Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why you shouldn't trust the government, part umpteen

(Via Drudge)

It seems that terrorism investigations are becoming the newest reason that the United States government can't obey its own laws and policies. The latest installment (from the NY Times; registration required; BugMeNot works):

The Social Security Administration has relaxed its privacy restrictions and searched thousands of its files at the request of the F.B.I. as part of terrorism investigations since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

The privacy policy typically bans the sharing of such confidential information, which includes home addresses, medical information and other personal data. But senior officials at the Social Security agency agreed to an "ad hoc" policy that authorized the release of information to the bureau for investigations related to Sept. 11 because officials saw a "life-threatening" emergency, internal memorandums say.

The Internal Revenue Service also worked with the bureau and the Social Security agency to provide income and taxpayer information in terror inquiries, law enforcement officials said. Officials said the I.R.S. information was limited because legal restrictions prevented the sharing of taxpayer information except by court order or in cases of "imminent danger" or other exemptions. The tax agency refused to comment.

This is just the first three paragraphs of course. The rest of the depressing tale is here.

Before 9/11, such actions were "for the children"--we were going to track down all those deadbeat dads and get them to pay up. The current witchhunt is for terrorist suspects, who seem to cropping up behind every bush and under every bed.

Don't be surprised when the definition of "terrorist" gets expanded to include various forms of dissent that have historically been tolerated, if generally unloved. If you're a member of the Militia of Michigan or the John Birch Society at one end of the spectrum, get worried. Your opposite numbers at the other end of the spectrum, such as Earth First!, have already been successfully targeted.

What unpopular belief do you hold? What group are you a member of that could merit such treatment? Most of us will have something that fits into one or both of those categories. Have you taken a stand that would be unpopular if a different political party was in charge? Your record may catch up to you someday soon.

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