Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Howdy, Pardner!

There's a new sheriff in town, and he ain't gonna take no guff from the likes 'a you!

According to the recently retired CIA Director, the internet is the new Wild West, and the 'gummint' needs to ride on in an settle things down. I guess folks out here's gittin' a mite too ornery for the administration's likin'.

...but ultimately the Wild West must give way to governance and control.
The Internet represents a potential Achilles' heel for our financial stability and physical security if the networks we are creating are not protected.
Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously.

- George Tenet, former Bush Administration CIA Director

The Frame
That the benevolent sheriff must protect us from the hooligans that threaten our national infrastructure and that the best way to do that is to restrict internet access in the US.

The Reality
Political Oppressors 'R' Us.

Cutting off internet access for US citizens is a means of preventing information from flowing freely outside of government controlled channels.

If the concern were really people hacking into and crippling our infrastructure, it would make sense to either block the access of the people who pose the threat, or isolate the vulnerable segments of the network from the rest of the internet. Neither of those things will be accomplished by clamping down on internet access by US citizens. But, in classic Bush administration style, the statement of the actual problem is just a smoke screen, and fixing the problem is out of the question. Instead, they'll just remove a little bit more freedom from us, while claiming that it makes us safer.

In 1999, China did the same thing, using pretty much the same "protecting the infrastructure" excuse. They even had a way cool name for the state organization in charge of preventing information flow, "State Information Security Appraisal and Identification Management Committee:"
China has announced that it is setting up a new body to guard security on the Internet.

China's official news agency said the newly-established committee would protect confidential government and commercial files as well as individual users and would have the ability to identify any Net user.

It said the aim was to keep national secrets from being stolen.


BBC Beijing Correspondent Duncan Hewitt says that concern about the risk to businesses has been heightened after a recent survey which pointed to poor security controls in the computer systems of many companies.

Of course, since the report was about China and not the US, the press actually covered the story for what it was - political oppression:
China is clamping down on the Internet, but new regulations governing online news and chat rooms reveal a country caught between the desire to foster e-commerce and the need to prevent political dissension.

In the bombastic style that old-line Communists learn from the crib, Beijing has deemed it illegal for any online forum to contain dialogue that "leaks state secrets," "offends the national honor," or advocates "evil cults" (a euphemism for outlawed political parties).

They even reported on interesting twists in the political censorship story:
The Chinese government is up to its same old tricks, this time censoring the Internet and, of course, jailing political dissenters.

Ironically, Chinese officials are being aided and abetted in their repressive policies by the country that worships free speech, or at least by some of its companies. The London Observer has reported that Amnesty International identified Microsoft as one of the major companies in the West helping to further "the dramatic rise in the number of people detained or sentenced for Internet-related offenses."

Nowadays, China's extending their crackdowns, shuttering internet cafes, charging huge fines, and imprisoning people. The Chinese Oppression flavor-of-the-month is morality - the government must protect the people from the pornography, gambling, and violence:.
The ministry said porn, gambling and violence have adversely affected the healthy development of the internet in China.

Isn't that special!?

So first China used the need to protect the infrastructure from bad guys as their cover for political oppression, now they've moved on to safeguarding morality as their cover.

Looks like maybe the Bush administration has been not only reading, but memorizing China's "Little Handbook of Political Oppression."

So how is the US press reporting the suggestion that the government needs to protect us from free information flow on the internet?

Mostly, they're not, because, at Tenet's request, the press wasn't invited to the speech, though excerpts were leaked to UPI by a program participant:
The national media, including United Press International, were excluded from the event at Tenet's request, organizers said, but UPI was given an account of the speech by a member of the audience. The quotes were verified by a source close to the former director.

But, hey, really, it's for our own good. Just stand back folks, the sheriff's saddlin' up his white horse, puttin' on his white hat, and readyin' to ride into town to fix everything.

Yeah, that's the ticket!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leave it to the left to make fun of a regional accent .I suppose the infrence here is that people from the south west are not as smart as those on the coasts.Why not give us your best impression of a black accent next time , or you might want to lampoon the cuban, russian,vietnamese, or some other immigrant group you hate .

1:38 PM  
Blogger rhetoretician said...

I figured it would be obvious, but I guess not. Maybe I can figure out some kind of visual aid for you, so you'll have an easier time recognizing sarcasm in future posts...

Just to make it clear, in case you still don't get it:

The fake accent is a play on our beloved former head spook's "Wild West" crack. The frame he's implying is that the government is like John Wayne, coming to the rescue of us, the dimwitted, helpless citizenry of some frontier community being overrun by internet bandits. Using the accent of a stereotypical "helpless bumpkin" character from a John Wayne movie is meant to illustrate the ridiculousness of the whole insulting idea that we are helpless idiots.


6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well i reckon i git ya

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone gets it. The point I thought the first gentleman was making was that such speech is ALWAYS regarded in a bad way from the left EXCEPT when they are insulting someone on the right. In fact, you and those of your political persuasion would have had a serious problem with anyone using a stereotype since you claim stereotypes are so bad and so demeaning. If that is not what he meant than I am happy to make the critisize like this all the time.Try being honest and holding yourself up to the same standards yuo hold your opponents.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[looks up] Huh.

Well, about the post itself -- excellent. It's a perfect illustration of differing views of security. Everyone agrees that the Internet needs to be more secure, but because conservatives reason the way they do, they conclude that the solution is to restrict freedoms to preserve order.

Whereas all the evidence demonstrates that the best way to increase security on the Internet is to build technology in an open way, so that the community can fix security problems as they appear. This fits in nicely with liberal frames, but clashes with conservative ones. Oh well.

What's truly hilarious is that, if the Internet were restricted to those who take security seriously, anyone using a Windows computer would be pretty much out.

Although now that I've said that, it doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

-- Dan Kurtz

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am writing here becouse the author of this blog failed to leave a way to do so in her last post .Imagine if the author and his crew were in charge.He knows what is "enough " for you and what is "fair"You have worked 100 hours per week for years but you have amassed "enough" and are at the verge of going over.In comes our estemed author to tell you to give some back.After all its only "fair"
I dont know about you , but when I sit down to dinner i Do not want the author telling me when i have had "enough" to eat.But perhaps I am wrong. Maybe I even missed the irony in his last paragraph.
for example,
"Of course, those of us who do recognize the concept of "enough" and believe in fairness will continue working our behinds off to defeat those very people, even though it's seemingly against our own interests"
The concept of enough..who says when or what is enough?Fairness?.. is life fair.
Can you just see it? In the authors world everything is "fair" and everyone has "enough" Everyone agrees on what is "enough" If you don't agree then the author and his thugs beat you down and make you agree.That would be fair.and when you earn what the think is "enough " you give anything over that gladly back to be distributed to others.Otherwise they take it from you with force .That would be "fair"
Does any of these sound familiar to history buffs.You all had better get in line and start understanding the concepts of "enough" and "fairness" or else

3:47 PM  

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