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The Fourth Amendment exists for a good reason

A side of blatherChristopher MullallyGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Just keeping one eye on a smattering of the happenings across the globe over the past few months, I have to say that we seem to be living in an extraordinary and rather precarious time. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, through murder, terror, and fraud, was re-elected; as the rest of Africa does nothing. A heart-breaking defeat for a people in desperate need of real hope. Iran is making headlines again they just tested about a dozen missiles (and photoshopped a few more) that have the capability of sending a 1 ton warhead to Israel. They also announced that they found a huge new oilfield. Bush, in turn, answered their call requesting to be invaded by supporting a strike on Iran via Israel, and is now suddenly concerned with troop withdrawal from Iraq I wonder where they could be headed next. Pakistan declares NIMBY (not in my back yard) regarding the American hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Jesse Jackson learns that you might want to double check that your microphone is off before fantasizing about castrating Barack Obama aloud on Fox News. More offshore drilling for oil in the U.S. is now okey-dokey. Remember the Exxon-Valdez? The $2.5 billion dollar settlement was just dropped to half a million. Iran again, still working hard to become a new coveted vacation getaway, you can get the death penalty for adultery, but now you can also get it for blogging. And they still dont have any homosexuals, according to its totally rational leader. Im still not sure why Travelocity hasnt jumped on that one. Bush tucked away a clause in a recently passed bill giving himself and his entire staff retroactive immunity for war crimes, but wait, he also pre-emptively pardoned himself as well. Guilty much? And on and on it goes on this interesting little blue marble of ours.I have watched with interest the gradual erosion of the constitution along with our civil liberties that so many have died to protect. We are now witnessing immunity for the telecoms to monitor you, the apparent death of habeas corpus, etc. But, didnt Bush swear to serve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States, or did I just hear him wrong when he was inaugurated? Of course, as always, there will be the vociferous fools trotting out trite clichs along the lines of, Well if youre not a terrorist/have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. As if anything is that simple. Benjamin Franklin would argue, Those who can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. All of this brings me to FISA.FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed in 1978 and just recently amended this year. No more warrants are needed to tap international calls, but that isnt the most worrisome bit in the newly amended FISA. The Attorney General and Director for National Intelligence can now sign off on authorizations of surveillance programs. The problem is that there does not seem to be any limit to how large any one authorization may be. It could be, for example, an interception of all traffic going through AT&Ts New York facility, not just one phone call. So long, Fourth Amendment. No judges, no warrants, not anymore. This FISA amendment also granted, as previously mentioned, retroactive immunity to the telecom industries who were violating the Fourth Amendment since 9/11. Before you start thinking Im a raving left-winger, Barack Obama had promised to filibuster any bill that gave that immunity. Instead, he voted for it. Essentially, we just gave away the only chance of finding out how much our government was spying on its citizens illegally. So then, everyone with nothing to hide who doesnt see any issue with this and trusts its government intrinsically, how might this affect you? Well, this would allow the government to potentially intimidate any member of congress by the executive branch knowing all the private affairs of each and every person, let alone members of congress. There doesnt necessarily have to be any criminality involved in the information garnered, just enough info so that whoever the target is will want to stay the line for fear of their secrets coming out. All of this sounds to me like the beginning of an autocracy, which is precisely what the Constitution was meant to prevent. I encourage you to research this a bit on your own, it makes for a fascinating read, and to all of those who consider this as leftist spin, there were Republicans in Congress who opposed this bill for the very reasons illustrated above. Its a Fourth Amendment issue, not a partisan one, and it affects each and every one of us.Christopher Mullally writes for The Post Independent and The Valley Journal and can be reached at: christophermullally@gmail.com.


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