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Fear Knocks on America's Door

November 23, 2002

I find Jonathan Turley's Nov. 17 commentary on the Bush administration's new Information Awareness Office very disturbing. He points out that "with no public notice or debate, the administration has been working on the creation of the world's largest computer system and database, one with the ability to track every credit card purchase, travel reservation, medical treatment and common transaction by every citizen."

Why has this come about without an outcry? The answer is fear. FDR said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," to get our countrymen to invest in an economy wrecked by the Depression. That was a positive use of the idea of fear. Turley points out that "over the last year, the public has yielded large tracts of constitutional territory that had been jealously guarded for generations." This, too, is a positive use of fear. The White House has been using the fear of terrorism to take from us the freedoms that generations of American soldiers have fought and died for.

Are we not better off that some of us die from acts of terrorism rather than lose our liberties? Patrick Henry evidently thought so when he said, "Give me liberty, or give me death." So, President Bush, put that in your computer and chew on it!

Leon M. Salter

Los Angeles

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The Total Information Awareness project is, indeed, an Orwellian project. Conceived by disgraced former National Security Advisor John Poindexter, it would obliterate many of our most cherished concepts of privacy and freedom from government intrusion into our private lives. A high-tech Big Brother for real.

Now I must insert a new threat in my priority listing of the forces that are the greatest threats to the way of life I have enjoyed for 80 years: (1) Al Qaeda; (2) Total Information Awareness project; (3) Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft; (4) Saddam Hussein; (5) Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

John M. Freter

Yucca Valley

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John Balzar hopes that ordinary people will soon take control of their future instead of feeling powerless against the consolidation of power in Washington (Commentary, Nov. 17). Yet, on the same page we read for the first time in The Times, in Turley's column, that the Bush administration has employed Poindexter to oversee the Information Awareness Office and serve in this administration's latest version of Big Brother. Good old Iran-Contra hero Ollie North may not be far behind.

June Maguire

Mission Viejo

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Re "Court Widens Wiretapping in Terror Cases," Nov. 19: I have Arab neighbors living on my block, and I am friendly with them. Suppose they were under investigation. Under this new ruling, the FBI could come into my house and terrorize me and my family without a search warrant just because I talked to them. Our forefathers would roll over in their graves to see that we gave up our constitutional rights. Are we so weak with fear that we let Ashcroft destroy everything our forefathers fought and died for?

Ted Pearson

Valencia

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Shortly after The Times published Turley's commentary on the Information Awareness Office, Ashcroft attempted to justify another Orwellian government power that the Bush administration is seeking with yet another example of "doublespeak." He said that the ruling by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review on wiretap guidelines "revolutionizes our ability to investigate and prosecute terrorists." Yet he also said, "We haven't really changed the threshold" for undertaking a search. How is it possible to revolutionize something without really changing the threshold? Big Brother is gaining strength.

Don Payne

Santa Ana

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