Hi 77 / Lo 55
|Volume 68, Issue 118,
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
When the Patriot Act was ratified, people cried foul, saying they had their civil liberties had been inadvertently sacrificed on the altar of defense against terrorism.
An American Civil Liberties Union challenge on those new laws was turned down by the Supreme Court on Monday. All the ACLU wanted to know was when the government should be allowed to monitor telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges to then use to prosecute a person.
Their refusal doesnit mark an official stance nor does it make any claims about the ACLUis argument. No doubt, the issue will return to the Supreme Court soon enough.
The government defends its use of wiretaps approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or "spy court," which deals with intelligence requests involving suspected spies, terrorists or foreign agents -- only the bad guys, of course. Typically, the United States has stuck with monitoring foreign spies.
Conspiracy theorists rant about the government listening in or following you around in a black helicopter. Typically, at least, the listening in <I>is<P> legal, according to the so-called "spy-court" which has said that government officials donit have to limit their monitoring to foreign agents. Talk about freedom.
It doesnit take an extremist to feel at least a little bit wary about these new rules that were born in the chaotic wake of 9/11. Without some legal guidelines, we give the government free power to do as they please.
Before people bring up 9/11 as the end-all, be-all reason for justifying anything, they should realize that weire not advocating total freedom. Defense is good, yes. But itis bad when itis used as an excuse to expunge oneis rights.
These broad and yet unchallenged powers are enough to make even the most patriotic citizens feel a little wary. Even the ones with "nothing to hide."
There was a premise to the Revolutionary War that had something to do with not being picked on by a big government. The same desire is in the hearts of Americans today, and that desire faces being trampled upon if post-9/11 spy laws remain in place unfettered.
With any power comes accountability, which at this point, the government simply doesnit have with regard to these tools designed to fight terrorism.
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