You may not have heard because it's not really being covered by the news, but the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has been passed! And--this is the awesome part--telecom immunity.
That means that corporations and the government can watch what you
do without being held responsible. Which means your safety is always
secure. Because who gives a shit about those other people, right?
You've got nothing to hide and 9/11 was really scary.
If you're reading this, U.S. Government--and I know you are since I
just Googled "Terrorist Child Porn Gay Black People"--I've got some
advertising pitches which might help the few doubting Thomases realize
that FISA is meant to protect innocent people from themselves, not hurt
It's good, too, to think about the courage required of the American rebels who wrote it and voted to adopt it. Imagine the fear, trepidation, and excitement they must have felt in the face of their bold action! England would regard their actions as traitorous, punishable by death.
One of the great things about the 2008 HBO mini-series on John Adams was its success in capturing the emotion of the times. Here are two short clips from that series, the first showing Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin discussing the wording of the Declaration; the second focusing on the decision of the Continental Congress to declare independence.
I try to alert my students to be protective of their civil liberties if they're ever in a situation where the cops show up and start arresting people. Here's a good list of Eleven Things to Know When Arrested.
I'll make additions and clarifications to this list as time goes on. Meanwhile, young 'uns (and oldies), pay heed.
Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School has an op-ed piece in this morning's New York Times [it's an abbreviated version of a post he wrote for the Law School's Faculty Blog], in which he argues for the creation of a new executive branch position: a civil liberties adviser, or even a Council of Civil Liberties Advisers analogous to the Council of Economic Advisers.
highest councils of every administration there should be a respected
public official whose charge it is to defend our civil liberties
against all comers.
Presidents have been partial to the creation of such positions or offices in times of crisis or emergency -- or when the president has otherwise felt it necessary to signal to the public that he assigns great priority to some problem. For example, President Nixon appointed former Colorado Governor John Love to be his "energy czar" during the first gas crisis in 1973. Presidents Ford and Carter also appointed "energy czars." President George H.W. Bush appointed Bill Bennett to be his "Drug Czar," a job later held under President Clinton by former general Barry McCaffrey. And Clinton appointed an "AIDS czar." Similarly, to demonstrate his commitment to dealing with the economy that his predecessors had trashed, Clinton created a National Economic Council composed of cabinet members and key White House Staffers. So, there's plenty of precedent for the creation of such a post or panel, even though it's a practice that gets some critics quite exercised.
In any case, if the typical rationale for creating such a position is to respond to a crisis or emergency, then Stone is correct and justified in calling for a civil-liberties adviser inside the White House — someone whose explicit job is to look out for and advocate for the protection of civil liberties when decisions are being made. After all, under Bush & Cheney, the failure to do this has brought us to a civil-liberties crisis.
James Tierney, our older son, and Harvey Silverglate, the civil-liberties attorney for whom James has been working this past year, had yet another article appear today in the Boston Phoenix.
In the finest Puritan tradition, Middlesex
District Attorney Gerald Leone is crusading to save Harvard Square from
the shock and awe of the nude human form. The next act of this absurd
political-theater production will return to Cambridge District Court
this Friday, at considerable expense to taxpayers.