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March 2008
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Preparing you for the authoritarian state

If you read fantasy stories about demons, you’ll often find the notion that the demon is powerless unless it is invited in, and then it feeds on fears to gain power and wreak destruction.
That’s how freedom is lost. One little bit at at time with our own consent, taken by demons feeding on our fears.
D.C. and several other cities are implementing a new program of voluntary house searches to find guns with amnesty for any guns and drugs found (although guns will be tested to see if they were involved in crimes, in which case the amnesty is off). Police will be going door to door in certain neighborhoods and asking people to sign a consent form allowing the police to search their house.
The fact that this is even being considered shows how low we’ve sunk in valuing and protecting the most basic citizen rights. Sure, it’s still with consent, but what is a resident supposed to think about her future relationship with the police if she refuses?
Fortunately, the notion still shocks some:

Ronald Hampton, executive director of the National Black Police Association, questioned the Washington effort. As a lifelong D.C. resident and a former police officer, he said, he would not consent to his house being searched.
“They haven’t earned that level of access or respect from the community,” Hampton said. “I just can’t believe they’re trying to do that. I’ve never heard of anything like that in my life.”

Whatever the stated goal of the program, the ultimate goal is to bit by bit get people accustomed to the notion of suspicion-less, warrant-less house searches.
We get people used to these things in so many ways… bit by bit…
Back in the 1980′s, the notion of general workplace drug testing (outside of specific safety-sensitive jobs like airline piot) was considered “idiotic” and yet today, people blithely piss in a cup for the privilege of saying “Welcome to WalMart.”
And with the millions of dollars being spent to convince schools to implement random drug testing (regardless of its efficacy), the demon preys upon fears to gain further footholds

“The most striking thing I hear in talking to students is that the kids feel safer,” said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

And they know they’re doing well when they can convince the students to ask for their rights to be violated.
And, of course, it’s never really about helping people as this story shows — parents find their son with a joint, so they contact the school to let them know that there may be drug dealing going on at school. The school responds by suspending the kid for 9 weeks.
The government also keeps you safe by looking closely at all your financial transactions. Many people were surprised in the Spitzer case with the fact that he was found out because he… spent his own money. And yet, that has been part of the drug war for some time. What the Spitzer case emphasized was that even expenditures of less than 10,000 can be scrutinized by the government (many had though that scrutiny was reserved for 10,000 or more deposited).
Of course, we’ve given up so many of our constitutional rights, and your car is getting very close to being completely exempt from any 4th Amendment protection. Jon Katz today talks about a case (Hamel v. State) in Maryland where incident to a driver’s arrest the state is claiming the right to search a locked glove box. There’s almost no distance from that to a locked trunk. And he reminds us that original justification for such searches was for the officer’s protection, but that expanded “to give police the green light to search areas within an arrestee’s lunge and grasp even after the arrestee is handcuffed and unable to lunge and grasp.”
Now it’s being reported that the NSA has silently re-established the dismantled Total Information Awareness program, which is a massive government database collecting information on your emails, internet searches, phone calls, financial information and travel information. The ACLU has moved its surveillance clock one minute closer to midnight.
Tell me I’m just being paranoid. Go ahead. Tell me.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
- Thomas Jefferson

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