God damn, George Orwell was a prophet, even if he was off by about 17 years. Ever since September 11, 2001, everything I see, everything I hear, everything I watch makes me feel like I'm either in 1984 or Animal Farm.
If you took the TV News transcripts and added in descriptions of the video being shown, it would read much like Orwell's description of the Two Minutes Hate, except it usually lasts about 15 minutes for a local newscast (cause they gotta give you weather and sports), or 30 minutes for the Evening news. Just replace Emmanuel Goldstein with Osama bin Laden. We have plenty of good reason to hate Osama bin Laden, don't get me wrong. It just seems his images and words are being used to psych us up for whatever our government wants from us.
A new medal, the Medal of Valor is being given to emergency workers such as EMT's, firefighters, and police. There's also talk of another medal for civilians. Not that there aren't true heroes, but I just see Major with a Hero 1st Class medal.
What are we being psyched up for, you might ask? Well, there's talk about extending federal powers to warrentless wiretaps and other, broader wiretap and intercept powers. There's talk of requiring backdoors in encryption. The prospect of National Identity cards is being mulled.
Yes, National Identity cards. No doubt, a whole new bureaucracy would be created, along with a whole new class of laws and crimes to go along with it. Naturally, I'm sure that it would be required of everyone to carry such a National ID card. In fact, I'm sure it would be a crime not to carry a National ID card at all times. Forget that fact that most everyone already has some form of government issued ID, such as a state issued driver's license, state issued ID card, passport, green card (or other type of visa), or military ID. Forget the fact that the terrorists who carried out the destruction of the World Trade Center entered the country with student visa's and never showed up for class. Forget that fact that we need to fix our immigration system so that we keep track of who's here legally and who isn't; who's left the county when their visa is up and who hasn't. Forget the fact that a federally controlled ID system has far too much potential for abuse by federal agencies. Just realize that if there were federally mandated National ID card, that these terrorists most likely would not have had one anyway.
What about backdoors in encryption? The federal government want to be able to easily decrypt and intercepted communications. Presumably, the federal government would make illegal the use of encryption that doesn't have a backdoor. Assuming they did pass such a measure, think about the dangers this would represent. Every day, encryption is used to secure internet transactions (purchases made with credit cards, financial transactions, and legitimate business and personal communications. If we were to require backdoors, it would only be a matter of times before criminal crackers discovered how to abuse this backdoor for either their own gain, or to disrupt or destroy sensitive systems and communications.
Aside from the from above frightening scenarios, does anyone think that it will keep terrorists from using already available encryption? Do you think a terrorist is going to give up and say, "Well, I guess we have to abandon our plans death and destruction, since our encryption is now illegal"? Hell no! They're going to use encryption that's already available, has no backdoors, and will most likely be secure against cracking for years to come!
Furthermore, such unilateral measures don't mean shit in the rest of the world, unless we (once again) force feed our policies to the rest of the world. Pushing around the world is, in part, what brought us to this terrible crossroads in the first place. Our leaders may (or may not) have the best intentions in mind, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
We must be diligent and vigilant. We must not give up our rights and our freedoms just to catch a handful of people, who mean us harm, who may or may not be in this country. Our government already has the means to track down and punish those responsible for the devastation that has been wrought upon us. They need no more power. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Such powers are always abused eventually, whether intentional or not. This fact have been proven time and time again by agents of our government.
Now that my voice is hoarse and my feet are sore, it's time to step off my soapbox.