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Viet Dinh Defends The Patriot Act 817

Grrr writes "Wired News has posted an interview with Viet Dinh, who worked on the PATRIOT Act for the Justice Department. In the past he said, "Security without liberty - it's not an America I would want to live in." And also, in this interview, "I think right now at this time and this place the greatest threat to American liberty comes from al-Qaida and their sympathizers rather than from the men and women of law enforcement and national security who seek to defend America and her people against that threat." Several of his replies are (predictably / necessarily / discouragingly) less than direct."
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Viet Dinh Defends The Patriot Act

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:40PM (#8380986)
    but everyone around the office calls him Charlie.
  • already lost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maliabu ( 665176 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:42PM (#8381008)
    isn't the objective of terrorism to terrorize people? the more "ACTs" we have the more obvious we're really really scared of terrorists.

    now not only people are terrorized by terrorists for physical dangers, they're also terrorized by their own government for privacy invasion.
  • by Mr. Mikey ( 17567 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:42PM (#8381016)
    isn't coming from Middle-Eastern terrorist groups. No, the greatest threat to my liberty comes from a government willing to take the freedom and liberty guaranteed me by the Constitution, and replace it with the illusion of security.

    Planes aren't being hijacked because we stop the dreaded nail clipper from coming on board.

    • by tealover ( 187148 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:55PM (#8381155)
      The government isn't taking your liberty from you. Your fellow citizens are. They are responsible for voting your government into power.

      Republicans have control of the Executive, Legislative and if we examine the 2000 elections, the Judicial branches of the government.

      The Red states far outnumber the Blue states, so popular vote becomes a moot point in future elections as the electoral advantage is seded to the Republicans.

      You have to ask yourself. Is it really the government in the wrong here or is this an expression of the People's Will ?

      You might be scared to learn the answer.
      • by MsGeek ( 162936 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:28PM (#8381519) Homepage Journal
        I did a speech about USA-PATRIOT for Speech 101 last semester. In doing the research for the speech, I found that some of the most damaging aspects of the act are built atop a law passed during the Carter Administration: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [eff.org]. And during the Clinton Administration the Legislature and the Executive Branch was also quite busy coming up with anti-privacy regulations like the Clipper Chip and the DMCA.

        Basically, what I'm saying is that neither party has been particularly good on matters of personal liberties and the right to privacy. The Republicans are just a lot more blatant about their intentions than the Democrats. And the Republicans tend to go a little farther and push a little harder than the Democrats do.

        Just keeping this debate honest...

        • by tealover ( 187148 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:44PM (#8381695)
          I think what I was trying to say, and probably failing miserably, was that "government" is bandied about as though it were an entity that exists on its own or has sprung up out of nothingness.

          It doesn't and it hasn't.

          But this is a good thing. It gives hope to those who refuse to wallow in an air of defeatism and understand that any current transgressions need only be temporary.

          Remember, the Patriot Act is nothing more than legislation. It can be repealed or written out of the books very easily. But it's going ot take a lot of minds changing before we muster enough Political Will to start that ball rolling. It's not impossible. It's probably just a matter of time.

          100 years prior to Suffrage most people thought it was ridiculous to give women the right to vote. As a people, we learned that liberty cannot exist when we disenfranchise half our population. I suspect a similar conciousness will develop and we'll look back at the Patriot Act as a curious by-product of this era.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:05PM (#8381255)
      I agree,

      The bottom line is, even if the terrorists get WMD and deploy them --- lets say 3 nukes and a couple of industrial sabotages a nuclear power plant meltdown and an airborne killer virus --- even that would not be the end of America. America will survive, simple as that. However, America will NOT survive if it becomes a facist state.

      China, with 25 million men without potential wives, is MUCH more of a risk than some desert nomad religious fanatics raging against modernity.

    • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:31PM (#8381545)
      No, the greatest threat to my liberty comes from a government willing to take the freedom and liberty guaranteed me by the Constitution, and replace it with the illusion of security.

      Actually, the threat is mostly from your fellow citizens, who just don't care enough. Many have forgotten that democracy and freedom have risks, and the only way to protect them is to recognize, and ignore, that risk. If I stand a .00005% chance instead of a .00001% chance of getting blown up on a plane- but I and my fellow citizens remain free(ie, i didn't have to take my shoes off, didn't have to hand over "papers") so be it. If you aren't, you are a -coward-, and you can damn well pack your bags and move somewhere else, because America was founded by a bunch of guys who got -really- tired of exactly this kind of crap. What gives -you- the right to take -my- freedom, for -your- illusion of security? Franklin said it best: "They that give up essential liberty to obtain temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

      Nevermind that the risk is infinitesimal; in one year, +10x more people died on our highways than did in all the planes+buildings involved in the terrorist attacks. Every three days more people die of heart disease than died in the terrorist attacks(700,000 people a year, roughly). Nope, I can't have universal healthcare, but I can have Johhny Ashcroft breathing down my neck.

      Planes aren't being hijacked because we stop the dreaded nail clipper from coming on board.

      Exactly. Further- if you want proof of just how ineffective these measures are, look at countries where "security" is tightest. Israel, for example, is indisputable proof that no matter what you do, you just can't stop someone determined enough; when they stopped Palestinian men, women started strapping bombs to themselves. Then there's England; no end of security procedures did little to stop the IRA. Those video cameras in London, which practically outnumber people, have yielded no drop in crime; same goes for their thousands of radar-speed cameras; in fact, speeding's gone -up-...

      • Every three days more people die of heart disease than died in the terrorist attacks(700,000 people a year, roughly). Nope, I can't have universal healthcare, but I can have Johhny Ashcroft breathing down my neck.

        My preferred analogy is to automobile accidents (roughly 30,000 people a year, which isn't nearly enough for us to resume Prohibition, lower speed limits, etc.), but the point is the same.

        However, something just occurred to me. We're comparing death rates among the general United States populat
  • by Jon Abbott ( 723 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:43PM (#8381018) Homepage
    "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Ben Franklin
  • Hypocrisy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eraser.cpp ( 711313 ) * on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:45PM (#8381049) Homepage
    "I do, however, recognize that the act has been mischaracterized and misunderstood and has engendered a lot of well-meaning and genuine fear, even if that fear is unfounded."
    Woah he is taking a stand against unfounded fear, isn't that what he is in the business of selling?
  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:46PM (#8381059) Homepage
    He once said that he was drawn to study the government because he "had seen government that did not work," and he was drawn to the Republican Party because of his hatred for communism.

    Anybody who would be drawn to a political ideology purely based on what they oppose is, in my opinion, a dangerous person. Especially when mixed with the power, money and support that an organization like the Republican party has.
    • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:02PM (#8381231) Journal

      Anybody who would be drawn to a political ideology purely based on what they oppose is, in my opinion, a dangerous person.

      Well, I've got news for you: most people vote for whoever they hate the least. Think about it: how many politicans really generate genuine excitement? Very few. The main reason most people go to the polls and vote is because they are afraid of what might happen if "the other guy" gets elected. Hell, why do you think so many political ads are negative? Because they work! They instill fear in the public of the rival candidate.

      You and I may wish for a world where people vote for the candidate they like or join a political party based on affinity with their ideals. But if you factor out the people who put bumper stickers on their car and wave those stupid banners around at political rallies, I think you'll find that most people are drawn to a political party because it's the lesser of two evils.


    • by Bendebecker ( 633126 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:05PM (#8381256) Journal
      "Fear leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."
    • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:21PM (#8381422) Homepage
      Anybody who would be drawn to a political ideology purely based on what they oppose is, in my opinion, a dangerous person.

      Frankly, this appears to be the entire Democratic Platform for 2004. I have heard nothing but "Hate Bush" from Democratic Party since 2000.


    • Anybody who would be drawn to a political ideology purely based on what they oppose is, in my opinion, a dangerous person. Especially when mixed with the power, money and support that an organization like the Republican party has.

      Newsflash - The Democrats have the SAME faults as the Republicans. If you don't see that, you're deluding yourself. They're still politicians. It's one of the few things I can agree with Nader about. And your first proposition would classify most of Dean's followers as dangerous.
  • by PM4RK5 ( 265536 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:47PM (#8381070)
    NO, they are wrong. There is a distinct difference between liberties and safety! I don't see how people can be duped into believing that terrorist groups affect liberties!

    The only reason they affect liberties is because Congress passes things like the Patriot Act. Otherwise, all they affect is safety.

    Terrorists affect SAFETY, Congress affects LIBERTY. Get it straight, and we can all stop falling for this crap coming from Washington. If they said these terrorist groups were the greatest threat to our safety, then I'd buy it. But they are, however, NOT a threat to our liberty.

    The Patriot Act is the threat to our liberty, effectively nullifying the Bill of Rights when it comes to searches and siezures, and the right to a FAIR and SPEEDY trial.

    Government disheartens me. So do the people who buy crap like this from them and cannot draw the distinction for themselves. Just my (flaming) two cents.

    This isn't supposed to be flamebait, but mod it as such if you think it is.
  • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <agnosticpopeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:49PM (#8381095) Journal
    While the US has previously imprisoned people without access to council, these were in dire times, World War II, US Civil War, etc. While some could argue that these are equally troubling times, I find the argument problematic.

    In both of the above examples, the very existence of the country was at stake, in one of the two, half the US had broken off. The other, millions of people decided to declare war on the US (Germany, Italy, Japan, etc). Despite the tragedy that was 9-11, the entire attack was planned by dozens of people and executed by about 20.

    My second problem is the open-endedness. The suspensions of due process in the above cases were understood as temperary and were lifted as soon as the war was over. These days, presidents don't seem to declare war on things that can possibly be ended by a peace treat (drugs, poverty, terror, etc). Tell me, Mr Bush, is the war on terror going to be over before or after the war on drugs?

    The suspension of due process indefinitely is an abomination to liberty, which I could've sworn was what we were fighting for in the first place.
    • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:32PM (#8381554) Journal
      "These days, presidents don't seem to declare war on things that can possibly be ended by a peace treat (drugs, poverty, terror, etc). Tell me, Mr Bush, is the war on terror going to be over before or after the war on drugs?"


      "The suspension of due process indefinitely is an abomination to liberty, which I could've sworn was what we were fighting for in the first place."

      I would argue that suspension at all is an abomination to liberty.

      As for the rest of your comment, I must take issue with a number of things. First of all, you're definitely not a southerner, else you'd be calling it the War of Northern Aggression, which better illustrates the illegal nature of the war. There is nothing in the Consitution telling the Federal government that it had the power to stop secession of one or more states. Thus, as per the 9th and 10th amendments, the right to secede from the union remained with the states and those within those states. The North invaded, conquered, and ultimately burned to the ground a foreign nation because it was unable to survive, economically speaking, without it. But I digress.

      You use the 'Civil War' (not getting into a semantecs debate) as one example of a time when citizens were imprisoned without due process. Luckily, we've had a court ruling on the matter, entitled Ex Parte Milligan [state.gov], in which the imprisonment of a citizen under martial law was reversed, and in which the Supreme Court held that the very declaration of martial law was, itself, unconstitutional. From the court's decision:


      "Martial law cannot arise from a threatened invasion. The necessity must be actual and present; the invasion real, such as effectually closes the courts and deposes the civil administration."[Emph mine]

      "If, in foreign invasion or civil war, the courts are actually closed, and it is impossible to administer criminal justice according to law, then, on the theatre of active military operations, where war really prevails, there is a necessity to furnish a substitute for the civil authority, thus overthrown, to preserve the safety of the army and society; and as no power is left but the military, it is allowed to govern by martial rule until the laws can have their free course. As necessity creates the rule, so it limits its duration; for, if this government is continued after the courts are reinstated, it is a gross usurpation of power."

      And most importantly:

      "Martial rule can never exist where the courts are open, and in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction. It is also confined to the locality of actual war."

      My personal favorite part of the decision:

      "But, it is insisted that the safety of the country in time of war demands that this broad claim for martial law shall be sustained. If this were true, it could be well said that a country, preserved at the sacrifice of all the cardinal principles of liberty, is not worth the cost of preservation. Happily, it is not so."[Emph mine]


      Ergo, example 1 was shown to be illegal. Shall we look further at example 2?

      In World War 2, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which called for all the 'japs' to be rounded up and put into internment camps. This already looks pretty bad, doesn't it? In Korematsu V. United States, the Supreme Court gave the 'thumbs up' to the internment camps, rolling over like trained puppies for the popular wartime President. However... Over time, people actually got their heads on straight and took a good look at what had happened. In 1976, President Ford issued Proclamation 4417 which terminated Executive Order 9066. It was called "An American Promise", and it promised that such an action would never again be taken, while acknowledging that it was wrong in the first place. In 1983, a Federal district court ruled the detention
  • Hammer and Nail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maliabu ( 665176 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:52PM (#8381123)
    the old saying "if the only tool you have is a hammer, you will tend to see every problem as a nail". maybe that's why everybody's treated as terrorists now.
  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <`ogre' `at' `geekbiker.net'> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:54PM (#8381139) Homepage Journal
    Good intentions today means nothing tomorrow. Any powers given to the government will eventually be abused. So I really don't care that the good men and women in law enforcement are trying to protect me from terrorists. I want my Constitution back, damn it!

    Just look at the history of law enforcement. They begged for the ability to seize the property of drug dealers, and were granted that power by short sighted politicians. Now that power is used to steal cars from people never even charged with a crime - in complete violation of the Constitution, but what's the shredding of that moldy old paper when stopping evil drug dealers?

  • Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:54PM (#8381140) Journal
    Come on, folks, of course he's going to defend the PATRIOT ACT - he wrote the damn thing. Of course he's going to defend its enforcement - he helped enforce the damn thing. And of course he's going to be vague about the illegal/unconstitutional parts of the act, or of its enforcement - you think he wants to go to prison?

    I support Viet Dinh's use of his 5th Amendment rights in this article.

    What I don't support is the many parts of this act, and its enforcement, that are illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and so far beyond the scope of Federal powers as to shock the imagination. I'm about ready to start looking into how we can find a strong libertarian presidential candidate who has a good chance of being elected. Along with a willing Congress, I'd like nothing more than to see the Federal government stripped down better than an unattended Corvette in south-central LA on a Friday night.

    I want to see the Federal government up on cinder blocks, with the states standing around checking out their new goodies. Things are getting out of hand. We're spending more than $400 Billion a year on our military, just so we can stretch it to the breaking point by playing parent to the world. We're spending... well, we don't know how much we're spending on the very intelligence agencies that watch our every move. Why don't we know how much we're spending? Sorry, that's classified. Well, what are you doing with my money? Sorry, that's classified. Why is it classified?! It's my money! Sorry, that's classified. Well what am I getting in return for my unknown investment? Safety. Could you be more specific? Sorry, that's classified.

    It's about time for a change. I wonder how much longer it will be before Americans can get together enough courage to dismantle the bulk of the Federal government. Are we ready for 10 - 20 years of readjustment, the end result of which is far more freedom and a return to the Constitutional Republic we once had? Or shall we sit on our collective asses for a bit longer while Uncle Sam's goons start doing random cavity searchs to see what we might be hiding?

  • by BlueEar ( 550461 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:55PM (#8381156) Homepage

    I guess I would trust Bush'es administration a tad more if they were not using the excuse of 9/11 to prosecute organizations such as Green Peace. A more or less complete story can be found in The Miami Herald [miami.com]. If they are capable of using such antiquated law as ''sailor-mongering,'' (intended to deal with people would board a ship and use liquor and prostitutes to lure away the crew) to prosecute organization that is trying to stop illegal logging, how can you trust them they won't use Patriot act in some insidious way?

  • by Molina the Bofh ( 99621 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:56PM (#8381163) Homepage
    I bet it'll be modded as flamebait, but it's my oppinion anyway, so I'll post it.

    I think right now at this time and this place the greatest threat to American liberty comes from Bush and their sympathizers rather than from Al-Qaida.

    This works this way: An unjustifiable attack to other countries (like Iraq) leads to more anger from its citizens and even other countries. Now we have not just one group of loons who hate the US (Al Qaida), but many.
    • by psykocrime ( 61037 ) <mindcrime@cp p h a c k e r . c o .uk> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @09:58PM (#8381184) Homepage Journal
      No, you're 100% correct. Less intervention in the affairs of foreign (sovereign) nations would do more to cut down on terrorism than creating patriot acts, and departments of homeland security / the new gestapo, etc.

      • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:18PM (#8382104)
        You are also 100% correct. The best way to fight terrorism would be to:

        - Seek a lasting and balanced peace between Israel and the Palastinians. This open wound has been there for so long we've almost become oblivious to the fact that it is at the root of the worst of the Arab animosity to the West. The Israeli's are engaged in acts against the Palastinians that would be called ethnic cleansing if they were happening in Yugoslavia. The U.S. has always backed Isreal at every turn, no matter how wrong they are or how brutally they treat the Palastinians. A key reason, the Friends of Isreal is one of the most poweful special interest lobbies in the U.S. A politician can't even suggest a balanced treatment of Isreal and the Palastinians without doing the equivalent of grabbing the third rail. Howard Dean said just that and he was crucified for it.
        - Stop supporting despotic Arab dictatorships like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The administration spends a lot of time wailing about what a despot Saddam was, crowing about democracy in Iraq and conveniently ignoring the regimes that we call friends that are nearly as brutal as Iraq in suppressing dissent. Iraq under the Baathists offered vastly greater freedom to women then you will find in Saudi Arabi or any other Islamic state. The administration made great propaganda with public executions and dismemberment by the Taliban and Saddam but they are also routine in Saudi Arabia.
        - Get American (Infidel) troops out of the Middle East. Arab culture simply can't cope with the decedence of American soldiers, liberated American women and an army that is overwhelmingly JudeoChristian in their midst. It just smacks of the Crusades. Its generally forgotten that Al Quaida's core issue was the fact there were American troops roaming all over Saudi Arabia, the Muslim holy land, for more than a decade between the two wars in Iraq. One of the few plusses of the Iraq invasion was it provided a mechanism for withdrawing American troops from Saudi Arabia.
    • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:05AM (#8382546)
      A few things in his comments that are particularly worrisome:

      "It may well be that a number of citizens were not charged with terrorism-related crimes, but they need not be. Where the department has suspected people of terrorism it will prosecute those persons for other violations of law, rather than wait for a terrorist conspiracy to fully develop and risk the potential that that conspiracy will be missed and thereby sacrificing innocent American lives in the process. "

      This could be interpreted as all suspected terrorist are guilty of other crimes for which they can be convicted, but I imagine its more likely that it means, if the government can't make a terrorism conviction stick, they fabricate other offenses which are an easier frame to make. An example which immediately comes to mind is Capt. James Yee, the muslim chaplain at Guantanomo who was facing a death penalty espionage charge for collaborating with the enemy. The Army's case completely collapsed but rather than let him go with an apology he is instead up on charges for adultery and using army computers to look at porn which can be used to put him in a Federal pen for a decade:


      "I do recognize that our Defense Department officials have an awesome responsibility to play in not only prosecuting the war in Afghanistan and Iraq but also continuing to protect the American homeland"

      I would really like to know what a DOJ official thinks "Defense Department officials" are doing to protect the Homeland that is apart from fighting foreign wars. The DOD's role in our nation's security is to prosecute foreign wars. It is the DOJ, National Gaurd and Homeland security's role to defend the homeland. The Posse Comitatus act of 1878 was put in place precisely to preclude the DOD from acting as a domestic enforcement agency because we wanted to discourage the military from seizing control of our homeland which is an all to common occurence in nation's where the military takes an active role in the homeland.


      I'm cool with the DOD flying aircraft over the U.S. to secure the airspace but I don't ever want to see them practicing their trade on the ground unless we are really invaded.

      "We should all applaud each other for getting into the game and risking injury because of it, because at the end of the day we all win if we do engage."

      He's conveniently choosing to ignore the fact that his team has the vast resource of the DOJ, DOD, etc. on his side. Any ordinary citizens who jumped in to this game would risk grave, if not mortal, injury. He also doesn't seem to understand how games work. Unless there is a tie and no won wins, there is always a winner and a loser. The point spread is decidely in the favor of his team.

      You could hope that somehow we could just all go out and vote and fix this but that is more than a little naive. The majority in this country isn't going to think about or understands the implications of the Patriot Act in their lives. They are going to hear their President, with his bully pulpit, use every speech to summon waves of fear, invoke images of 9/11 and then offer premptive warfare and the patriot act as the solution for all our fears. If we do go out and vote in November we can choose between John Kerry who voted for and cheerled the Patriotic Act when he thought it was popular and George Bush who signed it.
  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee@ringofsatur n . c om> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:00PM (#8381213) Homepage
    There is no question that the last 28 months of peace in America, where not another life has been lost on American soil to terrorism, would have been much more difficult without the USA Patriot Act.

    I think that somebody who doesn't understand the distinction between correlation and causation has no business whatsoever rewriting the Constitution.
  • by Daniel Quinlan ( 153105 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:02PM (#8381230) Homepage
    The Slashdot story is perhaps interesting rhetoric and umm... advocacy, but when I read the story, the thing that jumped out at me is that the questions are generally vague and there are very few specific questions about the substance of the Act. It falls prey to the typical media script of "Some critics say [insult character of interview subject]" or "It has been written that [insert oversweeping charge]". Honestly, it seems like Viet Dinh's replies are very matter of fact and he answers most of the questions as best and as openly as can be expected given the questions. If he does not come out seeming like a fascist, it is either because the interviewer did a poor job, because he's not a fascist, or both. I'm sure that won't stop people from making their own conclusions based on little or no evidence, though. (Oh my god, he gave detailed answers!)

    I'd be very interested in someone asking Viet Dinh substantive questions about specific concerns raised in the Patriot Act, but I'm unable to draw much of any conclusion from reading this article, especially not the same alarmist conclusion that the story submitter has drawn.

    Another interpretation I could make, especially based on the story submitter's comments, is that the critics of the Patriot Act are equally incapable of discussing the ramifications of the Act as are its supporters. Unfortunately, it's the job of the critics to do a good job criticizing and they get far too hung up in rhetoric and name-calling to take most of them very seriously and given that the law is now on the books, I think they're going to need to change their tactics if they want to have any substantive effect.

    Oh crap, I seem to be falling prey to the standard media script of analyzing process rather than issues.

  • by craXORjack ( 726120 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:06PM (#8381269)
    President George Dubious Bush was on the tube tonight asking Congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage. I guess he must figure that for every constitutional amendment he destroys the right thing to do is to put one back.
  • by putaro ( 235078 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:10PM (#8381304) Journal

    From the article:

    If indeed that is your fear or that is your perception then engage in the democratic process. Back up your argument, back up your belief with facts, marshal evidence in order to convince those who are engaged in the process of governance.

    Vinh's attitude is that he is "governing" and that we have to come to him with information to change his mind. He does not view himself as a public servant obviously. It is his job to convince the citizens of the United States (not the "governed of the United States") that he needs the tools he has asked for. It is his job to convince the citizens that hsi approach is correct. We do not need to "convince" those who are currently tasked with governing the country. We need to vote their political masters out and get some people in with better attitudes.

  • Repeat after me... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrkurt ( 613936 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:11PM (#8381310) Journal


    I hate to seem like I am shouting, but I am shouting. What the Patriot Act does to the civil liberties of citizens is unconstitutional and wrong. There is no way that any part of that law should be renewed. It is essentially a declaration that the terrorists won. This is not what I want, and I don't think it is what the American people want to say to the rest of the world.

  • "Facts and examples" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abulafia ( 7826 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:14PM (#8381348)
    WN: Some critics have called you the purveyor of the most sweeping curtailment of freedom since the McCarthy era. Is that an exaggeration?

    Dinh: I think it is very easy to employ sweeping rhetoric and personal denunciations. I think it is much harder to back it up with facts and concrete examples. [...]

    And it is much harder still to back up any sort of reasonable discussion up with facts and concrete examples when the people defending the act in question also have discretion over the facts and concrete examples that are released for public review.

  • Threat to liberty? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nihilogos ( 87025 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:15PM (#8381353)
    I think right now at this time and this place the greatest threat to American liberty comes from al-Qaida and their sympathizers

    A threat to American liberty? Sure they're a threat, but how on earth can a small, loosely knit band only really capable of random destruction threaten liberty? They may threaten building, airplanes, and (heaven forbid) a city, but the exact same destruction is wreaked on a larger scale around the world by natural disasters.

    You need a large army, militia or police force to threaten liberty.
  • Hey America: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stealth.c ( 724419 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:18PM (#8381400)
    According to Viet Dinh toward the end of the article: USA PATRIOT and similar legislation will be necessary as long as we are "fighting terrorism." If you think he is correct, then you probably believe that the Iraq war had everything to do with Terrorism, and you are probably the caliber of person to whom I would like to sell this bridge I own in New York.

    These people MUST realize that the "War on Terrorism" is a necessarily perpetual one. Is Viet therefore proposing that we give up our civil liberties indefinitely? Whether he knows it or not, that's what he seems to be proposing.

    As long as Americans are willing to believe that politics is over their heads and that they shouldn't worry about what goes on in Washington, the way is wide open for some dynastic madman to install himself in the White House without even being elected, and start waging unprovoked wars in countries most Americans can't recognize on continents most Americans can't name.

    As THE most powerful nation on Earth that claims to be, (of/by/for) the people, its citizens have a great responsibility to keep their civil servants accountable. If you ask me, most are allowing themselves to be distracted from that responsibility.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:25PM (#8381466)
    Is to secure liberty.

    Yes, this does reduce safty in some areas, but that is the price you pay to avoid the real risk involved in allowing desaparacidos.

    On the whole it's a pretty good bargain.

    If we do not remove liberties than the people who died on 9/11 (I'm a New Yorker, so that list includes acquaintences and directly affected family members) did so as patriots protecting liberty.

    If we use 9/11 as an excuse to remove liberties then they died so that we might all be less free and subvert the constitution.

    If I've gotta die I'd rather do so for liberty, not a police state.

  • Joe McCarthy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <earthforce_1@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:27PM (#8381497) Journal

    He falls into the same trap as Senator McCarthy, by destroying the very thing he seeks to protect in his zeal. I remember stories of the neighbourhood "stazi" agents in the former East Germany, and thought what a horrible sort of place to live. Of course I would fight to the death to avoid having to live in such a society. Then you read about initiatives such as TIA and the PATRIOT act initiatives, and wonder if we really won the cold war after all....

    This danger exists on both the right and left of the political spectrum. Censorship and repression in the name of "political correctness" is the other side of the coin.

    In one way at least, Al Queda has won the war on terror - they hate the idea of a free, tolerant, pluralistic society, and they have managed to make ours considerably less so.

    • by afxgrin ( 208686 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:27PM (#8382200)
      They never said they hate the idea of a free, tolerant, pluralistic society - they hate the result brought to them because of it....

      Did ANYONE EVER read the letter from Bin Laden to the "United States".

      Here's an article [guardian.co.uk] from the Observer containing the full translated text.

      Here's some key pieces of the text for those who are too lazy to click on the link:

      Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:

      (1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.

      a) You attacked us in Palestine:

      (i) Palestine, which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years. The British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes, killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation. The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel. The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its*price, and pay for it heavily.

      And here's a part regarding liberty and freedom...

      (3) You may then dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not partake:

      (a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and its leaders in this world. Therefore, the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies. Thus the American people have chosen, consented to, and affirmed their support for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, the occupation and usurpation of their land, and its continuous killing, torture, punishment and expulsion of the Palestinians. The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their Government and even to change it if they want.

      Again, it's out of context, you need to read the letter to understand the point he's making.
      I don't necessarily agree with what he's saying, but let's get the facts straight. It's not that they hate a free society, but they hate the fact that this free society allowed the oppression they've supposedly felt.

      I have a feeling that if history occured differently, there would be a bit more acceptance for the things he argues against later in the letter (such as gambling, drug use, ... things he considers sins against Allah). If you read the whole letter you'll notice a lot of it has to do with Palestine....
      • by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <earthforce_1@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:13AM (#8382609) Journal

        Yes, I have read similar publications from them. A typical propoganda piece, full of historical distortions.

        Bin Laden is a Saudi, not a Palestinian. None of the Sept 11th hijackers were. Very few Al Queda memebers are. The Palestinian Authority has gone to great lengths to distance themselves from, and denounce Al Queda. They use the existance of the state of Israel is a straw dog. I was able to speak with somebody before in the Egyptian government about the Yom Kippur war. It was quite revealing - the allies never trusted each other, and he admitted that even had the state of Israel been utterly destroyed, there would be no peace or stability in the region. Quite the reverse in fact.

        American has lent much material aid to Israel, no doubt about it. They have also lent considerable aid to Islamic countries as well. Turkey enjoys very good relations with the US. They conveniently forget how the NATO, particularly the US and GB went to war to save Muslims in Bosnia.

        Al Queda loves to beat their chest about the evils of the 800 year old crusades, (true enough) yet forget about the enslavement and mandatory conscription of Christan children to serve the Ottoman empire.

        But you do have one point. Some of the things I see coming from the religious far right in the USA bear an uncomfortable resemblance to statements that might have come from the Taliban.

        Although it is not mentioned in your statement, they DO hate a free society. Look at the model society they built in Afghanistan. It wasn't enough even to be a practicing Muslim, look what they did to the Sheite minorities, they considered heretic. You were forced to exactly follow the edicts of their particular (warped) interpretation of Islam.

        Not to pick on Muslims by the way, there seems to be an equal distribution of intolerance distributed among all faiths.

  • by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:38PM (#8381623)
    "I think right now at this time and this place the greatest threat to American liberty comes from al-Qaida and their sympathizers rather than from the men and women of law enforcement and national security who seek to defend America and her people against that threat."

    It seems to me that the only person(s) capable of restricting, denying, or otherwise effecting MY liberty are those individuals in authority to whom I am supposed to defer. That would be law enforcement, national security and those who rule them. Al-Quaida and its sympathizers have no control over me, none. I can't recall ever having to obey their rules, or having them tell me what to do. Attitudes like this piss me off to no end. I am not an infant, I can bloody well take care of myself, and I would thank my fellow Americans if they would stop acting like babies, expecting to be coddled by the powers that be and their tools.

    Always remember that a jail also protects those within from those on the outside.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:43PM (#8381675) Homepage Journal
    But for how long?

    The problem isn't necessarily that we can't trust law enforcement officials; its just that's not how our system works. Our system is based on transparency and accountability, because in the long term it works better.

    The last time the US was in a situation like this was after WW2. Things looked, if anything, bleaker with the communists advancing throughout the world. We let agencies run wild on the "desperate times/desperate measures" theory. They ended up doing a lot of stuff that was just pointless, like experimenting with LSD on unwitting citizens, or having our legislature take part in a witch hunt that was in the end turned out to be run by a pathetic liar.

    The institutions that did these things didn't start being disgraceful and stupid; indeed they were not entirely or even mainly so. But they ended up doing a lot of things they wouldn't have otherwise just because they had a license to operate without outside scrutiny and criticism.

    Panic is not a good mode to run a war in. The Patriot act is just congressional platform for political posturing that doesn't do anything real for security. It's all a big sideshow. The 9/11 hijackers could have been stopped with the laws we had then, had we only taken the threat of air piracy seriously. We could have stopped them then if we had the will. Years later now we still don't have the will. Sure the air travel system is a bit more secure, but it's only a matter of time before somebody who is not a prankster sneaks a weapon on board or walks/forces his way through an unsecured perimeter.

    What we really need to do is hard, expensive work. We need to do a lot more scrutinizing of critical facilities and hire armies of people to secure them and more armies of people to check up on the those guys. Sure, we're doing a little of that, but it is not even within two orders of magnitude of say the Iraq effort, which is absurd when you consider their relative security value (note I didn't say Iraq had zero value; it might have had some but on balance probably has negative value). What we've got, however, is the Patriot Act which does nothing for our security but gives our elected representatives the all important political "cover". Look! They're passing laws! They're having debates! They're talking about security! It's harsh! Like brusing your teeth with Clorox!
  • My Rant.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SkorpiXx ( 567249 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:43PM (#8381680) Homepage
    ::deep breath::

    Okay kids, here's the thing. We can all sit on /. and bitch and moan all we like but if we aren't doing anything about it, it's like... uh... pissing in the wind.

    Can you even fathom what a political power the members of /. could be if everyone got out and just voted?

    Don't like what you see? Don't talk, do.

    Wan't a coup? Fine. Let's have one in November.

  • by solosaint ( 699000 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:54PM (#8381804)
    I was all for the PA until they used to for something other then terrorism, that is when they raided a strip club in Vegas and shut it down, using the PA for an excuse, how can anyone say that it is a law that has been absused?
  • by Tatarize ( 682683 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:18PM (#8382097) Homepage
    "the greatest threat to American liberty comes from al-Qaida and their sympathizers" - What the heck? When did al-Qaida get the right to toss me in prison without a trial and never tell anybody where I am or why? I mean sure, perhaps they'd like to kill me... but deny me liberty? I think not.
  • by Richthofen80 ( 412488 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:48PM (#8382401) Homepage
    is that while the interviewer was attempting to illustrate the fear people may feel about the patriot act, it hardly at all actually specifically cites the offending sections. Except for section 215, the interviewer doesn't specifically say the parts of the patriot act that are damning.

    By not mentioning the specifics of the act, and instead talking about how people are afraid of the act, this report manages to, surprise surprise, actually stir up more fear (hence all the posts on slashdot.)

    What I would like to see is a specific breakdown. here's what patriot act ACTUALLY SAYS and here's what the constitution says, and show me differences. then I can make an opinion. Here's why X is bad, here's why Y is bad.

    Also, shame on you if you posted against the patriot act in this thread and have not actually read it yourself. you shouldn't trust the trolls around you to summarize it with their slant.

    I for one thought Viet's response to the one accusation, section 215, was actually reasonable. The powers he mentioned exist and have existed on state level and make sense nationally.

    and finally, to those who say that our greatest threat comes from our own government: Physical violence against citizens in the most blatant way, murder, is preventable. Each one of those twenty hijackers made a conscious effort. America did not deserve it. not one person who died deserved it. And it could have been prevented had a decent enough intelligence effort been put forth. If the government did NOT put forth efforts to protect us, it would be abdicating its duty.
    • What I would like to see is a specific breakdown. here's what patriot act ACTUALLY SAYS and here's what the constitution says, and show me differences. then I can make an opinion. Here's why X is bad, here's why Y is bad.

      I wish I had time to do it for you myself, but here's a pretty good analysis of the USA PATRIOT act and why it's bad:

      http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot [epic.org]

      Physical violence against citizens in the most blatant way, murder, is preventable.

      Wrong. The only way that would be possible would be for each and every person in the US to have an armed guard in their company 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Life is dangerous, that's a fact of life. I've said it before, and I'll say it again.. live long enough, you die. Every time, no exceptions.

      Each one of those twenty hijackers made a conscious effort. America did not deserve it. not one person who died deserved it.

      No argument there. I'm a firefighter, so 343 of my brothers died on 9/11 as a result. I definitely feel the pain of what happened. But if we start sacrificing our civil liberties in the name of psuedo-safety in the aftermath of 9/11, then those brave men and women died in vain, and there memories are tarnished forevermore.

      And it could have been prevented had a decent enough intelligence effort been put forth.

      That's debatable. The intelligence we DID have wasn't acted on appropriately. Would more intelligence have really helped?

      If the government did NOT put forth efforts to protect us, it would be abdicating its duty.

      No, no, no. Nobody has any obligation to protect me (or you) but myself (or yourself). It's a simple concept called personal responsibility, and it used to be considered a basic principle in this country. The government is not a full-time nanny who can watch over each and every one of us around the clock.

      The thing is, no matter how careful you are, bad things can still happen. That sucks, but it's life. How many of you really thought you were going to live forever, anyway? But while you are living, you should be able to live with Freedom and Liberty, as a free man, according to the principles defined in the Constitution.
  • by e_lehman ( 143896 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @02:43AM (#8383563)
    According to the US State Department, around 20-30 Americans are killed by foreign terrorists each year. Typically, ZERO of these attacks are on American soil. In many cases, the attackers were no doubt unaware that their victims were Americans. For example, when Chechens took over a Moscow theater, there happened to be a few Americans in the audience.

    The 2001 attack was the big exception: 3000 Americans were killed that year on US soil.

    However, to put this in context, about 40,000 Americans are killed every year in auto accidents.

    So this is what we're sacrificing liberty for: a phenomenon that is typically less than 0.1% of the threat from auto accidents, and didn't evern break 10% in the worst year ever.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"