We’re from the government. We’re here to help.
There is a war going on with respect to the internet, but it is not the war most people think it is. We hear concerns about digital piracy from the entertainment industry, the RIAA and MPAA in particular representing the most vocal representatives. We hear rumblings from the publishing industry, as the printed word begins to decline relative to digital content. And we see ever-increasing numbers of consumers spending more and more of their income through on-line purchases.
We hear concerns about security and privacy, and the need to essentially “protect” the user from predatory companies which seek to exploit the user data for commercial gain. The current explosion in “Social Networking” and “cloud computing” has set the stage for the next big struggle. Large software companies, hardware manufacturers, and web-based social networks, creating what they call “ecosystems” and what many others call “walled gardens” represent the next battleground in the war.
The RIAA and the MPAA, arriving late to the party, have finally figured out that the internet is the content delivery mechanism of the future. The entertainment industry is in the content delivery business, and for decades have controlled most aspects of how we access, choose, and pay for their goods. They are not going to sit idly by and watch the empire crumble. And because they missed the boat at the beginning, it is too late for them to grab the early foothold the needed in order to bring something fresh to the game. So they will fall back on what they know. Lawyers, lawsuits, and lobbying.
The MPAA, in the news of late due to its heavy lobbying investment (failing) to pass the SOPA and PIPA legislation, has in its CEO the perfect, iconic representation of the problem at hand. Former US Senator Chris Dodd, barely out of office, seems to land himself the cushy gig of CEO to the Motion Picture Association of America. Is this because of his imminent qualifications and experience in the motion picture industry? I think not. It is because of his political connections, and favors performed while in the senate. By now, most are familiar with Dodd’s poorly-conceived response following massive protest of the SOPA/PIPA legislation. But this is how they are trying to play it.
Remember the “Big Three?”
Now that the internet represents the obvious distribution mechanism for all levels of content, and provides smaller publishers an equal platform on which to compete, the media companies are running scared. The war is not truly about piracy. Piracy is a very real problem, for these and other industries. However, it is not going to go away, despite new legislation or enforcement efforts. The war is, at its core, for control of the internet. Media companies have controlled the radio, television, and cable airwaves for decades. The internet, representing the ultimate replacement of those delivery mechanisms, is now the primary target.
Mark my words. While piracy, copyright, and patent protections are the buzzwords of the moment in this war, it is only the beginning. Think about this. If the realm of the internet is made “safer” or “protected” for rights holders at the expense of the overall freedom, we have lost. In 10 years time, if we allow it to happen, the internet will look a whole lot more like the broadcast television spectrum of the ‘70’s and ‘80s, and the cable networks of the ‘90s. Big media will dominate, and control most of the space. There will likely be some “fringe” domains in which “public access” occurs, but the bulk of the web will be all about big media and advertising.
Your Papers, Please?
The large corporate interests will accomplish this through heavy lobbying, for progressively more restrictive legislation which “protects” the interest of rights holders at the expense of our (the public) freedoms. It won’t take long before the costs associated with domain applications, the inevitable licensing requirements, and compliance will be so great that the average user will find the barriers to entry too high.
Arguments about piracy, privacy, security, and the safety of the “social web” are all very real and very valid concerns. However, in the next few years, these terms will be bandied about by large corporate interests, inside and outside the hallowed halls of legislatures, boardrooms, and smoky back rooms with the general goal of re-purposing the web infrastructure. If we, the public, allow ourselves to buy into it, the internet as a free vehicle of personal access, enlightenment, and engagement will cease to exists.
In its place will be another version of “Over 500 channels of crap for just $79.99 per month – some restrictions apply”
John on Google
Revenge of the Nerds
In the last week, there has been a most entertaining (and semi-civil) exchange on Twitter between the public face of the Activist group Anonymous and Dana White, President of the UFC (Ultimate Championship Fighting). The discussion escalated to the point of tough-guy talk from Dana White (Like, uh, what else would you expect from the President of the UFC?) and some interesting game-playing on the part of Anonymous. The "Hactivists" posted a link on twitter to a page containing what appeared to be a swath of White's personal data, including Social Security number, address, and financial data. On Friday, Anonymous attempted to break into the UFC server, and initiated targeted redirects of the UFC.com domain.
"Dana White - what do you have against the Internet? We're just curious, as we were quite surprised at the harsh tone of your comments . . . do you support what we do, in terms of activism & raising public awareness of critical security/privacy issues?"
- @YourAnonNews to Dana White, via Twitter
Mr. White is a supporter of SOPA/PIPA, and feels that internet piracy is no different than stealing. He would know, apparently, because UFC "pay-per-view" fights are often pirated, depriving the UFC of revenue. The hackers of Anonymous contend that SOPA/PIPA amounts to censorship and a deprivation of our basic freedoms. On which point I heartily agree.
"The only thing that we're focused on is piracy. Piracy is stealing. You walk into a store and you steal a (freaking) gold watch, it's the same as stealing a pay-per-view."
- Dana White, Thursday January 26, 2012
Been Caught Stealin'
On the point of piracy I agree with Mr.. White. To a point.
Piracy IS a big issue. Mr. White, and all those whose livelihoods are impacted by piracy are understandably pissed. And, no, it really does not matter that some of them may be really, really rich already (Mr. White is pretty well off). Stealing is still stealing, and it is wrong and illegal.
According to White: "The only thing that we're focused on is piracy. Piracy is stealing. You walk into a store and you steal a (freaking) gold watch, it's the same as stealing a pay-per-view."
And that is true.
The problem with SOPA/PIPA, and the problem with Data White's analogy of stealing from a store, is that you still need to be proven guilty when you are arrested for stealing from a store.
"I love the Internet. It helped us grow our biz. Stealing is stealing! And hacking into people's (expletive) is terrorism . . . I'm a fight promoter. I put on fights. People are stealing my shit on the net and selling it or selling ads on it."
- Dana White to Anonymous, via Twitter
SOPA/PIPA, and any other legislation which allows the government to block or takedown entire IP addresses and remove domains from the DNS system is that, under SOPA and PIPA, due process has been circumvented. SOPA/PIPA would empower the government to block sites "suspected" or "reasonably believed to be" hosting pirated content with minimal due process, and largely at the urging of large media companies and content providers.
Mr. White, I feel your pain. Piracy sucks, and needs to be addressed. However, compromising the basic freedoms of the internet is not the way to do it. The unfortunate truth is that, like any other criminal enterprise, online piracy will continue in spite of any government intervention. Like any other criminal enterprise, we the people must fight within the confines of law and order, while the criminals are not so constrained.
UFC, Hollywood, and the US government already have tools to fight piracy. They are not as effective as some would like, but they exist. Hell, the best SOPA could have done would have been to block Americans from accessing pirated content hosted on foreign servers. It would have had no impact upon foreign access to pirated American content hosted on those same foreign servers.
Increased regulation, especially of the sort offered by SOPA/PIPA would most definitely impact the internet as a whole, however. Now that Mr. White and the rest of Hollywood have begun to realize the profit potential of the internet, they and their cohorts in the Congress are also suddenly interested in seizing as much control of the internet as possible.
As I related in an earlier post, there exists the very real possibility that by the end of the decade, the internet as we know it will no longer exist. After all, the same media companies which brought you the "Big Three" broadcast television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC), and the same providers who have dominated the cable television industry have now seen the future of content delivery. And that future is the internet.
In the past decade, the internet has exploded with user-generated content. The medium is such that just about anyone has been able to create a blog, or publish a video, or create an online forum, etc. Hosting has been cheap or free, and there are few barriers to entry. We were all just fine without streaming UFC fights and Hollywood movies.
If the government and Hollywood become the heavy players in this space, you can kiss all that goodbye.
I say again - Mr. White, I feel your pain. It sucks to be stolen from, whether you are rich or poor. But let's not destroy the very thing that makes the internet great. If SOPA and PIPA had been passed into law, your pay-per-views would still be stolen. Pirates would still make new release movies available, both on the web, and on DVD. Thieves are very clever, and they don't play by the rules.
112 Channels of Crap for just $79.95 per Month . . . If you act NOW!!
I urge you all to adapt and innovate. As Apple, Netflix, and Amazon have aptly demonstrated, a user-friendly experience at the right price will win the day with handsome profits. And without forcing the customer to buy bloated programming "packages" which include two channels they don't want for every one they do. Or an entire album, at album prices, to get the two songs they want. Oh, and take some of the money you all have been shoveling into the hands of Congress through your lobbyist middle-men, and use it instead to spearhead investigations. Or to work with tech companies to find solutions which work for everyone, instead of just yourselves.
The key to maintaining your enterprise in the internet era is to jump on board, without destroying the very thing which makes the internet what it is. After all, it was a bunch of geeks and hackers who brought it this far. What right have you to claim it as yours, now?
References for this post include:
SOPA and PIPA are only the beginning . . .
We all knew it would happen. Back in the '90s, Big media came late to the internet game. For most if its history, the internet has been (rightfully) held as a free exchange of ideas and information, with very little interference from government, at least in the Democratic West.
Now, in the last decade Big Media has taken notice. With the effective monetization of the web, Corporations have now moved into "our" space. The impact can be felt in the form of new regulations proposed, on a regular basis, with the aim of restricting the freedoms of the average internet user in a manner which benefits Big Media.
Prior to the evolution of profitable business models for on-line commerce, the big boys really had little interest in "our" space, and the profiteers in the US Senate and the House of Congress were less than interested in the internet. In the last ten years, however, that has begun to change, and in the last two, things have reached a critical mass. While big business was slow to catch on for the first decade of the internet, the sleeping giant is stirring . . .
Like turning an oil tanker
There is a familiar pattern to this. Each time a technology shift occurs in the content delivery space, large publishers and media companies cry about the threat of piracy, and that the sky is falling. Remember how Home Taping was going to kill music ("and it's illegal")?
How about when recordable CD's became publicly available? This was going to end the music industry.
With the advent of the internet, the game changed on media publishers, first and most visibly for the music industry. Napster made possible the ability to share your music collection far and wide. More importantly, you didn't have to buy an entire album to get the one song you wanted by an artist. While the wide-scale distribution of content-for-nothing via Napster and it's subsequent imitators in reality did represent copyright infringement and piracy, it also demonstrated a new business model for the internet era. Unfortunately, the record companies' and publisher's reaction was not to recognize which way the wind was blowing and adapt. Instead, they resorted to tried and true tactics (not really) of "lawyering up", using lawsuits, threats of lawsuits, and scare tactics in an attempt to restore the status quo. Instead of seizing the moment, instead of becoming early adopters and profiting handsomely, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reacted in a protectionist fashion, to its own detriment.
Come bite the Apple . . .
As it turned out, Apple recognized the potential of the new business model, and dragged the music industry kicking and screaming into the internet content delivery market. iTunes demonstrated that the majority will pay for legal downloadable content, provided an adequate, user-friendly mechanism to do so. Millions of paid downloads later, both Apple and subsequently Amazon have demonstrated that on-line delivery of paid-for digital music is not only viable, but highly profitable.
By the end of the first decade in the new millennium, delivery of high-definition streaming video has become not just a reality, but a fact of life. From humble beginnings in 2001, Netflix has amassed nearly 25 million subscribers, with an average growth of 2.4 million new subscribers per quarter through most of 2010 and 2011. While the company has since lost subscribers due to a series of marketing blunders, the demand for streaming video content delivery, and the willingness of the masses to pay for it are clear. At 25 million subscribers, Netflix currently has more subscribers than any single cable service provider including Comcast.
Think the internet is going to be the place where your video content comes from over the next decade?
Print media is lagging behind audio and video in achieving a profitable digital presence. But the decline in readership of "old-fashioned" paper magazines and newspapers, combined with the rise of digital readers such as the Kindle, Nook, and of course, the iPad show which way the wind is blowing here as well. In May of 2009, eMarketer reported that "nearly 20 million eReaders were expected to be in consumer hands" by the end of 2011, and that 12% of adults will have an eReader of some type or another. And of course, who can forget that on December 26th 2009, Amazon announced that for the first time, sales of Kindle books exceeded that of physical books.
Bring on the clowns . . .
Now, as the U.S. Congress attempts to pass some extraordinarily bad legislation in the form of SOPA ("Stop Online Piracy Act") and the US Senate does the same with PIPA ("ProtectIP" Act), we stand at a precipice. For the first time, American legislators are actively considering passing into law an Act or Acts which will radically change the internet as we know it forever. Either of these proposed pieces of legislation represent the first step in a process by which Corporate America will attempt to seize control of the internet in much the same way it did the radio broadcast market, and subsequently, the broadcast television spectrum.
As things sit right now, at 10:42 PM Central Time, a day of "protest" by major internet sites such as Wikipedia, Reddit, and others appears to have rattled the cage of our fearless leaders in D.C. Support for SOPA and PIPA has been evaporating throughout the day.
Don't worry. They'll be back.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (The more things change, the more they stay the same) . . .
With billions of dollars on the line, and the evaporation of historical distribution mechanisms for print, music, and visual media, the large powerhouses of the entertainment industry are not going to sit idly by while the free-as-in-beer internet replaces the money machine. SOPA and PIPA are likely only the opening salvos in a war by which the media companies do their ham-fisted worst to seize control of the internet, to the exclusion of the layman.
Can you imagine a day in which you might need to apply for a license to host a website? Or a day in which the dominance of a small group of mega-corporations on the web infrastructure is so great that there are no avenues for entry at the ground level?
Media markets for sale - contact your state representative for more information!
This may seem like paranoid thinking, when we examine the web as it is today. But take a look back. The internet is rapidly supplanting a multitude of industries which remain, to varying degrees, entrenched in an antiquated business model predicated on dominance through regulation. Television. Telecom. Audio recording, publishing and copyright. Print media. The players in these industries are not going to go quietly into the night. Instead they will, in the coming years, bring the full war chest to the table, starting with our elected officials (you know, the path of least resistance, right?).
It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
- (Former) Senator Chris Dodd, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, in response to planned protest of SOPA/PIPA
Imagine that! A former US Senator, now heading one of the largest lobbying groups in the country, is accusing the tech industry of engaging in "PR stunts" and hyperbole. I can only chuckle at the irony.
The thinking of big industry, and its attitude towards the rest of the internet community, could not be more effectively demonstrated than by this release (former) Senator Dodd from January 17th, the day before the "blackouts":
Chris Dodd Statement on "Blackout Day Protests"
If the connected community that is the world-wide-web does not succeed in preventing government encroachment and regulation, we face the very real threat of an internet which more closely resembles the "big three" of radio and television networks than the free information super-highway envisioned by its creators. SOPA and PIPA are bad, and they will likely die in the chambers of the Congress and the Senate. But SOPA and PIPA are only the beginning.
Congressional Support for SOPA/PIPA - A chart by Pro Publica showing who supports and opposes the measures. Interestingly, in the wake of today's (January 18th, 2012) internet "blackout" by a number of major internet sites (including Wikipedia), the balance on this chart has tipped dramatically since last night as legislators flee a "sinking ship".
SOPA is a red herring by Adam Curry - Interesting commentary makes the case that SOPA and PIPA are small-potatoes compared to changes being made to the Domain Naming system itself, and that the privacy aspect of the internet will be compromised forever.
Senate Copyright Bill Loses Key Supporters - Forbes Magazine, following the rush of former supporters (and several original co-sponsors) of the SOPA/PIPA legislation as they backpedal in an early election-season rush to please voters.
There is a generation out there which has forgotten (or more correctly, never learned) the value of knowledge. In the last decade or so, it is safe to say the internet has replaced television as the ubiquitous household media resource. It is available for free in most public locations, and even on our phones. We stream music. We watch movies. Need to know where the cheapest gas price is within five miles of your current location? Google it (or use Bing, or any number of other services available for "free").
For this generation, the instant availability of up-to-the-minute, detailed and accurate (ok, I'm using the term "accurate" loosely here) information on just about anything is simply an everyday expectation. And it better be free. The internet has been available to them since before they could speak. Even some of us who were alive and kicking in the pre-internet era have come to rely on this instant availability of data, directions, and content.
Which is a problem in some ways. There is a lot of information available for free on the Interwebs. Some of it is even of fairly high quality. To your right on this page I have added links to the weblogs of some folks who regularly put their time and energy into sharing what they know, bringing (in most cases) years of schooling and experience to the table for free, so that folks like myself can improve their know-how.
The Shoulders of Giants
I am a self-taught programmer. Meaning, I have to seek and find the information I need in order to learn this complex art, because I didn't listen to my mama when she said "go to college, son." Now, in my forties, I really, really want to learn everything I can about programming and development. "Self-taught" is actually a misnomer here, because in reality, everything I know and have learned about programming has come to me through the efforts of people who saw fit to go to school for this, and/or who mastered the computer at an early age and have accumulated professional experience. Most importantly, these folks also felt some perverse inclination to share what they know via their blog posts. Via on-line forums and user-groups. Via Stack Overflow. Mostly for free.
Now, I am not so naïve as to think that there are not selfish reasons any blog author or "developer evangelist" type undertakes these efforts. Blog authors may, in addition to simply wanting to engage the community, hope to derive some ad or affiliate revenue from page views. "Developer Evangelists" are obviously paid to engage the community and build support for the ecosystem in support of their employer. But in most cases, each of these people would tell you they would do what they are doing for no money.
Quality Content vs. "Free"
Some of these folks have taken things a step further. Scott Hanselman and Rob Conery just yesterday released a screencast The Art of Speaking: Scott Hanselman on TekPub (Conery's successful company which provides high-quality tech-focused screencasts for professionals) featuring Mr. Hanselman presenting on the topic of, well, presenting. The cost for this 90 minute, downloadable, stream-able content? $18.00.
Scott Hanselman is one of the foremost presenters on tech topics today. Yes, he is employed by Microsoft as an evangelist. But for years before that Scott has been publishing content on his blog for his own reasons, and on a wide variety of topics. He is in high demand as a presenter, and for good reason. Rob Conery has created a business which provides high-quality video productions at a comparatively modest cost. The two decided to publish the afore-mentioned screencast, and it is exceptional.
Immediately began the G+/Facebook/Twitter complaints about price. Really?
I have to seek and find the information I need in order to learn this complex art, because I didn't listen to my mama when she said "go to college, son."
We expect the web to provide everything for free. We complain about the price of a $0.99 app for our smart phone. We complain when someone makes space for AdSense ads on their site, hoping to recoup the cost of hosting and possible put some pocket change away. We want the top-rated educators and presenters of our time, who have invested countless years and countless dollars into learning their craft, to turn around and share the wealth for free.
At What Cost, Knowledge?
I for one, am happy to pay a paltry $18.00 for 90 minutes of Mr. Hanselman's time. Or how about $30.00 for several HOURS with C# guru John Skeet? Or any of the other TekPub subjects, who have created hours and hours of content, for very, very modest prices.
Does this sound like a plug for TekPub? It might, but consider it instead a metaphor for all affordable, quality content. TekPub is currently but one of the more visible examples where one can find true "rock star" status professionals walking us through some of the most relevant content in the tech realm, at prices rivaling that of a decent dinner or a few drinks. I am not ashamed to discuss products here that I believe in. In reality, I was simply angered by the complaints I read on-line by people who thought that $18.00 was just too spendy for a 90 minute video by a well-respected authority on the subject.
Many in the tech community give freely of their time and knowledge, in so many ways. There is definitely a sense of "giving back" despite the fact that some also attempt to garner a little revenue from the deal. I myself have started this blog so that, maybe, someone coming behind me might garner a few nuggets I have picked up along the way. This is also why I contribute, to the degree I can, on Stack Overflow. I also hope, maybe in a year or two, to pay my hosting bill. Yup. There are a few ads sprinkled on here, in case either or both of my readers want to click on a product, and help me pay the hosting tab. But in reality, I just want to contribute, engage, and be "part of".
When all is said and done, I owe that much, for all I have taken. But when those with the know-how and experience to do what I can only dream of doing decide to charge some nominal fee for access to what they know, count me in. If you don't like the cost, go search Google and assemble 90 minutes of content matching the clarity and quality of a TekPub or other screencast for which you might have to shell out the price of an evening at the movies.
Lemme know how that works out for you. In the meantime, I have some vids to watch.
Referenced in this post:
- Stack Overflow
- Scott Hanselman
- John Skeet
- Rob Conery
John on Google
This isn't tech-talk!
I know, but I couldn't resist. Normally I would avoid politics in the blog space. But this is an issue which transcends right vs. left, Democrat vs. Republican, and the partisan bullshit we find permeating the media today. American citizens should be afraid. Very afraid. Not for their own sake, as I suspect most Americans are not, in fact, aiding and abetting terrorists. Instead, we should be concerned as a nation with the erosion of our most basic constitutional protections.
A Schutzstaffel for modern America
You are awakened at 2:00 AM by the sound of your door caving under a battering ram, wielded by black-clad government agents. You are subdued, pinned to the floor, placed in restraints, carted off to an undisclosed location and locked up. You are not informed as to the reasons for all this, your not charged with a crime, and you are not afforded access to an attorney. You are not scheduled for trial, but instead are held for months on end.
You may or may not be "interrogated." Your family, employer, and friends have no idea what has happened to you, or when, if ever, you shall return.
Oh, the drama
Ok, so that was a bit dramatic. The Schutzstaffel, commonly known as the SS in Nazi Germany, represents an extreme example of what can happen when the police powers afforded The State are not constrained by sufficient legal controls. But we may be sliding down a slippery slope in that direction right here in the good ole' USA with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 . A large number of Senate Republicans, joined by a small number of Democrats recently voted against an amendment to the Act which would have explicitly affirmed that American citizens are constitutionally protected against indefinite detention at the order of the president.
"What we are talking about here is the right of our government, as specifically authorized in a law by Congress, to say that a citizen of the United States can be arrested and essentially held without trial forever"
- US Senator Dianne Feinstein(D-California)
Instead, the bill was passed with much weaker language essentially confirming the current state of affairs, under which the government attempts to claim some murky authority to arrest and detain American Citizens without due process, under the guise of the "war" on terror.
In debate on the issue, Senator Dianne Feinstein(D-California) argued in support of the amendment: "We as a Congress are being asked, for the first time certainly since I have been in this body, to affirmatively authorize that an American citizen can be picked up and held indefinitely without being charged or tried. That is a very big deal, because in 1971 we passed a law that said you cannot do this. This was after the internment of Japanese-American citizens in World War II .What we are talking about here is the right of our government, as specifically authorized in a law by Congress, to say that a citizen of the United States can be arrested and essentially held without trial forever."
"In World War II it was perfectly proper to hold an American citizen as an enemy combatant who helped the Nazis . . ."
-US Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina)
Arguing against representative Feinstein, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) contends that "In World War II it was perfectly proper to hold an American citizen as an enemy combatant who helped the Nazis. But we believe, somehow, in 2011, that is no longer fair. That would be wrong. My God, what are we doing in 2011? Do you not think al-Qaeda is trying to recruit people here at home? Is the homeland the battlefield? You better believe it is the battlefield."
Uh, Ok Senator Graham. During World War II it was also perfectly acceptable to segregate American troops on the basis of race. It was also perfectly acceptable to detain "for the duration of the conflict" American citizens of Japanese extraction simply for being, well, of Japanese extraction. In other words, on the basis of national origin. Notice that in Senator Graham's argument, he avoids mentioning this particular (and most infamous) implementation of citizen-detention-as-combatant.
I would argue that the US Constitution already provides the protections which Feinstein and other supporters of the amendment to the Defense Authorization Act speak (which does NOT mean that affirming such protection explicitly in the Defense Authorization Act would not be an important step forward).
The Fourth Amendment
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The Fourth Amendment specifically describes "The right of the people . . ." It can be taken as an axiom the "the people" in this instance means the citizenry of the nation, as established in the famous preamble to the Constitution itself:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The Fifth Amendment . . .
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger . . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . "
There are those who might attempt to argue that the clause which states " . . . except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger . . ." Note, however, that the operative phrase here is "When in actual service".
If this is not enough, the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution creates an even more explicit case against against detention without due process:
. . . As Enhanced by the Sixth Amendment:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."
Note in the opening sentence the statement "All criminal prosecutions"
If the government, acting through the intelligence community and/or law enforcement, is unable to produce intelligence and/or evidence of terrorist activity sufficient to affect criminal prosecution under the laws of the land, then they have failed at their task, and should go back and do the job correctly. To paraphrase a famous quote, better that 100 terrorists go free than a single innocent American be unlawfully detained under these draconian measures.
Who are the Combatants, Anyway?
The US Government seems to think it can erode the rights of the citizen by declaring "war" on intangibles. The "War on Drugs". The "War on Terror" Etc. Who are the combatants in these "wars?" The Constitution of our great nation provides a mechanism for dealing with citizens who violate the law of the land, even in cases of Treason. Mere suspicion of terrorist collaboration is not sufficient to warrant the suspension of constitutional rights. While the actions of terrorist organizations are reprehensible (and ineffective at achieving the goals of the organization), when we as a nation allow our government to act in a manner contrary to our beliefs and ideals, and in contravention of the idea of the liberty we espouse as a model to the world, the terrorists can claim victory.
The Integrity of Our Nation
"The United States should not grant victory to the terrorist forces of the world by compromising those values we hold most dear. In doing so we damage the credibility of our nation, of our law, and of our leaders in the eyes of the world."
The United States should not grant victory to the terrorist forces of the world by compromising those values we hold most dear. In doing so we damage the credibility of our nation, of our law, and of our leaders in the eyes of the world. Given the current political circus, and the status of America in the global economy, we don't need any help with that from our "leaders" in the Senate and Congress.
Ideas and information for this post were drawn from the following sources: