Thursday, November 02, 2006

Big Brother Is Watching You

The BBC story I wrote about yesterday about the Pentagon creating a new unit or rapid responder, if you will, to “set the record straight” with “new media” on the War in Iraq strangely reminds me that “Big brother is watching us.” I’m sure most of my dear gentle readers know my reference. “Big Brother” is a character in George Orwell’s 1948 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the society that Orwell describes, people are subject to surveillance by the authorities and are constantly reminded of this by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you.”

So, the Pentagon public relations hacks are watching what is written about the war and stand ready to jump in to manipulate the news and opinions to fit whatever version of the truth the government wants us to believe. How else are we being manipulated and by whom? What are their motives? Where is the truth?

We have surveillance cameras where we shop, at city intersections, in public buildings, hospitals, schools, banks, airports and other places I’m sure we are not be aware of. Records are kept by Google of what search terms we used on the Internet. Marketers know where we live, how we shop and what organizations we belong to. I know where the visitors to Alabama Kitchen Sink come from and what they were interested in when they visited. Under the Patriot Act the government can investigate the books you check out at the library or the sites you visited while on the Internet without you even knowing about it.

It’s less than a week away from the mid-term elections. How confident do you feel that everything will go smoothly and that your vote, which you so cherish the privilege of casting, will be properly tabulated? Have you seen the news stories questioning the integrity of the new electronic voting machines? Heck, Florida couldn’t even get it right with the paper ballots.

Back the end of September while the collective national attention was focused on Congressman Foley’s penchant for young men, the House and Senate passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that further weakened basic Constitutional protections. Maybe you caught Keith Olbermann’s indignant rant, The Death of Habeas Corpus or The Beginning of the End of America where he said, “We have lived as if in a trance. We have lived as people in fear. And now—our rights and our freedoms in peril—we slowly awaken to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy. For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering: A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.”

Over at FindLaw, a legal news and commentary Web site, you can read The Military Commissions Act: A Short Primer by Joanne Mariner where she points out that the Act is “a law that even some Republicans have criticized as unconstitutional. Besides authorizing substandard military trials for suspected terrorists, the new law immunizes CIA personnel for past abuses, bars detainees from asserting their right to habeas corpus, and attempts to render the Geneva Conventions unenforceable in court.”

Maybe you can tell, dear gentle readers, that I am angry to see our rights intruded upon and weakened. Little by little, our precious rights set out in the Bill of Rights are being torn down while we amuse ourselves with “Dancing with the Stars.” Please don’t let it happen. Join me in my outrage. We must question our leaders and challenge them when they steer us in the wrong direction. We still have a chance.

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