Taking Liberties – Spying On Us

By: Rowan Wolf of Uncommon Thought Journal

Over the last six years we have become very accustomed to the loss of our Constitutional protections and civil liberties. So there seems little reaction when we find out that both the Pentagon and the CIA are spying inside the United States. It is somehow comforting to know that the ACLU is putting up a fuss. The U.S. corporate media doesn’t seem alarmed.

It is disturbing that Radio New Zealand announces “US govt admits military spying role inside own country.” It sounds stark and unexpected. Something doesn’t seem to “work” with that statement.

I suppose we are to feel comforted by Cheney saying that the Pentagon program is not illegal. But somehow I think that “Spying program targeting individuals is inappropriate for CIA, Pentagon” rather understates the issue. Don’t you?

Then we have the warrantless spying from the NSA which was approved by Bush. Despite complaints and concerns, Bush has refused to stop the programs. Now he graciously will allow the FISA court to monitor the program. That might sound like a conciliatory move, but “allowing” the court oversight of an illegal program hardly addresses the issue. Does it?

In reading news reports and transcripts, it seems that most people are assuming that something has changed, and that Bush will no longer engage in warrantless surveillance. However, that does not seem clear from what I read in the memo Gonzales sent to the committee (page 1, page 2).

Attorney General Gonzales, says that he found “a judge” on the FISA court who agreed to authorize the warrantless surveillance. What about the others?

The FISA Court (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act created the court) is now comprised of eleven justices selected by the Chief Justice (Roberts) to serve terms of 7 years (Wikipedia).

So, out of eleven judges, Gonzales found ONE to “authorize” warrantless surveillance not just of “foreign intelligence” agent, but of U.S. citizens. Does that make it legal? Does “letting” the court “monitor” the program mean that one judge? Does monitoring mean they can stop it if it goes over the line? How does this address any of the issues?

I find it difficult to believe that one judge out of eleven can make a decision on a program that violates numerous laws, and with a wave of the magical swizzle stick all problem “disappear.”

There is a chilling analysis by Robert Perry of Gonzales response to a question by Arlen Specter regarding habeas corpus protections. Gonzales essentially argued that the Constitution does not guarantee habeas corpus rights – it just bars removing those rights. Perry notes that many rights are defined in the negative in the Constitution – the First Amendment for example. Under the reasoning that Gonzales puts forwards, such “rights” quite simply do not exist unless specifically granted. If those laws do not exist, then neither do the protections. This reasoning actually explains a lot of the conflict with this administration over rights and Constitutional protections.

When one combines such a perspective of the Constitution with the administration’s embracing the concept of “Unitary Executive,” one has to wonder exactly what their view is on “democracy” and of the “freedoms” we think we have in the United States.

We also have the Pentagon and the CIA collecting data and running “intelligence” programs inside the United States on U.S. citizens – clearly outside the purview of these organizations, and we are told (again) “it’s legal” by the administration. Well that must make it so.

I hear a sucking sound as the world we thought we knew goes down the drain.

Published in: on 01/19/2007 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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