Friday, June 22, 2012

Congress mulling bill to extend warrantless wiretapping

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978 and it laid out the rules by which the government could spy on citizens it thought were involved in acts of espionage against the US government. The original bill dealt with people who were spying on behalf of another government.

Following the 9/11 attacks, President Bush, with the assistance of a bunch of weak-willed Democratic congressmen, signed the USA Patriot Act which expanded FISA's coverage to individuals alleged to be working for terrorist groups not associated with another government.

But enough of the history of the erosion of our right to privacy. Since no one raised a stink then, your expectation of privacy in your conversations has been greatly reduced - almost to the point of being non-existent.

In both the Senate and the House, the Judiciary committees have approved a bill extending the amendments to FISA until 2017. The House committee voted along party lines while the Senate committee approved the bill overwhelmingly. The bill now goes before both houses.

The bill will allow los federales to continue to intercept all telephone conversations, e-mail correspondence and other digital communications between two or more people suspected of being involved in terrorism - even if one of the parties happens to be an American citizen.

How interesting that the Republicans, the so-called champions of limited government, are behind this expansion of governmental power whole-hog. Who the hell needs a warrant to gather all the digital information they can store despite that pesky little Fourth Amendment thingamobob?

Come on, tea baggers, explain how you can go out into the streets yelling and screaming that President Obama is enslaving the American people by requiring them to purchase health insurance, but you are more than happy to let the government intercept our fellow citizens' telephone conversations without so much as a warrant. We mustn't allow the government to regulate industry or pass laws to reduce pollution because that's just so un-American - but it's alright to ignore the plain meaning of the Constitution just because someone with a badge says someone else is up to no good.

Of course that's just details, I'm sure. We certainly can't expect anyone to have an intellectually consistent (not to mention "honest") position when it comes to the leash on government power.

In the meantime, just be secure in your knowledge that, slowly but surely, as sure as the day is long, your reasonable expectation of privacy in anything in anyplace at any time will disappear as if it never existed. You wanted security at the expense of freedom. You've made your bed, now sleep in it.

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