Thursday, August 16, 2007

At What Cost Security?

With the Democratic Congress's authorization a couple weeks ago to allow the executive to conduct warrantless wiretapping, thereby acquiescing to George W. Bush's familiar scare tactics (I think The Onion headline gets it about right: "What the f- did you think we elected you people to do?"), we again face the perennial question of "what are we willing to give up in the name of security?"

First, we should recognize the scope of the problem. Granted, 9/11 was horrific. And the 3000 deaths that day are tragic. But as I blogged earlier this year, so are the 43,000 traffic deaths every year in the U.S. (about 250,000 since 2001); the 550,000 cancer deaths (3.3 million since 2001); and the 655,000 Iraqi ( Oct. 06) and about 3,500 American war deaths in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

And the spending - Bush/Cheney is bankrupting the nation with its military adventurism in the name of fighting terror.

Britain and others have begun taking the sensible step of considering audacious attacks like 9/11 as criminal acts subject to harsh penalty, but not to reconstruct the very fabric of society itself around some vague amorphous future terrorist threat. That's what's happening in the United States today - we're throwing the liberty baby out with the threat-to-security bathwater. As a result, the United States is now regarded in the same breath as Stalinist Russia by some of Stalin's modern-day apologists, who justify his pograms and killings of millions of Russians with the statement that "sometimes security requires the limiting of individual liberty, just as we've seen in the United States since September 11, 2001." Some company.