Saturday, July 11, 2009

Absolute Power (Corrupts Absolutely)

From Yahoo News: Report: Bush surveillance program was massive

"The Bush administration built an unprecedented surveillance operation to pull in mountains of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, a team of federal inspectors general reported Friday, questioning the legal basis for the effort but shielding almost all details on grounds they're still too secret to reveal.

The report, compiled by five inspectors general, refers to "unprecedented collection activities" by U.S. intelligence agencies under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks."

Batman: Beautiful, isn't it?

Lucius: Beautiful, unethical, dangerous. You've turned every cell phone in Gotham into a microphone.

Batman: And a high-frequency generator-receiver.

Lucius: You took my sonar concept and applied it to every phone in the city. With half the city feeding you sonar, you can image all of Gotham. This is wrong.

Batman: I've gotta find this man, Lucius.

Lucius: At what cost?

Batman: The database is null-key encrypted. It can only be accessed by one person.

Lucius: This is too much power for one person.

Batman: That's why I gave it to you. Only you can use it.

Lucius: Spying on 30 million people isn't part of my job description.

Batman: This is an audio sample. If he talks within range of any phone in the can triangulate his position.

Lucius: I'll help you this one time. But consider this my resignation. As long as this machine is at Wayne Enterprises, I won't be.

To President George W. Bush,

Mr. President, I am bearing closely in mind that the news media loathes you and would seek to destroy you and your legacy. I will not accept this rumor unquestionably, since I know that it is the result of a hostile news media and an administration that his hostile to you.

I am grateful to everything you did for this country in eight years. I am one of no large number of people who continues to revere, admire and respect you and the things you stood for and accomplished in office. You shouldered or were charged with so many grave responsibilities, many of which you did not deserve.

You presided over a dark day in history, the likes of which had not been seen in this country in decades. The devourers and destroyers made great headway on September 11 by striking terror into our hearts, and you stood strong when we looked to gave us strength.

You were not perfect, as no president is. People make mistakes, and you made some humdingers. Some were hammered on mercilessly by friend and foe alike, people who could do no better and who might do far worse. Some were heeded little, even though they were of greater importance.

But sir...if this report is true, I am greatly disturbed.

It's not a matter of trust, sir. I don't doubt that such a program is much safer in your hands than in the hands of someone else, such as our current president. That's not it. It's that you set the precedent. You opened a door that, once opened, is very difficult to close. It truly is too much power for one person.

The problem is, any powers that you took, that anyone takes, in the name of safety are soon enough in the hands of a those who believes in the power of the State, not of the individual. That is the problem with taking great liberty in the power and control of government, sir. Though the goals be just, the overarching problem you create is not; you leave the means of control in the hands of your successor, who can, by the same power you used, undo the good you did, and expand greater power and control.

The secrecy is also troubling. I understand well the need to fight terrorists on levels which the civilian cannot see. You told us many of the victories in this war would occur behind the scenes, underground, in quiet shadows of secret dealings. But still, would we tolerate this level of spying with our current president?

This was originally why America was founded sir, as well you know. That's what makes us so different! Other countries were founded in history, sir, history and culture. Ours was founded on philosophy, on ideals. It was conceived in liberty.

If these whispers are true, it is those liberties that took great harm by your actions. I fear for the empty machinery and vessels of control which you created for good, but which you now have no control over.

It may be late now sir, but for you, for me, for future generations of people who will be trusted with the task of governance, we must all at least remember this one truth:

The mightiest expression of power is not using it.

Yours with great respect,

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