Sunday, June 22, 2008

Inveterate Invertebrates

A week ago I mentioned the uproar taking place in Great Britain over a new law that allows a person to be held 42 days without charges. Of course, I haven't seen it mentioned in the news here. And I wondered what it would take for a politician here to show some spine when our civil liberties are under attack. Well, we have our answer. The House just passed a bill that gives immunity to telecom companies who broke the law at the president's request because he says it was necessary to fight terrorism. The law in question is the one that says the administration has to get a warrant to monitor communications of anyone within the U.S. Heck, they can even wait 72 hours after they start monitoring before they get the warrant. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides a semblance of judicial oversight for this. I say semblance because the record shows that the FISA judges rarely disapproved a warrant. But rather than follow the law, President Bush directed that it be ignored and asked the telecommunication companies to go along. So not only is he getting a free ride, since most members of Congress subscribe to the "protect America from terrorism at all costs because my career will tank if a city goes up in flames on my watch" mindset, but the telecom companies are excused as well. The bill now goes to the Senate and none other than "The Country Wants a Change" Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is not against it. He, along with many other Democrats, are pretty much agreeing that Bush broke the law and warning him that he better not do it again or else. Or else...I don't know, something.

So why is it important that the government not be able to monitor my phone and my email without a warrant? I don't have anything to hide so what's the harm? For one answer I direct you to an essay written by Daniel J. Solove called 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy.

But here is the important question people are not asking. Why have laws if the president can violate them at will?

No comments: