It is always a tragic thing to see a good name tarnished.
But that is off of today’s subject.
David Brown of Laissez Faire Books, perhaps responding to a leak from the Bush White House, blogged on some comments I made at the LFB blog -
“Jim Bovard: The Schizoid Man; or, Abandon hope all ye who enter here?”
We just received some very shocking feedback from LFB author Jim Bovard, an expert in governmental trespass against private domains, in response to our recent blogging about an article by him discussing the NSA’s mass phone-record scoop-up:
Of course, merely by visiting this blog site, people should realize that they have forfeited their right to be free of suspicion.
And if some government agent suspects you, that means that requiring a warrant to tap your email or phone calls would only aid Al Qaeda.
Huh? It’s “suspicious” behavior of the rights-relinquishing variety to visit the LFB Blog…and requiring the government to get a warrant before then tapping our communications would only aid Laden & Co.?? Gentle Reader, these claims are the exact opposite of what Bovard has been arguing in all his other public statements on this topic! Maybe they’ve gotten to him…?
I will begin my response by noting that all experts agree that blogging is cheaper than therapy.
I often hear people respond to the latest government’s surveillance abuses by declaring that they have nothing to hide. It is true that many people live lives that are so utterly boring that nothing they do could possibly offend even John Ashcroft.
However, when the feds begin vacuuming up information — it is naive to expect them to be reasonable about the inferences they make.
The Justice Department is arm-twisting major Internet Service Providers to keep records of every search made by every American user. The feds want to have this data ready for their easy tapping.
In the 1950s, some people were suspected of being Soviet agents merely because they subscribed to Pravda.
Fifty years later, can we expect the government not to make similar half-witted assumptions as a result of people’s web explorations? Government agents get promotions and bonuses for making accusations, not for assiduously respecting the rights of American citizens. And if a person is a serial offender – visiting many sites that disapprove of government policies – then…. This makes no sense. But this is government policy we are talking about, not Logic 101.
Loompanics Books recently went out of business in part reportedly because people were afraid to order books from them any more. Folks feared that the government was tracking purchases. Loompanics sold a lot of great books that were not available elsewhere. (Happily, Claire Wolfe’s work – previously published by Loompanics, among others – has been picked up by Paladin Press).
Laissez Faire Books has long done a heroic job of enlightening Americans about liberty. I have heard from heaps of readers who first learned about my books from LFB. I hope that concerns about government surveillance do not keep anyone away from the LFB website or the LFB cash register.
We have seen in the past week how easy it is for the White House and much of the conservative media to tar anyone who is concerned about massive warrantless government searches. All that was necessary was for the Bush team to create a new label for the financial surveillance scheme and – voila!- every good American was supposed to thank the government for trampling the Fourth Amendment.
The Bush administration may already have surveillance systems in place that far exceed what we have learned about so far.
Perhaps, at some point, revelations of government spying will provoke enough of a backlash by Americans to compel the government to once again obey the Bill of Rights.