Saturday, April 28, 2012

How Is The Tea Party Like Othello?

Answer:  Both "will as tenderly be led by the nose /As asses are." (Othello, Act I, sc 3, ln 401-02)

For evidence about how the villain Iago leads Othello, read the play.  For evidence about how the Tea Party Allows itself to be lead, reference it's response to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act  (CISPA), legislation that Gizmodo calls the "worst privacy disaster our country has ever faced."

Erik Kain reports on some math.
“The complete roll call shows 206 Republicans voting for the bill, 28 against,” writes reason’s Tim Cavanaugh. “Democrats went 42 to 140 in the opposite direction.”
Of these Republicans, “47 of the 66 members of the House Tea Party Caucus” also supported the bill, notes Patrick Cahalan.
“For those tricky with the math,” Cahalan continues, “this means 88% of the overall GOP members (casting a vote) voted yea, 23% of the Dems (casting a vote) voted yea, and 71% of the Tea Party (casting a vote) voted yea (Paul and Pence didn’t cast a vote).”
Kain adds that
TechDirt’s Leigh Breadon points out that under the final version of CISPA the, “government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all.”
The Fourth Amendment, for the Tea Party readers who believe that the Constitutional amendment numbering system goes 2, 10, and then that one about prohibition that got repealed, reads
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
What could cause freedom loving, card carrying Tea Party members to support the "the worst privacy disaster" the United States has ever faced and remove 4th Amendment protections from any online activity?  Kain succinctly illustrates the ring that was placed in the Tea Party's nose:
One important thing to glean from this, especially when held up in contrast with the defeat of SOPA and PIPA, two bills aimed at combating online piracy, is that once you tack the word “security” onto a bill it becomes far more toxic to oppose.
The Tea Party may be the small government wing of the Republican Party, but when it comes to national security suddenly limiting the state becomes far less critical. If SOPA had been billed as a cybersecurity law, it may have found a great deal more support in congress, and had a better time resisting internet backlash. For opponents of anti-piracy laws, this is an important thing to bear in mind.
That's it?  The word "security" means that Tea Party folk can willingly be lead around by the nose? I know being protected from unreasonable search and seizure doesn't have the same rhetorical shock value as losing the freedom to use a loud speaker to say a prayer when hanging up a print of the 10 Commandments on a courtroom wall while wearing clothes that allow one to conceal one's gun fashionably.  And President Obama has threatened to veto it, so it's probably good legislation, not a threat to freedom like Obamacare, the legislation that requires people to buy health insurance and allows parents to keep their child on a policy until the child turns 26.  Still, eviscerating the Fourth Amendment should evoke outrage not support from 88% of a caucus that claims to love freedom.

If big boy bloggers' concern and my sarcasm aren't enough to prompt concern, Conor Friedersdorf provides a little recent history.
Critics of CISPA are right to be wary, for all of the aforementioned reasons specific to the legislation -- but also because of the abysmal record that government and industry have amassed lately. The Bush Administration engaged in illegal warrantless wiretapping for years. All the while, the National Security Agency collaborated with America's major telecommunications companies. AT&T gave government officials unsupervised access to all data flowing through major hubs, including email messages, phone calls, web-browsing data, and private network traffic.
When the NSA program was finally revealed, Bush Administration officials weren't prosecuted and jailed. In fact, Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower who complained about a separate warrantless surveillance project, was prosecuted by both the Bush and the Obama Administrations.
He concludes,
Before the Bush Administration's illegal spying, it was easy to imagine that the legal penalties for exceeding the bounds of the law would be one check on government officials and corporate leaders tempted to abuse their access to data. We now know that when national security is invoked, these people are treated as if they're above the law. If legal violations aren't going to be punished after the fact, it's prudent for concerned citizens to push for even more elaborate preemptive safeguards.
The Tea Party is a prime example of people who have forgotten the mistakes of history so they are doomed to repeat them.  In this case, they are willing to trade essential liberty for "security," a trade that will leave them neither free nor secure.

UPDATE: Carter has posted a a link to an on-line petition in the comments.  Demand Progress allows one to send an quick message to senators.


Carter said...

A word of warning. Don't be fooled into thinking that just because the program of NSA spying was revealed until Bush it has stopped. J. Edgar Hoover was trying to watch all communications way back in the 40s, and there's no reason for them to have stopped.

CISPA would effectively be legalizing a program that's already taking place. Check out this WIRED article.

That said, forcing the NSA to keep it in the closest protects our freedom a lot. CISPA will make activities like using TOR "suspicious activity" and allow them to, in effect, label you as a security threat.

And don't get your hopes up about it not passing just because Obama said he'd veto it. Recall that he also promised to veto NDAA, but that didn't happen.

Speaking of which, combined NDAA and CISPA, and you've got the NSA shipping off American citizens to Gitmo for using secure browsing methods, because that means they're terrorists.

Sign the petition to stop CISPA here. We have to do everything we can.

LK said...

Thanks for the addtions. The security state that the US is building frightens me more than anything I have seen in my 50 plus years on this planet.