Any thoughts on this?

Robert S. Thau (
Mon, 9 Aug 1999 09:58:42 -0400 (EDT)

Jay Thomas writes:
> Granted, this guy *abhors* Clinton, passionately. Then again, so do I. He
> still sounds a bit paranoid to me, but I was wondering if any other FoRKs
> had heard of this/had an opinion.

First reaction: same old same old. I wouldn't be surprised if the
report has already been written (or at least exists in some kind of
draft form), and I would be surprised if some fairly noxious proposals
*weren't* already floating around the bureaucracy --- ranging from
subpoena rights on crypto keys (perhaps even tolerable if it doesn't
put us on the slippery slope to key escrow, but I'm not sure how to
avoid that), to extension of CALEA in some form onto the net, all the
way to renewed attempts to regulate content (so what do you Silly
Valley types think of having Feinstein as your Senator anyway?)

They float these sorts of proposals all the time. Sometimes Congress
puts up a fight (viz. the recent vote to block spending on the FIDNET
network monitoring proposal), and sometimes they don't (CALEA) ---
though even when they seem to be fighting, you still have to watch for
a quick change gutting the language in conference committee (which may
well still be possible for the relevant appropriations bills; I just
haven't been keeping track). And sometimes the spooks just find a way
around whatever restrictions Congress placed on them (Echelon).

(And it's just one aspect of the Clinton administration's horrid
record on civil rights issues generally --- ranging from the CDA to
"anti-terrorism" bills that effectively strip all meaningful due
process rights from non-citizens, by allowing them to be imprisoned or
deported on the basis of "evidence" which they are never allowed to
see. Not that this is a partisan issue; these are among the few
Clinton administration proposals that *haven't* faced any meaningful
opposition from the Republican Congressional leadership. But I

What I don't see in the somewhat hyperbolic note you forwarded is a
reason to believe that this particular report will be any more
noxious, or any more consequential, than all the others; remember that
Louis Freeh is on the hill, it seems, at least once every few months
arguing for new forms of wiretapping authority, and the whole purpose
of this report could well be to give him a stage prop to wave around
next spring while he says the same sorts of things in committee
hearings that he's been saying for years now. (I'd love to see him
acknowledge the Whitey Bulger mess in Massachusetts in the same breath
--- in which a couple of townie G-Men apparently shielded Charlestown
gangsters from the law for years, and then helped them go on the lam
when, at long last, they could no longer protect them any other way
--- but that's not going to happen).

I'm not saying I know for certain this report *is* just another stage
prop, as opposed to, say, part of an effort to give the wiretap
proposals a higher public profile. I'm just saying that I'd need to
see evidence that it's something more, and I've seen none yet.