Opinionated @ CFE

Progressives, Civil Liberties, and Hypocrisy


I remember a time not that long ago when progressives and libertarians could find at least one point of agreement: defending civil liberties from the abuses of unchecked executive power. In the last couple of years, however, progressives aren’t talking much about civil liberties and the libertarians are the last ones left keeping a watchful eye. And thank goodness we are.

fter almost two years, Obama’s record on civil liberties is at least as bad as his predecessor, if not worse. Gitmo is still detaining, FISA is still wiretapping, organizations that try to deliver the president’s promised transparency are vilified by the White House, we’re virtually strip-searched and actually molested in the next escalation of security theater, and those who try to expose the government’s illegal and immoral acts are tortured at the hands of the military. But progressives, by and large, are keeping their mouths shut. I’m only left with one conclusion: the vast majority of progressives are raging hypocrites. Now that the president has a D next to his name, the criticism has all but vanished.

So what’s the deal, progressives? Where’s the outrage now that the new boss is doing what the old boss was doing, only worse? Until you start openly criticizing Obama at least has harshly as you did Bush, you have no credibility on civil liberties.

Wikileaks Matters (And That's a Good Thing)


Wikileaks has probably just redefined the world we live in. I know, it’s really easy to make statements like that. In this case, it’s entirely true. Wikileaks has proved once and for all that the Internet has won in the war for access to information.

First off, it has proven that removing data is impossible. There are now 1200 (and counting) mirrors of their site data around the world, accessible to anyone. There’s even a “poison pill” of data floating around on bittorrent just waiting for the key to unlock it to be in the wild. By trying to quash the site via hosting providers, the feds have just been cutting up a starfish. If you really want data to be secure, you can’t let it get on the Internet. Once you do that, the game is over and you have lost.

Second, it shows that the Internet will absolutely react to companies that will not stick up for their customer’s rights. PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard have all been knocked offline by vigilantes angered at the termination of services. It’s all been done via volunteers who download an open-source application to volunteer their bandwidth for DDoS attacks. With the push of a button, someone can become part of a virtually untraceable weapon that can take down the engines of our commerce. That kind of ease should give pause to anyone else who won’t stick up for a customer’s rights.

Third, we’re now getting to see some truly atrocious goings-on from our foreign policy. Other nations trying to goad us into war with Iran? Check. Acting as foreign lobbyists for credit card companies? Check. Funding a contractor that buys underage boys to pimp out in Afghanistan? Check. We probably wouldn’t know any of these things without Wikileaks, and we have a right to know about these things before we’re asked to support our foreign policy.

A lot of people are saying some pretty ridiculous things about lives being in danger because of this sunshine. Hogwash. If any lives are in danger, it is because the federal government meddles too much in foreign affairs. We have no business manipulating the legislative process of another country. We have no business occupying another country. We have no business launching a preemptive war. These things, trying to extend American hegemony across the globe, are what put Americans in danger. That we now get to see the very ugly details of what that policy entails is just pointing out what we tried so hard not to know.

I’m hoping that the revelations posted by the site expand into the promised banking malfeasance and other corporate wrongdoings. I hope other governments get their dirty laundry hung out in the open. I hope these powerful interests get the full scope of their malevolent actions put on public display. After all, if you have nothing to hide, what’s the big deal?

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