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ThoughtCrimes R Us?

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2006 12:44 AM

"You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany."

� Ben Kenobi

Yes, friends, we got trouble. Right here in River City. We got trouble that starts with i and that stands for the internet.

So says the head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Yes, indeed, we could have terrorists learning how to make bombs and preaching their hateful ideology right there on your home computer.

"Those are the kinds of terrorists that we may not be able to detect with spies and satellites," he says.

Spies and satellites are also notoriously bad at finding the monsters hiding under the bed.

Of course, since spies and satellites don't work, we will clearly need more tools along the lines of USA PATRIOT and covert, warrantless wiretaps. We need to be able to imprison people for indeterminate periods of time, and torture them for information they don't have.

Will we now consider hits on URLs associated with Islamic militant groups to be the same as a phone call to the Middle East?

What else might qualify for investigation? Citations of the Koran? Disagreement with American foreign policy? Posting photos from your recent trip to New York? Owning books on cryptography? Environmental activism? Reading Harry Potter books?

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