Rather dissapointing news (constitutional freedom edition)

We’ve got a Congress that can’t seem to do much of anything.  So, how is it that they can manage significant bipartisan support for two bills that seriously erode a number of pretty important freedoms.

What?  Is everyone trying to best Angela Lansbury?

First is the National Defense Authorization Act which appears to allow the Executive Branch (the president) to identify anyone as a member or supporter of al-Qaeda, Taliban or ‘associated forces’  and then detain them forever, without trial or recourse.

Granted the bill says detainment can only last for the duration of hostilities but with powers like this and a political environment like we have can anyone seriously imagine a time when a president would ever say:

My fellow Americans.  The War on Terror is finally over!  Ice cream for everyone!!

I have got a VERY bad feeling about this.  Our best case scenario (as I see it) is that the bill won’t get more inclusive than this.  Most likely…wait for Congress to trip over themselves to widen the provisions of this bill to include people like Mexican drug traffickers and a whole array of others.

More from Homeland Security Watch.

The second cause of concern is the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ which really should be named the ‘Subsidize the Bloated, Inefficient Entertainment Industry Act’.  The industry would have you believe that everyone who reuses a piece of copyrighted material is a dangerous sociopath responsible for the economic collapse, 9/11, and the reason Grandma got cancer.

This act would attempt to stop online piracy but probably would just end up stifling online business and communications.  And while I appreciate attempts to prevent another Justin Beiber from being unleashed upon the world (apparently, he’d merit a felony charge for doing what he did to get a record deal), this clearly isn’t the way to go about it.

So you don’t sing cheesy songs on YouTube?  Well, you should still care:

The really scary thing about SOPA is its potential to permit large scale Internet censorship without much oversight. It’s a Pandora’s Box sort of problem, especially given the vague legal language used in the bill. According to the proposed framework, OPEN cuts out the Attorney General, instead inviting rightsholders “to petition the International Trade Commission (ITC)” a little-known independent federal agency with more experience dealing with trade disputes over physical goods than it does with e-commerce — “to launch an investigation into digital imports and digitally-facilitated imports of counterfeit goods,”  It’s then the ITC’s job to decide if the accused sites are “‘primarily‘ and ‘willfully‘ engaging in infringement of U.S. copyrights or U.S. trademarks” and if so, “issue a cease-and-desist order against an accused website” that could block payments and ads.

Yes, what we really need right now is to engorge a federal agency so that it can monitor all the websites out there and decide who’s putting up Spongebob Squarepants clips.



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