Thursday, March 09, 2006

That quaint Fourth Amendment


U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment
Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized


Young Son:
Mommy why did that policeman in the old movie have to say court order and then give the guilty man a piece of paper before he went into his house?

Mother:
Well...I think they use to have to do it like that a long time ago.

Young Son:
You mean they don't have to do that way anymore?

Mother:
No sweety, not any more. The government already knows who the bad people are - they don't need to bother those judges at the court and ask them to write it on a piece of paper.

Young Son:
Oh. When did they change the rule Mommy?

Mother:
I'm not really sure.


President Ignores the Constitution in Eavesdropping Case


Senate panel rejects bid for NSA inquiry

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The messenger is deaf to his own message:

There was a time when Dr. Thomas Barnett seemed like the right man at the right time to lead a debate about the long course that America needed to chart in what, after 9/11, became known as the Global War on Terror (GWOT) - but which has now become "The Long War". My belief that Dr. Barnett could lead this debate has ended.

It is obvious to me now, although it took almost two years to come to this conclusion, that Dr. Barnett is interested in preaching his singular view more then he is concerned with adapting his view to new facts. For Dr. Barnett the wisdom of how to confront the long war is not to be found by all of us in an open and honest debate. Instead he would have us all close our mouths and open our ears to the inarguable wisdom that he alone possesses.

The contents of this post are long because I am including a series of email correspondences that I recently had with Sean Meade (the webmaster for Dr. Barnett's website) and Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett. If you would like to understand the views of Dr. Barnett in order to have some background for the references in this post I would direct you to Dr. Barnett's web site:

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/

and his web blog:

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog

These emails began when a comment that I made on Dr. Barnett's web blog was rejected by his webmaster Sean. My comment was made in reference to the post by Dr. Barnett entitled:

Contrary to current conventional wisdom, Bush’s Big Bang strategy will be treated very favorably by history

which Dr. Barnett posted on March 1, 2006 and which can be found by following the link below:

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/2006_03.html

My comment is based on the entire context of his post but as a reference for my argument I decided to refer to the last paragraph in this post which, for me, acted as a good summary of Dr. Barnett's entire piece. My reply comment (indented below) to Dr. Barnett's post is not the original but an approximation that I had to create from memory. The reason for this is detailed later on in the chronologically listed emails:


Of late many like minded minds have found it necessary to change their views based on an abundance of facts. It would seem that you do not concur with their reasoning. As an example of this I site your comment in this post which states:

We will never push the autocrats to reform on our own, and we will never co-opt the Salafi jihadists. Both of those groups are hunted down by history. But co-opting the nationalist Islamists is a legitimate choice: the least of three evils and the vessel through which the Big Bang reaches its near-term fruition.

Do you really think that America (a democracy which was made possible because of enlightenment principles) would agree that their blood (2444) and treasure (300 billion) was a fair price to pay for establishing Islamist Nationalism in Iraq. It would seem to me that this outcome could have been accomplished by them alone without us having to expend our bodies and our economy in its accomplishment. Also, in light of what has happened in Iraq and in the Palestinian elections under the leadership of President Bush, why would you believe that America is in a position to co-opt another Islamist country.

In my view America needs to step back from the previous big think that brought about the Big Bang of Iraq and spend some time repairing the damage that that same leadership has wrought. In view of all that has occurred to date - taking the position that the current leadership has not been a prime cause of the failures in Iraq is an argument that is no longer defensible.


Below (separated by ****) are the series of emails that followed after I submitted my comments to Dr. Barnett's post.

**********************************************************************************
Sean Meade to James Smith:

James,

I'm deleting your comment. You have been primarily critical of Tom in your comments. I have let a few of them slide. While there is great room to disagree with Tom on his weblog, I think this should come from a place of basic agreement. If you're in basic disagreement with Tom, there are many other places to write about that, including your own weblog. I refer you to the comment policy [ http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002858.html ] and will happily approve comments from you in the future that adhere thereto.

Sean

**********************************************************************************
James Smith to Sean Meade:

Sean,

I find it interesting (funny actually) that the man who loudly advocates connectivity and open content flows prefers instead to live within a very controlled and regulated information environment.

My comments are meant to invoke a debate on a point of disagreement. It is through this process that the validity of ones ideas are tested. It is quite evident though that Tom is not motivated to engage in any forum where his ideas are tested, and possibly refined, to the benefit of those who originally saw potential in his views.

Having followed Tom through his writings over the last couple of years (blog, books, magazine articles) it has become painfully obvious that he is, above all else, a preacher. His views are to be accepted in total and on a faith in him alone. They are never to be questioned within the context of a rational debate and above all else comments to him should always be positive and reaffirming. Well Sean I do not envy your roll in this process - a process made evident by your comment below (a comment, I might add, that contradicts itself):

While there is great room to disagree with Tom on his weblog, I think this should come from a place of basic agreement.

For you to not see the hypocrisy of this statement in the context of the views that are openly expressed by the man that you work for is rather sad.

I can see now that there is no possibility that Tom will engage America in an open and honest two way debate about the course that we, as a country, chart in this long war. It was just this possibility that originally made me enthusiastic about his views almost two years ago. I remember thinking at that time that finally America could be enlightened to the cause of the global war on terror and with that knowledge begin a debate on the solution that would bring about its ultimate defeat.

Instead time has shown that Tom has no interest in using his microphone to engage in an actual debate that would allow this country to move in a positive post 9/11 direction. Tom, for reasons I am unable to understand, is more interested in a one way conversation that in the end only benefits him and his interests. And perhaps this is the source of my confusion - ultimately Tom's interest ($$$) and my interest (America) are different.

Best of luck to you Sean. Censorship is a tough job for an American to support but hopefully it pays well.

Jim

**********************************************************************************
Sean Meade to James Smith:

James,

You are overreacting. I summarily dismiss your pronouncements and accusations. Feel free to comment (within the policy) on Tom's site in the future.

**********************************************************************************
James Smith to Sean Meade:

Feel free to comment (within the policy) on Tom's site in the future.

No thanks Sean. If I wanted to have my comments and opinions filtered I would move to one of Tom's GAP states. I expect more openness in this country else we become them.

Jim

**********************************************************************************
James Smith to Thomas P.M. Barnett:

Subject: Question about open content flow

Tom,

I am trying to understand why my comment on your blog was filtered (deleted) by Sean. Although the content of my comment was argumentative and questioning it in no way met any criteria for being excluded from an open discussion. My comment was made in reference to the post indicated below that you made on March 1, 2006:

"Contrary to current conventional wisdom, Bush?s Big Bang strategy will be treated very favorably by history"

It seems very disingenuous to me, in light of your views, that you would have any policy about excluding comments on your blog - with the possible exception for those that contained profanity, racial insults, and the like. To filter your blog comments like China (or some GAP state) would filter the content of your own books (to your great frustration) seems hypocritical to say the least.

In the hope of facilitating authentic discussions and rational debates I hope that you will allow your blog comments to become more then just a place to nod in agreement.

Jim

**********************************************************************************
Thomas P.M. Barnett to James Smith:

The blog is my home on the web. You come to my home, you need to keep it reasonable in tone, otherwise I ask you to leave because I just don't need that sort of stuff in my house. If you want to do that sort of thing, do it in your own place.

Sean doesn't filter criticism, he filters tone. Don't post anything you wouldn't be willing to say to my face in my house. That's too much to ask, because it's not incumbent upon me to house a discussion that I don't want to host. The web is free: everyone can set up their own house and make their criticisms known there on whatever scale/tone they want. But when they come to my house, they need to act like they're coming to my house. Because my house is full of guests, and I want the tone of all those interactions to work not just for me but for all of them. We get to set that standard--again--because it's our house.

I trust Sean's judgment. He doesn't pick fights and he doesn't enforce any dogma. He does worry about the tone, because if it gets bad enough, I'll simply kill the comments again. We brought them back because so many readers want a place to share ideas, so to participate in that party at my house, you need to meet a certain threshold of commonality for that process to work, otherwise you spoil the party.

Again, if you feel constrained, it's a free web. Bitch all you like anywhere you like. Plenty of people do. I just don't have to pay money to host it, nor pay Sean to ignore it.

**********************************************************************************
James Smith to Thomas P.M. Barnett:

Tom,

To be very honest with you I would have no problem stating my deleted comment to you in person. My original assumption was that you, as well as your blog and its participants, were open to a two way discussion that is allowed to progress logically to the extent that the known facts allow.

The assumed setting that I had in mind was more in line with friends at a neutral bar (before the alcohol takes its full effect of course) then at someones home. However, if I am reading your response correctly, your characterization of your blog as your home makes my above assumption incorrect and my comment in bad taste.

I would never be so disrespectful as to begin, or even enter into, a discussion as heated as politics, world affairs, or religion in my hosts home. Although, in my defense I will say that it is difficult to resist the temptation when the host continues to introduce these subjects to the exclusion of all others.

Well, I guess I will just nod politely and have another black olive and a carrot stick - nice weather were having today don't ya think?

Jim

**********************************************************************************
Thomas P.M. Barnett to James Smith:

If that's all you can manage in that environment, then it's no problem.

You're the only delete we've had in hundreds of comments so far, nor any complaints on tone or substance.

So I think we'll live with this outlier.

Thanks for the emails.

**********************************************************************************
James Smith to Sean Meade:

cc: Thomas P.M. Barnett

Sean,

If you don't mind could you forward me a copy of my rejected comment. In an overly naive American way I assumed that my comment would be posted - so I did not bother to retain my own personal copy. I truthfully have never had a comment rejected in the hundreds of comments that I have posted over the last several years.

In an effort to authentically document the actual cause of this issue as objectively as possible it would be very helpful to have the specific written words that comprised my comment.

Thank you in advance for your help with this matter.

Jim

**********************************************************************************
Thomas P.M. Barnett to James Smith:

Sorry. Conversation is ended. Time to move along.

Something I'm sure you've heard before.

**********************************************************************************
James Smith to Thomas P.M. Barnet:

No I haven't - you are the very first.

I have a feeling though that your inability to intellectually debate what you so ardently preach will bring those same words to your ears soon enough.

America is tiring of men with microphones - what we long for are leaders who can defend their reasoning as rationally as they shout their orders.

In any case Tom I wish you continued good luck in your ministry - keep the faith and to hell with the facts.

Jim

**********************************************************************************

And so, in my view, the man who proclaims that openness and connectivity are the solution to the long war finds censorship a viable option to control the dissent he finds in his own life.