A Soviet Level of Surveillance?

July 1, 2008 at 6:10 am (Civil Rights, Technology, The Constitution)

“Privacy is not of major concern in the Soviet Union, comrade.”  — KGB Political officer in the movie The Hunt For Red October

Amazing as it may seem, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 may place American citizens in the same position as those of the former Soviet Union.  Every conversation, every transmission, in reality all communications are subject to eavesdropping by the government.

Ryan Singel’s article AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates ‘Infrastructure for a Police State’ explains exactly how damaging this new legislation is.  He quotes Mark Klein, the retired AT&T engineer who stepped forward with the technical documents at the heart of the anti-wiretapping case against AT&T as saying:

“[Wednesday]’s vote by Congress effectively gives retroactive immunity to the telecom companies and  endorses an all-powerful president. It’s a Congressional coup against the Constitution.
The Democratic leadership is touting the deal as a “compromise,” but in fact they have endorsed the infamous Nuremberg defense: “Just following orders.” The judge can only check their paperwork. This cynical deal is a Democratic exercise in deceit and cowardice.”

and

“Congress has made the FISA law a dead letter–such a law is useless if the president can break it with impunity. Thus the Democrats have surreptitiously repudiated the main reform of the post-Watergate era and adopted Nixon’s line: “When the president does it that means that it is not illegal.” This is the judicial logic of a dictatorship.
The surveillance system now approved by Congress provides the physical apparatus for the government to collect and store a huge database on virtually the entire population, available for data mining whenever the government wants to target its political opponents at any given moment—all in the hands of an unrestrained executive power. It is the infrastructure for a police state.”

As US Citizens, are we ready to had over that kind of authority to our government, as Paul Krassner would say ‘In The Guise of Security’?  Let us hope that there will be a great outcry against this unprecidented attack against out civil rights before we do indeed begin to become a police state.

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Abandoning The Exoskeleton – Living Without A Car

September 18, 2007 at 11:58 pm (Technology)

As the price of oil increases (and the price in human lives of obtaining it), we may be forced to use (dare I say it?) Public Transportation. This blog will document some of my experiences using the public transport system of Austin, TX. Those of you in cities with good public transit might share your thoughts as well…

09/19/07

I’ve only used the bus system once since I moved to Austin, but I found it to be clean and efficient. You can ride across the city for the outrageous sum of fifty cents, and you can ask for a transfer ticket to another bus route which may be redeemed within two hours. A couple of the buses are even diesel-electric hybrids. We are also building a light rail system for commuters which should be ready in a couple of years. Downtown, we have ‘Dillos’ which look like SF street cars and are free. They’ll take you all around the downtown area. Not a bad system.

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