Richard Falkenrath is tired of all this civil rights nonsense.
Falkenrath is a former official with the Department of Homeland Security and now works for a consulting firm run by former Homeland Security honcho Michael Chertoff. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Falkenrath explains why a recent ban of the Blackberry by the United Arab Emirates was greeted “with approval, admiration and perhaps even a touch of envy” by “law enforcement investigators and intelligence officers” here in America.
The UAE banned the gizmo because its officials could not easily snoop on BlackBerry users. Falkenrath says the ban was justified because the BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion, had “refused to modify its information architecture in a way that would enable authorities to intercept the communications of select subscribers.” Which “select subscribers”? Any subscribers the UAE government selected, of course. (RIM later cut a deal with UAE officials to restore service.)
Alas, because of legal obstacles in the U.S., “there remain a number of telecommunication methods that federal agencies cannot readily penetrate.” Falkenrath disparages the “liberal sensibilities” of those who wish to keep private communications private until a proper warrant is issued.
There’s a word for a government that can easily sidestep the rights of everyone in the name of national security: Dictatorship. Would Americans really be more “secure” if, like the United Arab Emirates, we lacked freedom of speech, freedom of association, democracy, and so forth?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.