Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Sham democracies: The US model examined


The United States likes to showcase itself as the defender of freedom. It is actually the proponent of absurdity.

The United States has no credibility in showcasing the benefits of democracy. The system is a sham. We compare the two divergent approaches.

We need only compare the country’s approach to protecting information. There remain two standards. One applies to the infrastructure. Another lesser standard applies to the individual.


Remember those days when the law applied to everyone? You know, Congress passes a law to impose a requirement, and everyone says, “Wow, Federal Government is intruding on my private life.”

Strange the US even fought a civil war over states rights. Last time I checked, there was a principle called federalism. You know, that little concept that says, “When the Federal government says something, it applies, even if you live in a state that doesn’t agree.”

Throw all that history out the window, folks. The 21st Century has arrived. No longer can you look to Iraq as a “shining example of Democracy.” You only have to look to the United States to see how upside down things are.

Domestic Intelligence abuses

During the 1960s and 70s the US intelligence community had a nasty habit of eavesdropping on people. Something about protesting against a war. Then, with Watergate the stuff really hit the fan.

Out of all this mess came the 1974 Privacy Act. It was intended to ensure that the Federal Government stayed out of your life. Ha! Forget the fact that your social security number is used as a tracking mechanism by both government and commercial entities.

Consumers abused

Consumers need to remind the Iraqis how upside down things can get. In an effort to avoid federal accountability for eavesdropping, private corporations now engage in the practice. Indeed, it’s all done for “your protection.”

Fast forward to 2005. National Law Journal in the Jan 24, 2005 edition has an article on page 15 about the Privacy Act [FN 1]. Then on page 16, there’s an article talking about database breaches [FN 2].


See where this is going? There’s an implied technical-duty on corporate personnel to notify corporate management of security breaches; but in cases of privacy act information, the 1974 Privacy Act only applies to the Federal Government, not the states.

One standard says there is a notification requirement to contain the problem; while with respect to personal information, the courts say “Hands off, do nothing.” The Federal government is more concerned about protecting the integrity of the system, not with the potential for abuses against the individual.

That’s ridiculous and smells of more of “what the country asks its citizens to fight and die for overseas, but does not practice at home.” What’s going to be done about this?

The United States should not be surprised why the Iraqis soon go discontented with democracy. There are holes in it. And the holes are so wide, you could run an internet cable with private information through it.

Here’s a hint to the legal community. If you want your clients’ information to remain private, then you need to ensure that federal law is federally applied.

Identity theft

Let’s not be surprised why identify theft is a problem. Last time I checked, the Federal Supreme Court has ultimate jurisdiction over state and local officials. But, that standard no longer applies.

It should be no surprise why Congress both rubber stamps the Patriot Act, then does nothing of substance when Gonzalez and Rice show up to face “vetting”: Another rubber stamp.

  • Priorities: Constitution to protect the individual from the tyranny of government

    Why is the country attempting to enforce a “breach notification requirement” on corporations, yet the Federal Privacy Act only applies to Federal agencies? The government is more concerned with protecting infrastructure, not those who create the infrastructure.

  • Applicability: 24/7

    Why isn’t Federal law applicable to the entire country? Oh, it only applies in situations to justify invading the South; but does not apply in situations when invading Iraq.

  • Constitution: A duty to preserve and protect

    Where’s this thing about “bill of rights” applying at all times, not when it is convenient for the government to comply with that standard? Oh, that’s right: The country requires the catalyst of a lawsuit to glacially find that the laws apply.

    Accountability problem

    The country isn’t serious about applying the lessons of the 1960s and 1970s. We should not be surprised why there are more Abu Ghraibs and Guantanamos: The law only applies when it is convenient, not when most prudent.

    Such a standard invites a vote of no confidence. Yet, it is this absurd system that the South fought against, lost, and the nation now proposes as a “solution” for Iran. Ask Seymour Hirsch about the preparations.

    God knows the poodles in DoD will be glad to find another excuse to commit abuses and avoid accountability. They’ve got another budget increase and more excuses not to follow the law.

    Then again, the law doesn’t apply if you’re overseas and fighting a war. Ask King George Bush about sovereign immunity. It applies to him, and these days everyone else, even those who violate the rights of individuals.

    Both Iraq and Iran will continue to learn that democracy only works if you have both the funding and political will. The United States has both which it so well applies so wrongly. It remains a wonder the Federal Government defeated the South.

    There should be no surprise why the country continues its march to Iran. The fascism continues. The country believes its own propaganda about “democracy.” Once it was cotton, then it was oil, now it was “whatever excuse they want to invent.”

    So much for societies based on the rule of law and prudent discourse. The United States remains a country based on absurdity. Such is not a firm foundation upon which a nation can hope to neither either inspire the hearts of its citizens, nor or propel its system of values upon the brows of those who disagree.

    We’ve seen many pyrrhic victories. Perhaps the United States shall soon see one on the streets of Tehran. As King George already said, “Bring it on.”

    Footnotes [FN]

    1. “Privacy Act Applies only to Federal Government, “National Law Journal, p. 15, in re 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Schmitt v. City of Detroit, 03-1884, Jan 14th decision.

    2. Heiko E. Burrow and Brian C. McCormack. “Database Security: Breach Notification.” National Law Journal, Jan 24 2005, p 16.