Monday, March 12, 2007

Gonzales Should Resign

The privacy of law-abiding, average American citizens has been compromised. Recent reports by the Justice Department's Inspector General, cited extensively in last week's news, make it clear that our rights are being trampled right here at home. After insisting publicly that no wide-net would be cast, the magnitude of federal government email interception and eavesdropping is staggering. To find out how the federal government may be gathering and using information about you, check out this interactive site owned by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Especially onerous is the fact that the process has been overseen by fumbling and incompetent operatives with no sense of public responsibility or personal honor. And they're planning even bigger initiatives. According to USA Today, the newest government system called ADVISE - for Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement - is capable of cross-matching material from websites and blog posts to government records and personal data. Techies, ponder this: The Feds can take ten-terabyte gulps of data and process it in under a minute. Now that's very good for science, but it doesn't bode well for maintaining personal privacy. The government project is difficult to research, but here is a sample of the technology being deployed at MIT. Can anyone say accountability?

Not Gonzales. During his tenure our privacy and basic rights have been compromised; we have continued to use widely-questioned methods of torture in our interrogations, and have legions of seized prisoners to whom we have denied the basic rights of Habeas Corpus.

Now, we are faced with the specter of political firings of perfectly performing federal attorneys - who resisted overt pressure from Washington to put justice aside for political motives. Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse. In one case, a federal attorney was fired to make room for an aide to Arch-Mage of the Dark Side, Karl Rove. Will somebody please pass the air sickness bag?

Making matters worse, instead of being accountable the AG has been dismissive of the problem, labeling it an "overblown personnel matter." Yea, uh huh. News bulletin: all the fired attorneys had great performance reviews. The president could take a lesson from Sec. of Defense Robert Gates, who when confronted with the same dismissive attitude about the treatment of disabled veterans at Walter Reed Hospital's outsourced rehabilitation center immediately fired the top two generals involved and sent a strong message to the services that this kind of outrageous behaviour would not be tolerated. I'm guessing that's not going to happen in the Justice Department.

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