Every time Joe Lieberman makes headlines these days, I wonder why he's not a member of the Bush administration. He can put whatever label he wants on himself: Independent. Libertarian. Space Alien. It doesn't matter. Joe Lieberman embraces the politics of fear and is a perfect fit for the Bush regime
Yesterday the breaking news was that the erstwhile senator from Connecticut has the last bastion of freedom in his crosshairs: The Internet. Apparently joltin' Joe has decided that the Internet promotes terrorism, and he has demanded that YouTube remove hundreds of videos made by Islamic terrorists organizations and their supporters. After a review, YouTube identified 80 videos that violated its own guidelines, which prohibit hate speech and graphic or gratuitous violence. These were removed while the videos that did not violate YouTube's guidelines were allowed to remain. That isn't enough for Senator Lieberman. He has asked YouTube to remove more. Removing the videos from YouTube does not remove them from the Internet. Perhaps Lieberman doesn't realize that there are literally hundreds of other sites where these videos are more than likely getting plenty of airplay.
How convenient that this should happen now with two of Lieberman's pet projects gaining steam on Capitol Hill. The first is the report issued by the Senate homeland security committee, led by Senator Lieberman, entitled Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat. This report calls the Internet a primary 'driver' of the terrorist threat to the United States. The Internet is nothing more than a communication vehicle. It doesn't drive anything. Terrorists are the primary drivers; they utilize the Internet just like they use cell phones.
The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act passed by the House in 2007 is even more disturbing than the Lieberman committee report. This legislation calls for a commission to study the terrorist threat and propose legislation. Like the report, this bill demonizes the Internet, accusing it of promoting radicalization and terrorism. Again, the Internet does not promote anything. The users of the Internet promote what they wish. Removing these videos and sites from the Internet only serves to cut off a means of monitoring their activities, and legislating the Internet unduly penalizes its millions of lawful users.
The Senate has not yet taken up this bill, and the message from the public should be clear if and when it does: The Internet must remain untouched. Legislating free speech is not a deterrent to terrorism. In fact, just the opposite is true. The country would be better served if the commission studied the root cause of the terrorism directed at the United States and made real-world recommendations based on facts.
"There ought to be limits to freedom." ~ George W. Bush
In case you thought this statement was just another 'Bushism,' think again. Consider all the freedoms we have given away since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Congress haphazardly passed the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which allows the government the unprecedented opportunity to look at our cell phone, medical, financial and tax records. It gives the government the right to look at the books we buy from a store or borrow from a library without probable cause, and it allows the government to break into our home and conduct a search without warning and without telling us for an indefinite period of time.
In December 2005 the New York Times let us all know that the National Security Agency (NSA) was tapping into our phone calls without a warrant with the assistance of some of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. In spite of the Bush administration's interpretation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), we now know that President Bush broke the law when he authorized the NSA to spy on American citizens without a warrant.
Equally disturbing are the things that get slipped into legislation and passed that we may never know about. A provision of the No Child Left Behind Act requires that student contact information be turned over to the military for recruiting purposes, and districts must certify that no policy prevents the participation in "constitutionally protected prayer in public schools." It's amazing how the administration invokes the U.S. Constitution when it suits the need.
I urge all Americans to think carefully about the road we are going down. We have become a nation of sheep dutifully relinquishing our rights because we are constantly told that's what is necessary to be kept safe from terrorists. In fact, the more rights we lose, the less safe we are. The Bush administration has used the politics of fear to keep us in line since the September 11, 2001. It's time to just say no to those who want to limit our rights and freedoms. Let's start by saying no to Joe Lieberman.