Bush Intel Official Says that People Must Forget About Former Privacy Expectations

A top intelligence official says it is time people in the United States changed their definition of privacy.
Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, citizens must downsize their civil liberties to recognize that the government will intrude into previously protected areas. On one hand, Kerr can be credited with a degree of honesty — albeit unsettling. Kerr was testifying after Democrats spared President Bush from a showdown over the unlawful domestic surveillance program. Now they are thinking of granting immunity to companies who assisted in the violations. The Bush Administration appears to be assuring them not to fear: privacy is soooo twentieth century. The new watchword is “total transparency”: the ability of the government to follow its citizens in virtual real time without probable cause.

The fact is that the Bush Administration has been waging a war on privacy in secrecy. Anonymity is a fascinating issue for Kerr to isolate since the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the right to anonymity. For a former column on the issue, click here
For a prior academic work on this right, click here

For the full story on Kerr, click here and here

2 thoughts on “Bush Intel Official Says that People Must Forget About Former Privacy Expectations”

  1. With the current administration, no good ideas go unpunished and no (constitutionally)poor ideas go unpromulgated. One can almost take a contrarian position to both Article I and II provisions and Bill of Rights guarantees and accurately predict administration initiatives.

    What is so alarming is the doleful record of Congress and the Courts in counterbalancing this.

    We all remember Admiral Poindexter, he of Iran-contra fame [one can’t keep a good executive branch maximalist down for long it would seem], and his Total Information Awareness Initiative which was transparently unconstitutional and was duly batted down by Congress.

    But of course, of course, this Administration seems to honor the forms of the law, but act in the end as it wills when it sees a national security issue at stake. So TIA survived official rebuke and yet flourished, sub rosa, and with it many more things we lack the whistleblowers (yet) to know of.

    The idea of citizenship being dependent on relinquishing all privacy expectations, is as a matter of historical and psychological fact, repugnant. And it is also very likely constitutionally invalid.

    And so of course this administration eagerly seeks to have us all under its sternly protective gaze all the time and in en potentia all our many transactions.

    But the Founders were percipient men; Madison in the famous Remonstrance:

    “Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”

    And if there ever was a dangerous principle that should not be allowed even an inch of precedence, it is the idea that the citizenry have no right to anonymity from the unlimited gaze of the government.

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