"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I guess this means we've won the war on terror

It sounds like a joke, or a news headline that might have been thought up at The Onion, but unfortunately it's real: embattled Attorney General Alberto "I Can't Recall" Gonzales is proposing a new crime of "attempted" copyright infringement. No longer will it be necessary for you internet music and software pirates out there to actually infringe on someone's intellectual property; all you would have to do is "attempt" it. Furthermore, under the A.G.'s proposals, you could be imprisoned for life under certain circumstances for using pirated software. Forget robbery, rape, and murder: finally, someone is cracking down on the real criminals in our society!

Gonzales and the Bush administration are pushing Congress to pass a bill known as the Intellectual Property Protection Act (IPPA) of 2007, which is likely to receive the enthusiastic support of the movie and music industries, and would represent the most dramatic rewrite of copyright law in years. Apparently it's not enough for the RIAA to sue college students, dead people, and others thousands of dollars each for downloading tunes such as Duran Duran's "Girls On Film". The new laws would give authorities broad powers to, among other things:
  • Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are “attempting” to infringe copyrights.
  • Allow computers to be seized more readily. Specifically, property such as a PC “intended to be used in any manner” to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture.
  • Criminalize “attempting” to infringe copyright. Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement.
This is just incredible, and I hardly even know what to say. With all the serious problems this nation faces at home and abroad, this is what these guys find important? It is very disturbing to me that we seem to be getting closer to a police state every day as our civil and digital rights are gradually and continually being chipped away by this administration. At this rate, soon even thinking about downloading music illegally will become a crime.

The good news is that so far the IPPA has not gotten any sponsors, which it needs to go forward, and that Gonzales' current low regard on Capitol Hill could inhibit support for the measure. New testimony presented this Tuesday revealed that in 2004, Gonzales pressured Attorney General John Ashcroft (who was in a hospital bed recuperating from pancreatitis at the time) to certify the legality of Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program. Ashcroft rebuffed Gonzales, but the White House certified the program anyway. The Attorney General has been less than forthcoming about the matter to say the least, and his selective amnesia and general air of incompetence have not served him well in committee hearings. Further testimony next week by Gonzales' former White House liaison, Monica Goodling (under a grant of immunity), is likely to erode his credibility even more. Yet, don't count him out by a long shot, as respected political columnist Margaret Carlson reports on Bloomberg.com:
How interesting that World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz was being forced to negotiate his resignation, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is sailing along like Mark Twain, with rumors of his demise greatly exaggerated.

It's shocking that Gonzales continues to hold down one of the most sensitive jobs in Washington now that his cluelessness has been exposed for all the world to see.

He still rises each morning to run a Justice Department he knows almost nothing about, nor who decided to get rid of eight U.S. attorneys. He knows just enough to swear that no one at the White House had anything to do with it.

Gonzales holds onto his lease with a political loyalty so blind and unbending as to trump every other instinct, including embarrassment over barely being able to recall his own name before Congress.

The one bright spot is that as I write this, there are only 614 days left of this national disaster called the Bush administration. We can't get these morons out of office soon enough.


  • At 5/17/2007 01:42:00 PM, Blogger Janelle said…

    What a load of horse crap! I cannot believe they think something like this is more important over everything else going in in America. My husband and I are counting down the days until Bush gets the hell out of the White House. Bush and Gonzales remind me of the movie Dumb & Dumberer (the second movie. Not the first staring Jim Carrey). It amazes me to think how they got into office in the first place.


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