The US Government is Unhinged

Recently I’ve been following the case of Indiana graduate student Chris Soghoian, who got himself into trouble with the FBI after putting up a website that creates fake boarding passes, just to show how stupid airport security can be. You can argue that Chris made a mistake by creating a script to automatically generate a fake boarding pass, but he did it to prove a point. He probably should have stopped at describing how someone could do it rather than actually creating the script. But the FBI beating down his door to confiscate all of his computer equipment after the site had been taken down? That is not a response that’s in proportion with the crime.

Today’s Wired story on the incident has a good summary of what happened. Chris has been heartened by a back-down from one of the politicians who was rather hasty in calling for his apprehension, but the fact remains that undue force was used. The story reads more like something you would expect in China or a few years ago in the USSR, not “the home of the free”. The speed of descent of United States into a police state is truly astounding, and the sad truth is that it is probably only because Chris is young, articulate, English speaking and computer literate that we’re hearing his story at all. I happened to be watching CNN the other night when they were discussing the state of delusion that the US government appears to be in. I couldn’t agree more with Andrew Sullivan in that interview. If you happen to be a US citizen, you should do something about it. Write to a politician and tell them you don’t think it’s right. Link to Chris’ blog. And whatever you do, don’t vote for the GOP.

One thought on “The US Government is Unhinged”

  1. Things are no better in Australia. I heard a few really disturbing papers about the anti-terror legislation and specific case studies at a conference in Canberra this week past.
    Under the ‘anti-terror’ legislation you can be held without charges for up to a week. And then indefinitely. You do not have a right to know what you are charged with. If you do find out exactly what you’re charged with, you can only present evidence in your defence at your trial if it has been approved by the court. It may be disapproved without explanation. You can be held under house arrest (and forbidden to contact anyone – even family) indefinitely.

    And so on and so on and so on. It’s frightening stuff to read. And as a fellow acka commented, many of the people at the conference (including the inspiring and incredibly gentle and kind John Frow who delivered an amazing lecture on this topic) will have files maintained by ASIO. In one case study Frow discussed, a man is currently under observation (a …’control’ order I think it’s called… I can’t quite remember) and has been charged with … well, something (he can’t discover what) because he has ‘political associations’. With the ATU and Labour party. These associations are professional, and part of his employment as a real estate agent.

    As Frow quoted this man “it’s enough to drive you mad”.

    It is as shameful to be a part of Australia as it is to be an American if these sorts of issues concern you. And they should concern all of us.

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