Is this how we keep our freedoms?

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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

Victims of the Darkness: Government Surveillance and Intimidation
December 19, 2005

by John W. Whitehead

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such a twilight that we must be aware of the change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
--Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Not since the notorious McCarthy era of the 1950s, when American freedoms faced extinction, has there been such an attack against the Bill of Rights. The recent media focus on President Bush's authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on ordinary Americans has brought this issue to the forefront. On secret orders from President Bush, the NSA has been monitoring the international phone calls and emails of Americans without warrants.

Moreover, the Bush Administration has consistently harassed citizens who exercise their First Amendment freedoms and voice concerns about government policies. The main weapon used in this war is intimidation, specifically through governmental surveillance and government agents.

Indeed, the American government has a near paranoia about dissenting citizens. "The Administration and campaign of George W. Bush," writes former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), "is squelching any possible hint of disagreement or protest at every political rally or gathering." For example, in March of this year, three citizens were removed from President Bush's town hall meeting in Aurora, Colo., because the car they arrived in featured the bumper sticker, "No More Blood for Oil."

This past summer, FBI agents went to Windsor, Conn., with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one"”ever"”what it said. The letter, which was on FBI stationery, directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away.

Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software Christian operates said their databases can reveal the websites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow. Christian refused to hand over the records, and his employer, Library Connection, Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public.

This case affords a rare glimpse of an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under some of the heinous provisions of the USA Patriot Act. National security letters, such as the one issued to George Christian, were created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations.

They were originally intended as narrow exceptions in consumer privacy law, enabling the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. However, the Patriot Act and Bush Administration guidelines for its use have transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

"The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year," writes Barton Gellman in The Washington Post, "a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters"”one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people"”are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans." Indeed, according to a previously classified document released recently, the FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight.

Thus, the government does not limit its attacks to actual terrorists. Ordinary American citizens are the focus as well. Take the case of Selena Jarvis, a social studies teacher at Currituck County High School in North Carolina. She assigned her senior civics and economics class to use photographs to illustrate their freedoms as found in the Bill of Rights. One student photographed a picture of George W. Bush next to his own hand in a thumbs-down position as a way to express his freedom to dissent.

However, while developing the student's photographs, a Wal-Mart photo department employee, in obvious need of some education on the Bill of Rights, called the police. They then contacted the Secret Service. But rather than dismissing the case, the Secret Service decided to investigate the matter. The agents interrogated the student and questioned Jarvis.. While questioning Jarvis, an agent asked her if she thought the photo was suspicious. Dumbfounded, Jarvis responded, "No, it was a Bill of Rights project!" Jarvis was startled at the claim that the student was a terrorist and called the whole thing "ridiculous."

Why would the Secret Service, which is not run by incompetent individuals, take the time to investigate a high school student and his class project? It is safe to assume that the Secret Service knew the student was not a terrorist and wanted to make an example of him for others who might be bold enough to use their right to dissent. After the ordeal, Selena Jarvis commented, "I blame Wal-Mart more than anybody. I was really disgusted with them. But everyone was using poor judgment, from Wal-Mart up to the Secret Service."

Unfortunately, this is not the only "ridiculous" case of individuals tattling on their neighbors. For example, Barry Reingold was questioned by the FBI after he criticized the war in Afghanistan in the locker room of his local health club. In another case, Derek Kjar's neighbors reported his bumper sticker of George Bush wearing a crown with the heading "KING GEORGE"”OFF WITH HIS HEAD." As a result, Kjar was interrogated by the Secret Service. In both instances, close contacts of the two men reported them to the authorities.

And as if things weren't bad enough, the military is now spying on us. A secret database obtained by NBC News recently reveals that the Department of Defense and the Pentagon have also increased intelligence collection on American citizens inside the country. This includes monitoring peaceful anti-war groups and protests and involves video taping, monitoring the Internet and collecting the name of anyone critical of the government.

There is even a toll-free number for anyone interested to report on fellow Americans to the military. And the spying even includes religious groups such as those attending the Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Florida. "On a domestic level, this is unprecedented," says NBC News analyst William Arkin. "I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military."

Since 9/11, it has been consistently drummed into our heads by the government, with all its alerts and multi-colored alarms, that terrorists are everywhere and even your next door neighbor could be one. As a result, the government's promotion of fear and paranoia has moved us closer to an Orwellian state where citizens inform on one another. The result is that the citizens often do the job of the police and no longer use good judgment before reporting their neighbors. In the process, such informing citizens are doing away with their own freedoms.

These tactics are not new to the world. The Nazi and Soviet secret police of former regimes were infamous for such tactics. The police controlled the people through fear, and the subsequent result was a totalitarian state. They turned their respective population into a society of informers.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning author and former Soviet dissident, once spoke of how fear destroys the will of the people. He noted how the Russian people would kneel inside the doors of their apartments, pressing their ears to listen when the KGB came at midnight to arrest a neighbor who had spoken out against the government. Solzhenitsyn said that if all the people would have come out and driven off the secret police, sheer public opinion would have demoralized the effort to subdue a free people. But fear and paranoia kept the people at bay.

We should not be afraid of government agents, whether employed by the FBI, the military or local authorities. Their salaries are paid through our tax dollars. Supposedly, they are our servants. Truly free societies do not function that way. Our fear of government servants is a clear indication of ominous things to come. If citizens are too frightened to use their freedoms, then those freedoms will become extinct. And the darkness will be complete.

----

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Rutherford Institute 1440 Sachem Place Charlottesville, VA 22901 Phone: 434-978-3888/ FAX: 434- 978-1789/ website:http://www.rutherford.org

woodcanoe
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Re: Is this how we keep our freedoms?

[quote="tanguay42"]Victims of the Darkness: Government Surveillance and Intimidation
December 19, 2005

by John W. Whitehead

We should not be afraid of government agents, whether employed by the FBI, the military or local authorities. Their salaries are paid through our tax dollars. Supposedly, they are our servants. Truly free societies do not function that way. Our fear of government servants is a clear indication of ominous things to come. If citizens are too frightened to use their freedoms, then those freedoms will become extinct. And the darkness will be complete.

[/quote]

I am afraid of my government, whether it be republican of democrat. Those who ascend to power gain it by trodding on others, lying and misdirection and twisted truths. This kind of politics has led us to where we are bitterly divided, more partisan than I have seen in nearly 60 years.

I cannot believe that many AMGers, conservative to the core, believe that G Bush and the FBI should have the capacity to conduct warrantless searches. This is such an unamerican idea in my book.

Would you have trusted Bubba with this power, he who sicced the IRS on the NRA? Did you like what your government did to 80+ men, women and children in Waco? Did you like the government murder of Vicki Weaver? How can you believe in these folks?

In todays news is the story that states "warrants can be granted by a judge in minutes if necessary". Are they too lazy to take a few moments and get a warrant to make the wiretap legal? Why?

The only protection we have is the Bill of Rights and you want to give up some of that?

Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel wrote a piece in 1989 in which he said: "If you send the govrnment after your enemy sooner or later he will come after you!"

Cigarsmoker
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

I for one, have no problem with the government intercepting phone calls to or from known terrorists and/or terrorist sympathizers. Both sides of this issue have been very clear that this is what is happening. So, when the next terrorist act occurs on our soil, look to this partisan issue as a cause. Do not be fooled, this was timed to coincide with the cloture vote on the Patriot Act. This was partisan politics on the part of the Times, in order to influence that cloture vote, and to sell books by the author of the piece, which was published by the parent company of the Times. You can be all smug about being afraid of your government, but I am also much more afraid of terrorists. and actions which limit our government from protecting us.

Frostman
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

[b][i]Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.[/i][/b]
Ben Franklin

As I stated in a prior thread, Ben seems to be talking directly to those defending the treasonous actions of our president.

Gaffer
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

It was my understanding that this policy and the evesdropping started under the Clinton Aministration when it was first approved.

charlotte
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

I agree with Ben Frostman...

Bad idea...

Thomas O
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

My take is that the Bush administration and all the agencies had an unprecedented challenge dropped in their laps on 9-11.
They are doing their best to try and neutralize, or at least mitigate further attacks.
That said, caution must be exercised to avoid the more long term threat of greater governmental powers, and the gradual acceptance of them by citizens.
I find it a bit odd that some will readily quote the Founding Fathers when it suits them, but then have no problem with some of the very dangers that those very same men warned us about. A truly free republic. That's what THEY fought for.
I do not see a Bush cabal here, and I know there have been 'black ops' for a long time, but down the road all of the little chips may fall into place and become a jackpot for a charismatic, power hungry leader.
You and I may not live to see it, but our children or theirs might.
As to fighting the terrorist threat, by all means use any means, as long as it does not undermine the Separation of Powers and the very laws which make this country the model for freedom.
The current non-story is an overblown political ploy, but the next one might not be.
I will no doubt be considered a fence-sitter, by seeing merit in both arguments.
That often doesn't play, or play well, on this board.
C'est la vie.

landry
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The only thing wrong about being a fence sitter is that after a while it starts to get uncomfortable. I will say as I have said before; I fear my government,republican or democrat more than I fear any terrorist, foreign or domestic. I remember the day when this was not true, but I believe those days are gone forever unless the American people wake up and take their government back. That looks unlikely.
Bud

Apollo
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During the 1990s, President Bill Clinton ordered the National Security Agency to use its super-secret Echelon surveillance program to monitor the personal telephone calls and private email of employees who worked for foreign companies in a bid to boost U.S. trade, NewsMax.com has learned.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/12/19/114807.shtml

It must have been ok since Clinton did it, right Frostman?

Pedro
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

Speaking, for example, of intercepted communications between people with possible al qaeda connections and U.S. citizens, no one can seriously doubt that somewhere in that thicket of intercepted calls, there is likely some information that will prove useful in our war on terror.

The main objection is based on the fear that government may build dossiers on citizens as a prerequisite to establishing a future dictatorship. Given the general incompetence of all bureaucracies, the constitutional separation of federal powers and the resources of hundreds of watchdog groups, is a dictatorship possible?

We are right to be jealous of our liberties and suspicious of secret operations of our government, but can we be absolutists in this? Can we afford to forego the collection of information that may save lives, even if it may on occasion threaten our privacy? Are we, as a free and open society, powerless to protect ourselves from this new enemy? If they have done nothing else, the ACLU has shown us how our laws can be used against us.

Bud, hasn't the world changed?

Frostman
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[quote="Apollo"]During the 1990s, President Bill Clinton ordered the National Security Agency to use its super-secret Echelon surveillance program to monitor the personal telephone calls and private email of employees who worked for foreign companies in a bid to boost U.S. trade, NewsMax.com has learned.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/12/19/114807.shtml

It must have been ok since Clinton did it, right Frostman?[/quote]

No. It's not. In my mind, if this is accurate, Clinton is equally condemnable.

There’s a reason the federal and state governments need to get court approved warrants. Or did you miss that in Government 101?

Roger S
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[quote="Thomas O"]I find it a bit odd that some will readily quote the Founding Fathers when it suits them, but then have no problem with some of the very dangers that those very same men warned us about. [/quote]

Always happy to oblige, here's Hamilton arguing that the President has a broad set of Executive Powers beyond the limits specified in the Constitution:

''The second article of the Constitution of the United States, section first, establishes this general proposition, that 'the Executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.' The same article, in a succeeding section, proceeds to delineate particular cases of executive power. It declares, among other things, that the president shall be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; that he shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, to make treaties; that it shall be his duty to receive ambassadors and other public ministers, and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. It would not consist with the rules of sound construction, to consider this enumeration of particular authorities as derogating from the more comprehensive grant in the general clause, further than as it may be coupled with express restrictions or limitations; as in regard to the co-operation of the senate in the appointment of officers, and the making of treaties; which are plainly qualifications of the general executive powers of appointing officers and making treaties.

''The difficulty of a complete enumeration of all the cases of executive authority, would naturally dictate the use of general terms, and would render it improbable that a specification of certain particulars was designed as a substitute for those terms, when antecedently used. The different mode of expression employed in the constitution, in regard to the two powers, the legislative and the executive, serves to confirm this inference. In the article which gives the legislative powers of the government, the expressions are, 'All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a congress of the United States.' In that which grants the executive power, the expressions are, 'The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States.' The enumeration ought therefore to be considered, as intended merely to specify the principal articles implied in the definition of executive power; leaving the rest to flow from the general grant of that power, interpreted in conformity with other parts of the Constitution, and with the principles of free government. The general doctrine of our Constitution then is, that the executive power of the nation is vested in the President; subject only to the exceptions and qualifications, which are expressed in the instrument.''

Anonymous
Is this how we keep our freedoms?

"The general doctrine of our Constitution then is, that the executive power of the nation is vested in the President; subject only to the exceptions and qualifications, which are expressed in the instrument.''[/quote]

Would it be safe to believe that the "executive powers" and the power to "make treaties" are to be in conformance to the Constitution? If not, why could he not declare by executive power that we be suddenly changed to a "dictatorship"?

JIMV
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Re: Is this how we keep our freedoms?

[quote]Not since the notorious McCarthy era of the 1950s, when American freedoms faced extinction, has there been such an attack against the Bill of Rights. The recent media focus on President Bush’s authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on ordinary Americans has brought this issue to the forefront. On secret orders from President Bush, the NSA has been monitoring the international phone calls and emails of Americans without warrants.[/quote]

Now this is either silly or disingenuous....have we forgotten the 900 FBI files in the last administration? How about the use of the IRS in harrassing conservative think tanks and anyone who raised a charge against the Clintons. Then there is the little matter of Waco and all those dead kids. What of the jack Booted thugs who grabbed Elian to make sure the family did not get their day in appeals court?

Good heavens, the only administration ever to actually use thugs against a lot of american citizens was the previous administration.

[quote]Moreover, the Bush Administration has consistently harassed citizens who exercise their First Amendment freedoms and voice concerns about government policies. The main weapon used in this war is intimidation, specifically through governmental surveillance and government agents.[/quote]

Again BS, the old media has spent 5 years carrying the democrats water. Not much intimidation there.

[quote]Indeed, the American government has a near paranoia about dissenting citizens. “The Administration and campaign of George W. Bush,” writes former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), “is squelching any possible hint of disagreement or protest at every political rally or gathering.” For example, in March of this year, three citizens were removed from President Bush’s town hall meeting in Aurora, Colo., because the car they arrived in featured the bumper sticker, “No More Blood for Oil.”[/quote]

Not exactly, we simply differentiate between dissent citizens and violent radicals.

[quote]This past summer, FBI agents went to Windsor, Conn., with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one—ever—what it said. The letter, which was on FBI stationery, directed Christian to surrender “all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person” who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away.

Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software Christian operates said their databases can reveal the websites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow. Christian refused to hand over the records, and his employer, Library Connection, Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public.[/quote]

Not much intimidation or silence here as I am reading about the case.

[quote]And as if things weren’t bad enough, the military is now spying on us. A secret database obtained by NBC News recently reveals that the Department of Defense and the Pentagon have also increased intelligence collection on American citizens inside the country. This includes monitoring peaceful anti-war groups and protests and involves video taping, monitoring the Internet and collecting the name of anyone critical of the government.[/quote]

As anti-war protestors in a time of war are committing sedition, keeping track of their activities seems reasonable to me.

I do agree that the government is not our friend. It is why I fail to understand why the left can with one voice whine about abuses and on the other hand demand an ever increasing government full of regulations, rules, and bureaucrats.

I fear those folk a lot more than I do the FBI.

JIMV
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Re: Is this how we keep our freedoms?

[quote]In todays news is the story that states "warrants can be granted by a judge in minutes if necessary". Are they too lazy to take a few moments and get a warrant to make the wiretap legal? Why?[/quote]

Or so the left would have you believe. I read that the paperwork needed to get before that judge, who may very well rule in minutes, takes days to put together.

thejohnchapman
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

U.S. Constitution: Tenth Amendment
Tenth Amendment - Reserved Powers

Amendment Text | Annotations
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people

U.S. Constitution: Ninth Amendment
Ninth Amendment - Unenumerated Rights

Amendment Text | Annotations
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Ninth and Tenth make the "unstated powers" argument quite difficult. They have to be lesser included powers, like the war power including the right to authorize military action less than war. However, it isn't about POWER as much as it is about RIGHT. It has always been within the CIC and Exec power to find the badguys. The real issue is the legality of the methods.

JIMV
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Any process that involves reautherization every few months, 12 different congressional briefings, and post event court reviews is a process well within the limits of the constitution.

The only issue here is who leaked the program and how many years will he get for the treason.

Slingblade
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"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." Thomas Jefferson

woodcanoe
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

In my mind there are two issues here. First is whether or not the President, or anyone else for that matter, should have the power to condone surveillence without a proper warrant as clearly required by law and the constitution.

The second, and entirely seperate matter, is how this came to light. The NYT, and author Risen were undoubtedly carrying out another crass(not class) act in the lines of that for which they seem to have become famous. I cannot condone "orchestrating" the news for financial gain no matter who does it. That they have lost their credibility is undeniable. That they seemingly care not a bit about it, despite losing circulation over time, is astounding. You would think that by now even an idiot would have figured out that this kind of stuff costs readership! Not the NYT though!

But we must return to the truly important question. Should the President, or any other bureaucrat, have the authority to conduct warrantless surveillence? I think that we have far more to lose than gain by accepting this. It seems that many who accept this as OK condemned Clinton for most of his abuses but feel that George can do no wrong. Pardon me but does it really make a difference in the amount of trust we are willing to give to someone......which party he might be a member of? It seems to be so for a lot of people. If a lot of us are suddenly willing to give the authority for warrantless searches to GW yet would not have given it to Bubba maybe we should rethink our position a little more. I did not trust William C, I do not trust George and I should not have to trust any president to this extent ever. The possibilities for abuse are many and sooner or later will surely happen. I have nothing against George B but feel this practice should be condemned no matter who inhabits the oval office.

It would certainly be interesting to find out exactly who this surveillance had been used against. But we surely never will. We are told they are "terrorists" so just sit down and shut up. We are doing it for the "public good". BS. I bet we would be surprised if we were to find out just who these "terrorists" really were.

If George Bush does not abuse this power sooner or later someone will. I feel it is a very bad precedent to set. And once we cross over that line there will be no going back.

If we are going to stand for anything it must be for freedom. In my estimation, we diminish ourselves in the eyes of the rest of the world, when we condone the tactics of the average bannana republic. John McCain is right when he says that America should not resort to torture to make a case. Neither should we resort to unconstitutional methods of spying on Americans either.

In MHO we have far more to lose by trusting anyone in the White House with these kinds of powers than we do from all the terrorists on earth. We have proven over and over that we have the military means to flatten any opposition. We have the special courts set up to handle the authorization of these kinds of warrants, in just minutes in an emergency case so what are they afraid of?

The best way to have prevented this, and acts in the future, would be not to let our enemies into this nation in the first place. We know what our enemy looks like so why do we let him move into our neighborhood? Our borders are some of the most porous of any on earth. Half of the US is turning into Mexico and no one in the government cares enough to do anything about it. Pogo says: "We have met the enemy and he is us". Absolutely.

I have always been afraid of, and will continue to be afraid of, those in law enforcement and government who, even though the may have ample evidence of criminal intent seem to think that they must "cook this evidence" in some fashion, so they can really make the case. What is wrong with trying to do this the right way?

I am glad that G W is in the white house rather than slick willy or John K. That being said however, I do not feel we need to appoint him king and vest him with the powers of the average dictator.

Why is George Bush to be trusted with this and not Bill Clinton? What makes the difference? Is there something about 9/11 that suddenly makes it OK to use these heretofore unacceptable methods?

I do not believe that fighting the "cause of terrorism" means that we should be willing to surrender the "cause of liberty".

To paraphrase an earlier quote in this thread: "A fool and his freedom are soon parted".

Kris Watson
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Call me a fool. but They can tap my phone 'til they're blue in the face. I can't see where they would gain or I would lose. That said, I do understand people not wanting to lose that privacy. Many people fear the government far more than I. My biggest fear of government comes in the form of imposing new taxes and fees, and new laws and regulations that infringe on our Constitutionally guarnteed rights.

JHR
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Pres. Clinton exercised his power to intercept messages in a program called "Echelon" where millions of messages, including e-mail, were intercepted. However, these phone and e-mail interceptions were made on international calls, and not domestic calls. And those whose messages were intercepted were related to terrorist organizations.

How many of these people are/were U.S. Citizens? or are/were they resident aliens?

knucklehead
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

I am as concerned about large institutions ignoring our liberties as the next person. I think we should each start with our local public school systems, which teach institutional thinking and supress free thinking and independent action in favor of very, very socialist ideals.

Much of my thinking about the Patriot Act and liberty revolves around concern for what abuses may occur at the hands of administrations in the future, [i]post[/i] War on Terror. Two very recent and quite related facts that need to be illuminated are the misuse of the RICO Act against Pro-Life protesters and directing the IRS in a manner that harrassed and destroyed political foes.

What we need is calm, cool-headed debate, not political rhetoric. If anyone is truly concerned about liberty, then they will immediately call for the full, unedited publication of the [url=http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york200511181743.asp]Barrett Report[/url]

Here's a couple factoids about what's causing the recent chest beating by our apparent "saviors" who desperately want to protect our liberty by maximizing their face time on the boob tube. Rich Galen is one of the regular talking heads that shows up to debate issues on the cable news channels. He writes short, funny articles several times per week on his web site. He was debating Paul Begala on CNN Friday, then Bob Beckelon Fox Saturday. He offers the following points.

Mullings by Rich Galen®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
A Most Courteous War
Monday December 19, 2005

# First of all, the National Security Agency (NSA) was authorized to intercept communications between the US and foreign locations only. They are still not allowed to tap domestic communications without a court order.

# Second, this has not been an operation carried out in a vacuum. The top Republicans AND the top Democrats on both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were informed of this activity right after 9/11 and, as those positions have been taken by new people, the new Representatives and Senators have likewise been brought into the loop.

# This minor fact - that the appropriate Members of Congress have been kept fully informed - has been either buried in the 27th graf or ignored completely by the Popular Press.

# Third, there are strict limits on whom the NSA can wiretap - it affects about 500 people at a time (out of 300 MILLION people living in the US) and the order has been reviewed - according to the President - about every 45 days to ensure it is not being misused.

# Fourth, and this is important, there has not been a successful attack against Americans on US soil since this order went into effect.

# I said to Mr. Beckel that the last time anyone thought that a "Gentlemanly War" was a good idea was somewhere around the time of the American Revolution. That didn't, as we have learned since second grade, work out all that well for the Redcoats.

This site is updated several times per week, so the referenced article, [url=http://mullings.com/]A Most Courteous War[/url], will soon be bounced into the archives at the bottom of the home page.

landry
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

President Teddy Roosevelt in an editorial he wrote for the "Kansas Star" during WW1; "The president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the same degree which is waranted by his good conduct or his bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency rendering loyal, able and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts,and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there no must be no criticism of the president , or that we are to stand by the president , right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant about him or any one else."

The president did tell select people in congress of his secret wire taps but this does not make law nor amend the fourth amendment of the Constitution. The congressmen that were told about these secret wire taps are equally as to blame as the president himself. Every dictatorship known to man started when the would be dictator told the people that he was working for their safety and well being while he reinforced his power. The only answer to this is the truth and to follow the Constitution of the United States and the laws made under our Constitution. These wire taps were not our regular wire taps. These were done with large antenna that picked up millions of innocent conversations from satelites and filtered to pick out the ones they wanted. We will never know just what they picked up or what they have done with it. To believe they picked up only tererrorists conversations borders on rediculous.
Bud

JIMV
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

We are all writing wonderfully about a legal situation of which we know next to nothing. There are a variety of legislative acts that might apply here, there are even more legal opinions that apply and there are the powers of the president himself in the Constitution that probably allows this.

My biggest problem with this issue is the readiness of those in politics who know even less than I, to pontificate as though their words have legal standing.

Read this on the issue:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007703

Unless you can cite chapter and verse of the many, many legal decisions on this subject, have a detailed knowledge of past practice, and can make a legal case, for heavens sake, politicians one and all, SHUT UP.

You sound like idiots.

Karen Brown
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

I may sound like an idiot and I do not know legal precedents but I do know if we lose our rights and freedoms due to the war on terrorism, the terrorists have already won.
Karen

charlotte
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

Karen...well said! Simple and true.

Frostman
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

Karen, you've summarized in one sentence what most here fail to grasp.

Well done.

JIMV
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

[quote="Karen Brown"]I may sound like an idiot and I do not know legal precedents but I do know if we lose our rights and freedoms due to the war on terrorism, the terrorists have already won.
Karen[/quote]

Just exactly what 'rights' of 'freedoms' are now uniquely in jeopardy?

We had J Edgar Hoover keeping records on a host of enemies

We had Roosevelt interning citizens, stealing their property, opening and censoring the mail, etc

Lincoln suspended habeus corpus and arrested and jailed journalists or anyone else who came to his attention criticizing the war.

Nixon used 1 FBI file illegally and covered up the burglary of his political enemies

Clinton used NSA resource to spy on US citizens in the USA, used the IRS to audit his political enemies, and Justice dept to cover up scandals

Reagan had an illegal operation trading guns for hostages happen on his watch

Carter was simply an idiot.

Now we have Bush...he acted to monitor foreign calls from potential terrorists. He used authority previously used by at least two other democrat presidents. He advised congress and ran the record of such intercepts past justice rountinely. In addition, there are MANY legal opinions on this issue that support this issue.

In the scheme of things, our 'loss of rights and freedoms' is infinietly less today than in previous administrations.

In fact, we have a far greater loss of freedom through eminent domain abuse, gun grabs, Kelo, takings and regulations than we have ever had under this president.

This criticism, as in almost all criticism of the administration, is all about democrats NOT being in power, and little else.

mediadog
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

I think that some folks here must realize that we are in a war against a furtive and determined enemy. The events of 9/11/01 should have taught us that.

The president is our commander-in-chief and the person who knows best the threats that confront us. It's the president, not some unelected and uninformed judge, who should be making decisions that involve the defense of the nation. If the public believes the president has erred, it has to option of voting for somebody else the next time around. If a judge errs and rules against the president's action, the nation could suffer enormous casualties. The next 9/11 could result in a mushroom clouds over major cities.

The 'spying" that has approved by the president is conducted by NSA computers which use algorithms to search for certain words, or combinations of words, to locate suspicious messages sent aboard from this country. It isn't like somebody sitting somewhere enjoying people's personal phone calls. NSA has vast capability for recognizing those who live in this country but want to harm it.

The complaints about this so-called domestic spying are, in reverse order, silly, naive, political and dangerous. We have in authority, and even here on AMG, people who would like to turn back the clock to 9/10/01. The responsibility for any disastrous repeat of 9/11 will fall directly on them.

knucklehead
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

Note to all the self styled wild hearted rebels and paper patriots here on AMG: Your freedom is inextricably linked to personal responsibility. I find it quite humorous that certain of you are figureatively running around bumping into each other, expressively espousing deep concern for our Constitutional rights, while at the same time pushing endless and increasing cradle-to-grave nannyism via goverment programs.

I'm also very entertained by the familiar and comical reaction of those on this thread who thrust their noses in the air and declare everyone who does not march lockstep with their opinions as somehow incapable of grasping the deep ideas here. It is a typical dodge when either presented with facts or asked to provide specifics about their concerns with an issue that is only political in value to them, and in fact they possess very shallow understanding about themselves.

Dave in NY
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Is this how we keep our freedoms?

My related question -

What do all the Libs talk or e-mail about that they live in such a tizzied fear that "someone" may see or hear it??? It's not like private citizens are being rounded up or prosecuted for ancillary crimes in conjunction with necessary and apparently effective anti-terrorism efforts (at least in my knowledge).

If you're not doing anything "terroristic", you've got nothing to fear. This stuff is starting to reach the levels of lunacy that leads to, for example, Judges letting confessed murderers "off the hook" because a Police Department can't prove they read him/her their Miranda rights.

I just don't get it.

Edited for typo

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