Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ignoring Orwell and Madison

Via big boy blogger Andrew Sullivan, this post provides more proof that English teachers have failed when they teach Orwell.  The Obama administration and the FBI want to avoid the messy court system and just force ISPs to turn over customer records without a court order.

The original Washington Post article states that the FBI wants to use "national security letters . . . which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, [and] require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret."  The article quotes Stewart A. Baker, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official,  who says "the proposed change would broaden the bureau's authority. "It'll be faster and easier to get the data," said Baker, who practices national security and surveillance law"

Well let's do it then! Who can question the idea that the government should have things easier?  After all isn't the problem that government is too bloated and inefficient?  The most logical solution is to make it easier for government to invade privacy.

On the other hand, a wise man once told me that following the course of least resistance is what makes rivers and men crooked.  James Madison, an even wiser man, asked a great question in Federalist 51:  "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?"  Madison concludes, "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself"

Given that the legislation purpose is to make life "easier" for the government and given that looking for ease is a problem that may lead to corruption, wouldn't it be better to make it more difficult for "the greatest" and most powerful reflection of human nature to spy on its citizens?

However, if we Americans are going to forget  basic folk wisdom about men and rivers and Madison's more intellectual musings, we'll probably not raise a fuss about this assault on liberty.


caheidelberger said...

Arrgghh!!! Do we have no one left to vote for? Do I have to advocate the Kucinich-Paul ticket in 2012 just to restore some constitutional searches and seizures?

LK said...

We could go with Nader and Buchanan. It's pathetic that we can't think of a serious combination to preserve the Bill of Rights