Security expert Bruce Schneier's latest essay bluntly describes the Bush administration as setting up a police state under the aegis of fighting terrorism. He states that such a strategy sacrifices much of the freedom that Americans believe in for little in the way of actual security.
Terrorism is no different. We need to weigh each security countermeasure. Is the additional security against the risks worth the costs? Are there smarter things we can be spending our money on? How does the risk of terrorism compare with the risks in other aspects of our lives: automobile accidents, domestic violence, industrial pollution, and so on? Are there costs that are just too expensive for us to bear?
Unfortunately, it's rare to hear this level of informed debate. Few people remind us how minor the terrorist threat really is. Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn't really prevent terrorism. And where's the debate about what's more important: the freedoms and liberties that have made America great or some temporary security?
Instead, the Department of Justice, fueled by a strong police mentality inside the administration, is directing our nation's political changes in response to Sept. 11. And it's making trade-offs from its own subjective perspective–trade-offs that benefit it even if they are to the detriment of others.
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The laws limiting police power were put in place to protect us from police abuse. Privacy protects us from threats by government, corporations and individuals. And the greatest strength of our nation comes from our freedoms, our openness, our liberties and our system of justice. Ben Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Since the events of Sept. 11 Americans have squandered an enormous amount of liberty, and we didn't even get any temporary safety in return. [Smart Mobs]