© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com
For the life of me, it sure seems like Adolph Hitler's secret police, the Gestapo, was reincarnated in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
As I mentioned last week, some senators and congressmen are clamoring for more authoritarian powers for federal law enforcement agencies, to include expanded wiretapping authority and the power to hold people suspected of any kind of terrorism indefinitely.
Now, something called the "Gilmore Commission," headed by Republican National Committee Chairman and Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, III, has recommended the U.S. combat cyber-terrorism by setting up secret courts, among other things.
"Prior to Sept. 11, many people questioned whether nation-states or rogue terrorists had the capability to disrupt our critical infrastructures on a wide scale. Since Sept. 11, we must presume they do," Gilmore said in a statement issued by the committee Oct. 17.
"Whether the threat manifests itself in the form of a physical attack against computer hardware and real property that houses critical portions of the Nation's Internet backbone, or in the form of a cyber attack against computer software and the Internet controls, America's cyberspace needs protection," he added.
Yes, that's true – but it is in the way we try to protect this critical infrastructure that ought to be carefully crafted and scrutinized.
Gilmore went on to say that his committee recommended the government keep its "Y2K" offices intact and rename them, "cyber security offices." The committee also recommended the "creation of an entity to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for research, development, test and evaluation of processes to enhance cyber security."
It also wants to create "a not-for-profit entity that can represent the interests of all affected stakeholders – public and private – including national security, law enforcement and other government functions, business and industry interests to provide cyber detection, alert and warning functions."
Far be it from me to notice, but that sounds like a lot of needless – though typical – Washington doublespeak for a desire to create more cumbersome and repetitive bureaucracy. Swell.
That's not the worst of it, however. One other suggestion made by the committee makes all its recommendations suspect, at least in my mind.
The committee has also called for the "establishment of a special 'Cyber Court' patterned after the court established in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." That court, which is "patterned after … the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" is, for all purposes, a secret and unaccountable court.
"The so-called FISA court is notorious among civil libertarians for being a secret, seven-judge court that meets behind closed doors to approve surveillance requests in 'national security' cases," said a Wired magazine news story last week. "Proceedings are sealed and judges do not require 'probable cause' – a legal standard required in ordinary investigations – before ordering eavesdropping or surreptitious entries to plant listening devices."
Congress created the FISA court in 1978 to oversee foreign intelligence investigations that were too sensitive to take through the normal process. The FISA judges review the Justice Department's requests and, with the exception of one or two cases, have always approved them," said Wired. "Because the FISA court meets in secret, and its orders are sealed, subjects are often unaware they're under surveillance."
Just when we thought this war on terrorism was being waged to preserve our freedoms and liberties, we learn that the longer it goes on, the more some of our leaders are attempting to use it as an excuse to curb or eliminate our freedoms. What gives?
If "secret" powers are the only way we can defeat the scourge of terrorism, then we've lost this war already. Secretive legal proceedings in courts of law stacked in favor of government by government is not what I call freedom.
As those who mean to destroy our way of life wage a holy war against us, the last thing we ought to accept is a jihad against our legal system. To the Gestapo wannabes on the Gilmore Committee, I say you need to find a way to protect our nation's critical infrastructure without urinating on the Constitution to do it.
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Jon E. Dougherty is a staff reporter and columnist for WorldNetDaily, and author of the special report, "Election 2000: How the Military Vote Was Suppressed."
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