Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I Fear to Speak

I fear to speak.

I fear the words in this space will be used against me.

I know that my fear seems a little, well, paranoid. Most any reasonable person, looking at my writing as a whole, would conclude that I am a patriotic American.

But reasonable people do not worry me. The people I fear measure your patriotism by how closely your words match their thoughts. They say it is unpatriotic to disagree with the president - which I do. They say opposition to the war encourages the enemy - and I oppose the war.

Reasonable Americans value our long traditions of civil liberties, freedoms that come to us earlier than the Bill to Rights to pre-revolution days and back to very old British common law. I fear the guys who arrested and held an American citizen without trial. I fear the guys who feel that they should be allowed to torture anyone they suspect of being a terrorist - and they decide who that is.

I fear the equation that says opposition to the war equals aid to terrorists equals being a terrorist.

In todays news we learned that the NSA, the most secretive spy agency in the country, has established a cozy relationship with Microsoft. Read about it here. The spies helped the giant software company create security for their newest operating system, Vista. We also learned that other operating systems, including Apple's OS X and Windows XP, have been operated on by the wizards at NSA.

Who knows more about electronic security than the master spy agency? No one.

But in a climate of warrentless wiretaps and expanded presidential power to open our mail, the thought that the NSA may have written code used in computers all around the world gives one pause. Who know what they did with that opportunity? It's plausible that they could plant a few lines of code to enable them to spy on any computer, any time, for any purpose.

Six years ago, anyone saying the United States would launch a war on Iraq based on thin, possibly fabricated intelligence would have gotten zero airtime. The notion that we would spy on our own citizens and open mail without a search warrent would have been dismissed as absurd. That we would hold people without trial or charges, that we would operate secret prisons and condone torture would have been labelled hopelessly insane.

Paranoid beyond belief.

Like the Germans in the 1930s, we would be saying, "It can't happen here."

I fear speaking out. I feel paranoid.

But I fear remaining silent even more.

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