Saturday, August 16, 2008

Can you say "Police State"?

I knew you could. And you may as well get comfortable with it because even the best intentioned leaders will not easily give up powers taken by their predecessor, regardless of the illegality of those powers.
The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.

The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.

Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating terrorism cases within U.S. borders.
It is curious that the executive orders establishing this intrusion on personal liberty are accused of being issued to "lock in policies for Bush's successor and to enshrine controversial post-Sept. 11 approaches that some say have fed the greatest expansion of executive authority since the Watergate era." What is established by executive order can be rescinded by executive order, but it probably won't be. It is easier to get comfortable with these intrusions than to respect the Constitution. After all, the Constitution is almost as old as McCain.


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