Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I do not give permission

I hereby do not express consent to the NSA eavesdropping on any telephonic, Internet or other electronic forms of communications I may have -- whether I initiate or am on the receiving end of the communication -- with any person or persons the government has reasonable basis to conclude is a member of al Qaeda, affiliated with al Qaeda or a member of an organization affiliated with al Qaeda.

This may seem like a shocking step to you, but I have no contact with al Qaeda, so the situation does not arise. David Limbaugh's similar declaration at the beginning of his latest article, in which he gives permission to the NSA to spy on him if he is talking with al Qaeda, is similarly pointless.

Unfortunately as a a private citizens I may not be the best person to make the call of whether or not I should be eavesdropped upon. For one thing, if I were in contact with al-Qaeda, you wouldn't expect me to admit it.

So who decides? Well in the 1960s and 1970s the power to wiretap was used for political purposes. Nixon used it to spy on political enemies, and J. Edger Hoover used it to spy on people he just didn't like. So they set up a board for judges to approve wiretaps. Sensible, right? We are going to need to wiretap criminals and spies and terrorists, no doubt about that. So we need a system that lets us do that, while also being assured that such wiretaps aren't being misused. So they set up the FISA court.

But that's not good enough for President Bush, who sought the right to wiretap people whenever he wanted. He asked congress for this power repeatedly, and was rebuffed. So the President, just like Jack Bauer of Fox's "24", went outside the rules to protect America.

Of course, reasonably people might ask why, if protecting the USA was the goal, he didn't just seek the appropriate warrants.

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