December 18, 2005

Enemy of the People

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You've probably heard by now that Bush signed authorizations for 45-day warrantless NSA wiretap sprees 30 times, and that as many as "thousands" of people have been listened in on. Bush has not only defended his unconstitutional invasion of privacy and assault on U.S. civil rights, but is assailing the media for being treasonous enough to actually report it.

"As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."
That's their stock response, that anyone who challenges them is putting the nation at risk. In the name of national security, they believe that we will easily allow the Bill of Rights to be torn to shreds. This is the reason why the "Patriot" Act needs to be trimmed where the freedoms of U.S. citizens are infringed--unless you prefer a nation where the government's claims of security always trump the rights and civil liberties of all Americans.

But Bush claims the wiretaps were "legitimate"--why? Because, they tell us, the powers will only be used against people with terrorist ties. Yeah. Right. That's what they said about the Homeland Security department, that it would only be used to fight terrorism. But when 51 Texas Democratic legislators fled Texas to Oklahoma in an attempt to stop an illegal GOP redistricting scheme, the GOP did not hesitate to use the Homeland Security Department to track the Democrats via an airplane some of them used. If a power exists, it will be abused. That's why such things are forbidden in the Constitution. Sure, we could stop a lot of crime if we just gave up certain civil liberties. But only those whose fear outstrips their desire for freedom and liberty would give up those rights for that cause.

Bush overstepped his bounds, clearly. The New York Times would be the hero--except that it actually withheld the information about Bush's illegal actions for a year--meaning that they had this info possibly just before the 2004 elections, but agreed to withhold it at Bush' request, handing him a huge political victory against the interests of the people of the U.S., and the media at large.

But I suppose that none of this is really new--either Bush's casually destructive disregard for American civil liberties, or the media's lap-dog cooperation with the administration's political goals. Or Bush's attempt to smear any bad news about him as treasonous to the country. Still, it is painful to know how far down we've sunk, not to mention the fact that despite the clear illegality of warrantless searches (Paul Cox details the law very well in his new blog), you know no one will push this beyond a minor PR setback for the administration--though one can always hope this will prove to be the exception.

Posted by Luis at December 18, 2005 01:11 AM

I'm a bit confused w/ this nsa wire tap thing. I thought that is one of the things that the patriot act did; which is peek in on people and if they don't see any terrorism (or murder, or rape, according to one article that I read), they leave them alone. And I don't see why this terrorism peek thing is a bad thing.

I guess the argument against the nsa cell phone thing is it is against the law. Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't. If it is, perhaps we need to expand the patriot act to include it (for terrorism peeks).

It seems like it is very easy for anyone to listen in on cell phones, since they are not scrambled and one can buy a box that picks up cell conversations.

Posted by: ykw at December 19, 2005 03:51 AM

How much like a fascist dictatorship do we have to become before we acknowledge the obvious.

Posted by: Tim Kane at December 19, 2005 04:59 AM

Hey Luis... I wondered how long it would take you to get to this. I guess you're busy catching up with family and such.

I'm blogging. I've hit this issue a few times; for those who're curious about the law (there is a law on this exact issue- the Bush Administration is simply ignoring it) they can hit up

Thanks for the plug, if you leave it in. :)

Seattle, WA

Posted by: Paul at December 19, 2005 07:41 AM

Thanks for the reference, Paul. The plug is more than welcome, and I turned it into a full-fledged link. Despite my broken foot, I'm kept more than a little busy with family, so I didn't have the chance to get everything filled in about the law involved, so I appreciate the link.

Posted by: Luis at December 19, 2005 01:06 PM