AUGUST 23, 1999
The DOJ booby trap
© 1999

A common theme both here at WorldNetDaily and on the air with talk radio has been incrementalism: government's slow, consistent chipping away at the very foundations of liberty and freedom upon which this country was founded.

The list of grievances delineated in our Declaration of Independence included the various "usurpations" the colonists had suffered at the hand of a tyrannical King George.

Liberty and freedom have been the nexus of myriad rebellions, revolutions, and academic philosophical debates. From the fields of Scotland to the moors of England, and from the original 13 colonies to the Balkans, liberty and freedom, even more than home and hearth, have been principles worth fighting for, worth sacrificing for, and even worth dying for.

Revisionist anti-constitutional, would-be controllers continue to use the incrementalism tools to erode, undermine and abrogate the very Constitution to which they have sworn an oath.

An often-quoted 1759 line from Benjamin Franklin is, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." He had cautioned us against the temptation of allowing a federal nose into the tent. He understood (as few today do) that if you permit a small compromise to essential principles, you have established a precedent for further "small bites." One drop of water will not split a granite boulder. However, the consistent dripping of water over time will split the hardest stone as surely as a sculptor's hammer and chisel.

In 1994 (only 235 years from Franklin's admonition, and a nanosecond in geological terms) FBI Director Louis Freeh said, "The American people must be willing to give up a degree of personal privacy in exchange for safety and security." Wait a sec Louis, ole Ben said if we do that we don't deserve either what you want us to give up, or what you claim will be our reward.

This usurpation of privacy, liberty and freedom has remained a consistent goal of the Clintonistas. The national ID tool returns again and again with lunar reliability. The drops of water crash off the granite of our inalienable rights again and again, only to be swept away by diminishing reason and principle. The anti-constitutionalists again and again reach for what is just beyond their grasp. They routinely lose the national ID battle, and come back. They lose the privacy battle, and come back. They abuse power under the color of authority, consistently and routinely, only to occasionally get slapped down, but they come back. I find myself hating their objectives, but admiring their determination.

The latest assault includes administration plans to ask Congress for police authority to secretly enter folks' personal computers and crack their security codes.

According to last week's Washington Post, the so-called Justice Department has drafted legislation (the Cyberspace Electronic Security Act) which would permit investigators to receive a sealed warrant from a judge to enter private property, search through computers for passwords and override encryption programs. The plan calls for a judge to sign sealed search warrants as an administrative forward to obtaining further court permission to wiretap, extract information from computers or conduct further searches.

Peter Swire is the White House chief counselor for privacy -- yeah, the same White House that has routinely assaulted the privacy of thousands from the Filegate flap to the criminal White House database to RICO violations, excoriation of the Privacy Act, abuse of power under the color of authority by using the IRS, FBI, NSA, CIA, and other "government" agencies for blatant political and personal gain. A smarmy Swire told the Post the administration supports encryption as a way to provide privacy for computer users (to everyone except "us" apparently). "But it has to be implemented in a way that's consistent with other values, such as law enforcement. ... In this whole issue we have to strike the right balance." BULLFEATHERS! Who determines the "right balance"? Who decides what is "consistent with other values"? And by the by, whose values?

These anti-constitutional, anti-privacy, anti-liberty, and anti-freedom SOBs (supporters of Bill) have, since landing, been trying to create law to require computer companies to give police a "back door" key into computers regardless of any encryption software. This isn't new, and it is not original to Clinton's gang. PROMIS software was stolen by the government, converted to government use, and is currently in use in hundreds of banks globally.

Over 250 Congress critters have signed on as co-sponsors to legislation to prohibit mandating these back-door devices on computers. General counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, David Sobel, says this "strikes at the heart of the Bill of Rights." He's got that right.

Last year in all federal and state courts combined, judges only issued 50 warrants for so-called "surreptitious physical entries." This latest DOJ plan "would make police break-ins far more common than they are now."

Basically, this insidious plan would "allow investigators to booby-trap your computer ahead of time" by disabling encryption. No doubt the reason/excuse for this legislation is the frustration investigators bump into when finding encrypted data on bad guys' computers.

Now we are going to hear a lot of "I don't do anything illegal, so what do I care." If (and this is a very significant "if") we could reasonably expect only bad guys would be targeted, many would accept this incremental assault to privacy. However -- reality check -- you can't. Who gets to decide what a "bad guy" is? Is it a convicted criminal involved in criminal commerce? Is it a political critic that has offended the administration? Can or would the administration use the FBI, NSA, et al. to target current or potential political critics? The Western Journalism Center and over two dozen other conservative groups have already been attacked by the IRS in what evidence indicates were "political audits."

"Kill 'em all, and let God sort them out" was a popular piece of graffiti in an unpopular war. This Cyberspace Electronic Security Act would in effect destroy the concept of privacy, and gift to dubious federal control a power that never was and never would be enumerated by any reasonable person.

Thomas Jefferson (who would be spinning in his grave over this kind of garbage) once said "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual."