Sorry, I'm going to get off of my techie soapbox for a moment, and talk a bit about world events. If you're not interested, keep clicking on to other stuff.
Dan Gillmor is dead on, yet again:
Washington Post: In Terror War, 2nd Track for Suspects. The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system.
If you want to see America turn into a police state, just go on about your daily life as if nothing has changed. After all, your silent assent is what Bush and his constitutional wrecking crew expect from the American public.
If the executive branch has the unilateral authority to invalidate your legal protections, the Constitution is basically dead. And if you think that this power won't be abused more and more over time, you have never read any history.
It's frightening, really - is this how fascism took over seemingly constitutional democracies in the early twentieth century? Don't forget - those people were elected into office, too - and kept the general populace complacent because they were only going after the "others" - the Jews, the Gypsys, the homosexuals, not the good, upstanding people who had nothing to fear, of course, as long as they toes the party line. The "Total Information Awareness" program in particular scares me, for so many reasons, and as a computer professional who has been around the block a few times, the risks of abuse alone are frightening to consider.
I think that the only way to fight terrorism, I mean really fight terrorism at its root causes is to truly act as we preach - if we really believe in democracy and transparency , then let's practice it ourselves. If we really believe in equality, then let's put our money where our mouths are, and follow through. Let's support democratic elections and systems, even when the new rulers don't align with our short-term interests. Let's stop supporting those who oppose liberty, tolerance, and equality, like the various kingdoms and dictatorships that we currently support out of "necessity". The American people are looking for a vision of hope, and a hopeful vision of the future, but what they're hearing is fear and hate and surveillance, and the "opposition" party is sitting on its hands.
The world is a big and scary place - yes. It's time to start practicing what we preach and not acting like the world's bully, because the way to true security is through more liberty, both here and abroad. With our current actions, we only further incense hatred, and make things worse.