Both Trump And Clinton Suggest Expanding Mass Surveillance, Bogus Watch Lists After Attack In Orlando
from the because-of-course dept
The script for what to do following a tragedy like the one in Orlando over the weekend is now quite clear: politicians want to appear “serious” about the issue, and thus they say stuff to appease people, even if what they say makes no sense. There was a lot of senseless rhetoric going around, of course, and we’ll leave the usual debates about issues we don’t cover on Techdirt to lots of other sites. But an issue we do cover is surveillance and bogus ideas like “watch lists” where a mere accusation leads to basic rights being taken away. And, unfortunately, it appears that both major Presidential candidates are advocating for greater surveillance and denial of civil liberties as a response to someone shooting up a nightclub and killing dozens of people.
Clinton’s plan? Expand the “terrorist watch lists” despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of people who appear to be on the list for no reason at all, and whose lives are basically a living hell because of it. No matter, Clinton says let’s expand it:
“We need to look carefully at this,” she said. “Should we have a broader database? If someone comes to the attention of the FBI not once, but three times, that suggests that law enforcement needs to know, that people need to be more aware.”
Meanwhile, Trump, beyond the much publicized and repeated plan to stop anyone who is a Muslim from immigrating to the country (even though the shooter was born here), also encouraged a much broader version of the already idiotic “see something, say something” campaign:
He also said Americans need to be willing to call the authorities when they see friends, family and neighbors performing suspicious activities.
Chelsea Manning, who is serving an insanely long sentence for leaking documents, wrote a thoughtful and insightful piece arguing for why we should not toss away our civil liberties in response to these attacks.
We must grieve and mourn and support each other, but in our grief and outrage we must resist any temptations to let this attack – or any attack – trigger anti-Muslim foreign policy, attacks on our civil liberties or as an excuse to descend into xenophobia and Islamophobia.
However, an attack like this is carefully planned and executed to maximize attention by inflaming the passions of a helpless public. Because of this, the response can be more dangerous than the attack. The refrains of “safety and security” have, for many years, been used as a tool by the powerful to justify curtailing civil liberties and emboldening backlash against immigrants, Muslim people and others.
Not for the first time, someone locked up on a questionable basis is making a lot more sense, and sounding a lot closer to the ideals of America, than either of people running to lead the country.