What is most disturbing is the speed with which things began to change after the attacks. It was as if members of Congress and other lawmakers were poised to spring into action the moment public opinion began to turn and before common sense had a chance of regaining its dominance. Within hours of the horrific events, new restrictions on everything from encryption to anonymity along with broad new powers allowing much easier wiretapping and monitoring of Internet traffic were being purposed – all with initial overwhelming support from the terrified public.
We find it absolutely unconscionable that anyone would use such a tragedy to further their own agenda – whether it be by selling a product or enacting a wish list of legislation. We’ve witnessed a good amount of both recently and its all pretty repugnant. Almost every new law purposed is something we’ve seen in the past – and rejected. And there is very little in them that would have been helpful in preventing the terrorist attacks in the first place.
Our concerns can best be summed up by this quote:
“Maybe the Senate wants to just go ahead and adopt new abilities to wiretap our citizens. Maybe they want to adopt new abilities to go into people’s computers. Maybe that will make us feel safer. Maybe. And maybe what the terrorists have done made us a little bit less safe. Maybe they have increased Big Brother in this country. If that is what the Senate wants, we can vote for it. But do we really show respect to the American people by slapping something together, something that nobody on the floor can explain, and say we are changing the duties of the Attorney General, the Director of the CIA, the U.S. attorneys, we are going to change your rights as Americans, your rights to privacy? We are going to do it with no hearings, no debate. We are going to do it with numbers on a page that nobody can understand.”
Those remarks came from Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, one of the few who seem to actually comprehend the serious risks we’re facing.
Today we are seeing the repercussions of the actions taken during that time, and now the train is running full speed so it will take a strong force to have any chance of derailing it.
This all reminds me of another quote from Philip K. Dick (also in 2600 Magazine Spring 2003):
…the essence of the evil government is that it anticipates bad conduct on the part of its citizens. Any government which assumes that the population is going to do something evil has already lost its franchise to govern. That tacit contract between a government and the people governed is that the government will trust the people and the people will trust the government. But once the government begins to mistrust the people it is governing, it loses its mandate to rule because it is no longer acting as a spokesman for the people, but is acting as an agent of persecution