"More and more Americans who have done nothing wrong find themselves unable to fly, and in some cases unable to return to the U.S., without any explanation whatsoever from the government," said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "A secret list that deprives people of the right to fly and places them into effective exile without any opportunity to object is both un-American and unconstitutional."
So I'll wring my hands, but, I know that once you have a bureaucracy it's difficult, if even possible, to turn it off from it's role, which may have been precisely defined to start, but becomes vague over time. This recent list making mania is a nice example of this general rule about man made organizations which are devised to protect an ideology, rulers - elected or otherwise, and, the all time favourite, national security which really encompasses the other two I think.
The only difference between harsh or brutal, authoritarian regimes and our democratic authoritarian models, regarding the information gathered about us, I think, is that we have a sense we can openly talk about it. In harsh regimes you can't talk about it openly, as individuals, and their forms of media are usually directly control by the government authorities. Whereas ours publish occasional stories about the matter thus supporting the illusion of a free press; providing good cover for a corporate controlled agenda - which maybe good or bad; and allowing most to luxuriate in complacence about our wonderful society.
The list mania seems reminiscent of the East German Stasi, an unchecked bureaucracy which, as all seem to do, just keep running, almost like perfect perpetual motion machine but producing next to nothing of any value. But a useful tool for terror and wholesale or selective oppression.
And to think, if Cullen Murphy is correct, it all may have started with the Inquisitions and you know how long those little fandangos went on. A good summary of Murphy's thesis was in The Publishers Weekly and it chillingly rings true for aspects of the current list making mania of undesirables, I think:
"… while the inquisitions most often are associated with the Church, they arise anytime an organization, state, or institution possesses and uses tools—such as censorship and torture—to stoke and manage suspicion, intolerance, and hatred of the other. Inquisitions require a system of law that can be administered with uniformity, the power to conduct interrogations and extract information, a bureaucracy with a large staff of individuals to administer it, a capacity to restrict the communications of others, and a source of power to ensure enforcement. Murphy powerfully shows that the impulse to inquisition can quietly take root in any system—civil or religious—that orders our lives."