Saturday, October 02, 2004

Rights, or Protection?

It's not just all about the books at Bookcrossing. But isn't it just like politics to get involved in everything?

According to The Age, Australians who will travel to the United States will need to get fingerprinted.
Every Australian who enters the United States from tomorrow will have their fingerprints scanned, a digital photograph taken and their details stored and checked on American databases.

Australians will have no choice but to surrender their fingerprints and submit to a photo if they want to enter the US. The information will be available to American law enforcement agencies and government authorities.

Deputy director of the new visa waiver program, Robert Mocny, said it was designed to catch terrorists, drug traffickers and visa overstayers while at the same time protecting people in the US. (Click here for full article and loooong but interesting thread)
As one poster said in Bookcrossing, considering Australia's long history of terrorists, it was a mighty smart move.

Barring the obvious wryness in that statement, the implications of the new US policy are staggering. ArJohn, a Bookcrossing member who is an avid opponent of fingerprinting, protests that it is an infringement of their US constitutional rights. Only with a warrant could a police officer legally obtain your fingerprints. He points out that once your information is in the US system, it remains there forever. And who knows what it will be used for in the future? What exactly are you giving up your rights for, he asks?

WIAPilot, on the other hand, says that at least the government is taking precautions with regard to terrorists entering the US. He would rather go through stringent procedures if it meant their collective safety as a country. What's the big deal if you have nothing to hide?

Also, I note, he takes pride in that the US has always lent its strength and power to less-powerful countries and helped out in wars whenever it could. Here's a direct quote.
But have you EVER thought of all the GOOD that our country has done for the world? When Hitler was ready to literally "rule the world"- NOT that long ago, the U.S. was virtually the ONLY country that could stop him. MANY American lives have been lost defending other countries from governments which threatened to conquer them. And historically speaking, I do not know of ANY country that has EVER been in the #1 "world power position" that did not use their power to conquer and overthrow other countries- except for the U.S. We do not do this and instead have tried to be a "watchdog" for other countries being overthrown by more powerful governments. We spend BILLIONS each year on foreign aid, and yet our country can't even afford health care for its own citizens. Likewise, when there is a natural disaster in the world, we are always first to offer aid and support.
I'm not denying any of that. America is a great country; no doubts there. My points are just this: with regard to Hitler, it literally took the US years and years before it responded to his threat. And that included intercessions by worried individuals such as Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew who coined the term genocide and lobbied for an international court of justice.
The US has also supported corrupt and despotic regimes such as Ferdinand Marcos here in the Philippines, Suharto in Indonesia, the Cambodia government before the PolPot regime. The US may be great, but its foreign policy is something else.

So you have nothing to hide, right? No problem there, most people think. But then ArJohn and other posters bring up the question: how do you know what it is they're looking for? Mojosmom writes: "If you don't have anything to hide, you'll let us interrogate you without a lawyer", "if you don't have anything to hide, you'll let us search your car/house/luggage", "if you don't have anything to hide, you'll let us subpoena your library/internet use records without even telling you we're doing it".

Sparkyredhead, another poster, returns with the statement that the people who cried post 9/11 about the laxity of US protection are the same ones who are now strenuously protesting against the infringement of their rights. The government is doing all that they can to protect its citizens against terrorism.

ArJohn, the ever-vigilant defender of rights, makes a statement that I think has been the most definitive in that thread.
So how do you stop terrorism? You don't-- you stop the reasons to BE a terrorist.
Still, all these opinions point back to the original question: Rights, or protection? Which is more important?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Banker Prescott Bush was Adolf Hitler's money bagger way before WW2 erupted. It was only towards the tail end of the war when Prescott--who happens to be the patriarch of the present Bushes--was indicted for accommodating Hitler, his bank closed. All this info can be had in the documentary The World According to Bush, which unfortunately was not played during the Cannes International Film Festival in deference to Moore's Fahrenheit.

--Berto

11:58 AM  

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