I'm more afraid of the government than I am of Al-Qaeda.

Bush says that secret wiretaps will continue.

Frankly, I wasn't surprised at all that the NSA was collecting intelligence within the boundaries of the United States. What surprises me is that the President would admit to and defend these actions.

In the United States, we have a tradition of not using the military for law enforcement inside of the United States

Some of this probably comes from law, for example the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which was "passed to remove the Army from civilian law enforcement and to return it to its role of defending the borders of the United States"

But mostly, I think it is a cultural value of Americans. The media portrays it as a "big deal" when a Governor calls out the rinky-dink National Guard to restore order. A few thousand part-time soldiers show up carrying 30 year old rifles, driving 50 year old vehicles, and we flip out.

But using the honest-to-god military? That's almost unthinkable. We place so much value on human life. Our law enforcement spends millions upon millions of dollars to use the least amount of force necessary to enforce the laws. And when they use even the slightest bit too much force, the shit hits the fan. Example: A man sued three police officers for using excessive force. What was the root cause of this problem? He was in a 9-hour standoff with police, barricaded in his home with his 8-year old daughter and a gun.

Our military on the other hand, is the fiercest, most lethal force to ever walk the planet earth. Within mere hours, we can precisely land a series of powerful atomic warheads on just about any point in the world. Within days, we can have an assault force of hardened marines at the doorstep of an unfriendly dictator. Look at military law enforcement in Iraq: A driver disobeys an order to halt at a roadblock, and everyone in the car dies. Can you IMAGINE the reaction if this same event occurred in Cincinnati?

The world is a big and nasty place. In the interest of national security, the rules might have to be bent a little bit. Sometimes, we may have to act fast to nail a terrorist inside the US. But openly bending the rules on a regular basis? That's stepping across the line.

The intelligence services play in the big-boy world, where concepts like "not using excessive force" aren't exactly paramount. They lie, they cheat, they blackmail, they assasinate, they kidnap, and apparently they torture. Just like the military, they aren't particularity good at playing nice.

We need to be VERY careful about trading our traditional values for security. To be sure, Al-Qaeda is a threat. But I think the larger threat is losing our freedom to a government out of control.