No, really they do. They want your ISP provider to keep records of your internet activities and make them available to the FBI whenever it wishes. FBI Director Mueller said as much yesterday:
FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday called on Internet service providers to record their customers’ online activities, a move that anticipates a fierce debate over privacy and law enforcement in Washington next year.
“Terrorists coordinate their plans cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet, as do violent sexual predators prowling chat rooms,” Mueller said in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Boston. […]
The speech to the law enforcement group, which approved a resolution on the topic earlier in the day, echoes other calls from Bush administration officials to force private firms to record information about customers. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for instance, told Congress last month that “this is a national problem that requires federal legislation.”
Justice Department officials admit privately that data retention legislation is controversial enough that there wasn’t time to ease it through the U.S. Congress before politicians left to campaign for re-election. Instead, the idea is expected to surface in early 2007, and one Democratic politician has already promised legislation.
The trouble with keeping long term records of our internet activity ready and available for FBI inspection is that we know it won’t stop at “terrorists” or “child pornographers” or “drug dealers/users” or any other category of bad people we believe we need our government to keep our eye on. Because it is oh so easy to decide that your political opponents or those who publicly protest current government policies are “terrorists” or “terrorist sympathizers” who bear watching by Big Brother:
NEW YORK — Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal new details of Pentagon surveillance of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups. The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database.
“There is simply no reason why the United States military should be monitoring the peaceful activities of American citizens who oppose U.S. war policies,” said ACLU attorney Ben Wizner. “When information about non-violent protest activity is included in a military anti-terrorism database, all Americans should be concerned about the unchecked authority this administration has seized in the name of fighting terrorism.” […]
The TALON database was intended to track groups or individuals with links to terrorism, but the documents released today show that the Pentagon gathered information on anti-war protesters using sources from the Department of Homeland Security, local police departments and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
So it isn’t a question of will government abuse its power to invade our privacy, or even when these powers will be abused, since it’s already clear that abuses by government officials tasked to collect intelligence on “terrorist threats” are occurring even as we speak.
Indeed, it isn’t a question at all…
… It’s a fact. If you belong to an anti-war group, or have attended an antiwar rally, there a better than 50-50 chance your name, address and god knows what other information about you is already contained in a government data bank as a potential terrorist.
And now, we are supposed to believe that the internet is the source for the next wave of terrorism. At least, that’s the latest propaganda which Homeland Security Chief Michael “I was never informed there was a hurricane loitering in the area of New Orleans” Chertoff is trying to scare the American public into believing:
BOSTON (Reuters) – Disaffected people living in the United States may develop radical ideologies and potentially violent skills over the Internet and that could present the next major U.S. security threat, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday.
“They can train themselves over the Internet. They never have to necessarily go to the training camp or speak with anybody else and that diffusion of a combination of hatred and technical skills in things like bomb-making is a dangerous combination,” Chertoff said. “Those are the kind of terrorists that we may not be able to detect with spies and satellites.”
You can see where this is going, can’t you? Police state, anyone? Like the surreal world depicted in Terry Gilliam’s dystopian movie Brazil we will be under the constant scrutiny of faceless, nameless government bureaucrats who will track every interaction we have, whether financial, social, or political.
Under the Patriot Act, the US Government already require Libraries to disclose records pertaining to the books you check out. Will our cable companies and satellite TV providers be next, asked to keep tabs on what TV shows we watch? How about Netflix or Blockbuster? Will they be asked to retain customer records on what movies we rent? Will our local merchants be asked to keep tabs on the groceries we buy, the prescriptions we use, and the home improvement supplies we purchase? Don’t bet against it.
And “Terrorism” will be the universal excuse for the further diminution of our few remaining rights and civil liberties. Just as it was the excuse to eliminate the writ of habeas corpus and permit torture on anyone the President or his delegated lackeys deem to be an “enemy combatant” under the recently signed Military Commissions Act.
We are headed for very bad times people. They have been bad enough the last 6 years, but they are about to get much, much worse. Don’t believe me? Then try believing your own eyes. What powers haven’t Bush administration officials attempted to abrogate solely to themselves whenever the opportunity presented itself? Can’t think of any? What a Big Effing Surprise, eh?