The United States has never opened its arms to immigrants seeking asylum. Before September 11, aliens would arrive only to be shackled and handcuffed to an airport bench, suffer through multiple interviews, wind up in a county jail or private correctional facility, and finally file their cases before an immigration judge. Sometimes an asylum seeker would get released on parole, but just as often, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) would keep him in jail for the length of his case. And if he won, he'd be among the lucky third of those who win freedom.
As almost everyone knows, Gollum is the character from The Lord of the Rings trilogy with a severe split-personality disorder. He hates J.R.R. Tolkien's protagonist, Frodo Baggins, because Frodo's uncle took Gollum's precious ring -- the ring that Frodo now wears and that Gollum covets. At the same time, Gollum also loves Frodo, his "master," for treating him with kindness. Gollum expresses this inner war through his oft-repeated refrain, "We hates master. No! No! We loves master."
With that in mind, consider some of our president's recent foreign-policy pronouncements:
We hates the United Nations. No! No! We loves the United Nations.
Before President Bush had even revealed his first budget for the Department of Homeland Security, Democrats were preparing to pounce. The day before Bush unveiled his budget, presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) accused him of shortchanging homeland security. The next day, according to The New York Times, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) alleged that Bush's budget reflects the "quirky notion of the White House that you can improve homeland security without spending the dollars." Another Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) is already on record as accusing Bush of not doing enough. In fact, a game of sorts has emerged between Lieberman and Edwards as to who can accuse Bush most vociferously of underfunding domestic security.
Eleven young, dark-skinned men shuffled out of an elevator handcuffed to one another. A few tripped over ankle cuffs as three officers in puffy blue windbreakers -- with "IMMIGRATION POLICE" splashed across the back in bold yellow lettering -- ushered them through the entry chamber, out a pair of glass doors and into a van waiting to take them into detention. The room was briefly silent as security guards, bureaucrats and lawyers alike watched the procession. Then the silence broke. "Numbers 55 through 60, numbers 55 through 60!" rang an Immigration and Naturalization Service official's voice. Outside, television crews from Al-Jazeera and Univision, among others, were on hand to film the events.
If the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program scares you, you're not alone. Of course, even if it doesn't scare you, and the Pentagon has its way, you still won't be alone. That's kind of the point.
The problem is, if you're worried enough to try to find out more about this mass monitoring system, you run into a predicament: Pentagon officials want to know everything about you but they don't want you to know anything about them. Here, for instance, is what happens if you call up the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) to find out a little more than what you read in the papers. (DARPA is the agency developing the new terrorist-tracking technology.)