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Archive for November, 2015

benfranklinduplessisLeaders of the CIA, the NSA, and other mouthpieces of the permanent state security industry, miss no opportunity to exploit tragedy as justification for expansion of their powers.  Witness the response to the Paris attack – a renewed attempt to increase warrantless snooping, and to gain backdoor access to your encrypted email and internet use.

No matter that the cure would be worse than the disease, exposing all to increased risk from hackers, cyber criminals, and spies foreign and domestic.  A broken lock is a broken lock. Any encryption backdoor for the government will inevitably fall into the hands of the criminals, not to mention the risk of wrongdoing by those within the government.  Anyone remember President Nixon?  The real bad guys will use real encryption.  Only law-abiding citizens would be exposed.  Backdoors to encryption would do very little to protect us from harm, but would put legitimate internet users at risk, invade privacy, and would seriously harm the ability of some our most successful companies to export their products.

I propose an unholy alliance between the left and the National Rifle Association, built around the slogans of liberty employed by the gun nuts.  Some Electronic Liberty slogans:

WHEN PRIVACY IS OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE PRIVACY
SUPPORT YOUR RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ENCRYPTION

Moreover, there’s little evidence that warrantless snooping protects anyone.  State snooping endangers democracy and freedom – just ask those who lived under the chill of the Soviet Union – but it won’t protect you from the terrorists.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

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Profiles in Courage

Half a century after JFK penned that title, the most unlikely of leaders is showing extraordinary political courage in the face of growing xenophobia, religious bigotry, racism, and dark fears.

In the political arena, this show of courage may not end well for Angela Merkel. The real and imagined challenges of massive immigration may overwhelm her, long before German society comes to accept and honor what she has done.

Doing the right thing isn’t easy.  Large scale Immigration will test the limits of Germany and Europe’s ability to cope, and may end a political career.  But it is precisely because she has acted in the face of those difficulties that her resolve is noble.  Surely she must know that recognition for her courage, if it ever comes, may be a generation or more away. That makes her service all the more commendable.

If the EU and Germany survive this crisis intact, Merkel will be noted as a transformative figure, and Germany may have atoned for her sins in a most unexpected and appropriate way.

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