apolla: (Prettiest Guitar)
[personal profile] apolla
I just emailed my MP about this whole thing. Coming on top of the habeas corpus destruction of this week, I'm really not America-friendly right now. While I'm mostly talking about the government, I shall quote V: "...the truth is, there's something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? ... If you're looking for the guilty, you need only to look into a mirror. I know why you did it. You were afraid. Who wouldn't be?" 

Anyway, I am this close to starting the Revolution early... so to put it off at least until morning, here's the letter I wrote:

Dear Ms *name deleted cos this is the internet and that*,

I have never written to an MP before. Actually, that's not quite accurate- I sent one of those rather generic Make Poverty History emails to Melanie Johnson while I still lived in Welwyn Garden City and despite adding quite a lengthy portion to the end of my own devising, I received an equally generic letter in return.

I'm not emailing you to gripe about that, of course. The fact is, though, I have never written a letter of my own to any MP, and I tell you this only to highlight how important it is for me to have moved myself to do so.

It is a quarter past two in the morning, and I tell you this only to highlight how important this is to me. The US government demands of European travellers certain information and has done since 2004. Which was fine for me until August 10th this year when I went to Detroit. You may recognise the date- it was the big new terrorist alert and I had to walk through Heathrow dying of thirst and boredom, flashing everyone my sanitary towels in a charming see-through plastic bag. This I endured because if the price for humanity's safety is my humiliation, that's OK. I endured the two and a half hour (I think- no watch) wait on the plane on the tarmac while everyone's details were sent to the charmingly-titled Department of Homeland Security. Not that we were told what these details were.

In fact, I had no idea that Homeland Security was taking this information on a daily basis. I'm not an ostrich- I garner news from more than one source every day, even if the news is occasionally more trivial than this. I'm not unaware of American governmental procedure either- I've got myself a shiny BA in American Studies. And yet this entirely passed me by when it was introduced... which makes me wonder how much government on this side of the great pond is interested in protecting its people's rights. More of that later.

So, upon reading more on BBC News Online tonight (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5390074.stm)  I was thoroughly disheartened to learn that Homeland Insecurity would receive the kind of information about me that even money-lenders probably wouldn't bother asking for! Not just information on that flight, but anything else I might do beyond that- if I were getting another flight, if I were renting a car. I can only imagine they even had details of the birthday presents I'd bought for the friend I was going to see. I can only imagine the sighs of disapproval at Homeland Security as a Jeremy Clarkson book (a joke gift) appeared on their list. It's also just as well that I refrained from choosing a 'special' meal, because they would've known that too. Presumably, given that they also got given my credit card details, they would've seen my love of vintage clothes on eBay and very old movies on DVD. In fact, what would stop them using my credit card, I wonder? The pizzas, I can only imagine, are on me.

From what I can gather also, they want more information coming to them, not less. What is next? A full history of everywhere I've ever flown to? Every email address I've ever had? My top ten favourite motion pictures of all time? My personal opinion on Sen. Joe McCarthy?

I've gone into far more detail that you could possibly want or need. My point to you is this: You are my elected representative in our government: what if anything, is there that you are willing to do on my behalf? Not just my behalf but any other of your constituents wishing to travel to America? We already endure fingerprint scans, personal questions (I was asked for the entire history of my friendship at US Immigration in August. Hard to explain, but I tried.) and the rest when we actually get there... and then to learn they've taken all this information about us and the US would keep the information for fifty years if they got their way.

Do you know where I'll be in fifty years' time? Neither do I. I hope and pray to God that it's not in some V For Vendetta nightmare. The US Government, were I to take this up with them, would likely tell me that I'm not under the protection of the US Constitution (much talked about, not much seen these days) and therefore they don't care. Well, that's true, so I ask you this question:

What can be done to protect me and the rest of Britain and Europe from the tyranny of people in America who would destroy the very thing their forefathers fought to bring into reality?

Overdramatic, it's true... but it's rather frustrating to sit here reading these things, knowing also that the Senate has essentially voted to destroy both habeas corpus (never mind that it's in the very first section of their own Constitution) and reintroduce torture... and yet America seems to care more about the outcome of American Idol or Dancing With The Stars or whoever the Others are in Lost. We here in Britain are guilty of the same terrifying apathy, and so I have taken my first step out of it by contacting you.

I know you can't solve the riddle yourself, and I'd like to thank you most sincerely for your time, but I do ask: what can be done?

Other links of interest:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5029258.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5396018.stm

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/29/washington/29detain.html

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-EU-US-Passenger-Data.html

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/27/congress.terrorism.ap/index.html


And just in case I might one day mysteriously disappear: I'm a pacifist, really. Getting one's desires through violence is like building on sand- it is unstable and never lasts. Gandhi had it right, OK? I'll not use violence against any state. Why bother when a few  words can do the damage of fifty guns?
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