Xah Lee's Unixism

Chuck Dillon spam at nimblegen.com
Thu Sep 9 15:10:30 CEST 2004

Jeff Shannon wrote:
> Chuck Dillon wrote:
>>> abridgement of
>>> civil liberties (as in the Patriot Act and the Gitmo gulag),
>> [...] How many U.S. citizens have been victimized?  
> That's the problem -- we have *no* way of finding out, because part of 
> the Patriot Act is a gag rule that prevents the public from knowing how 
> it's used.  It *may* be a small number, and we'd all like to think that 
> it is, but we really don't know.
>> How many dead U.S. citizens does it take to justify that 
>> victimization?  Both numbers are quire small.
> Here there's a lot of room to disagree -- it's a tragedy when U.S. 
> citizens are killed, but it's an even greater tragedy when the entirety 
> of the U.S. loses its freedoms in the name of "security".

That's intrinsically what the political process is all about.  One has 
to maintain confidence in the process.  That requires that there be two 
strong adversarial voices on *all* matters.  Be it going to war, the 
patriot act, abortion law or whatever.

If we went into Iraq and didn't hear dissension or if they passed the 
patriot act and we didn't hear dissension then I would be worried.  But 
the process is healthy.  It's how we identify a point of agreement in 
the gray areas.

> "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary 
> safety deserve neither liberty nor safety," as Benjamin Franklin said.  
> The Patriot Act takes away our liberty in the name of temporary safety.  
> We need better security than we had pre-9/11, certainly, but we can get 
> it with a much lower cost to our personal liberty than has come with the 
> Patriot Act.  We *don't* need secret police investigations, secret 
> courts, and secret detentions for secret reasons.

It's easy to say we *don't* need but not so easy to demonstrate.  You 
don't even offer a hand wave attempt at articulating an alternative. 
In the political world everything is subject to debate.  Taking the war 
to the middle east, increasing policing powers, increasing intelligence 
capabilities...  But in the real world there is a huge threat and 
action must be taken.

Granting of any power to police is a compromise of personal liberty.  A 
cost/benefit analysis is needed to determine how much such power is 
justifiable.  Given the known presence of individuals in country that 
are organized and willing to carry out crimes on massive scales most 
folks think that for the time being the patriot act is justified.

-- ced

Chuck Dillon
Senior Software Engineer
NimbleGen Systems Inc.

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