Friday, July 11, 2008

Warrantless Eavesdropping

Well, it seems more American rights are wiped clean in the name of terrorism as each year passes. The telecom immunity and warrantless wiretap bill passed yesterday (another Obama flipflop) which allows the government to listen into your communications as easily as flipping a switch. It also provides immunity for telecom companies who provided information to the government when it was still illegal. As my previous post discussed, when something is illegal, isn't it still illegal, regardless of what future law is passed?

You and I both know the terrorist label can be thrown around loosely to eavesdrop on anyone they choose. And of course, most spineless Americans are okay with just about anything the government proposes in the name of "security" and "freedom." The sheep just follow the herd.

This bill is, of course, Bush's baby since he was the one who requested telecoms to break the law from the get-go. I'm sure if Bush had his way, we'd all be tagged with GPS chips. Luckily, courts do still have some power and blocked his attempt at keeping white house visitors secret. I think it is pretty important that our political leaders be transparent with matter such as these. I swear our country tries to becomes more like the KGB as each year that passes (especially with Bush running the show).

So, the following is a little off-topic, but my point is to demonstrate negative side-effects of bad laws.

A good example of how a law intended for one thing and snares someone else would be the Spitzer hooker scandal. One of the provisions in The [un]Patriot[otic] Act required banks to report "suspicious" bank transactions. The governor was buying his hookers with quite a few wire transfers. I guess he should have used money orders. Of course, the standard sophomoric American mind, says "good, it caught someone who was breaking the law." Well not so good when you think about how the law was supposed to snare terrorists, not unethical politicians. This is just one highly publicized case that caught someone doing something illegal. What about all the unpublished, insignificant cases that don't lead to headlines?

It doesn't seem completely unreasonable to me the prospect of one person having multiple wire-transfers. Family members who live in a poor country, perhaps? A family member in need of some money but you can't get it all at once. Perhaps a family member's health goes from okay, to poor to really bad in a multi-week period, so you wire money multiple times to take care of a procedure, medicine or other costs. Let's think up some other situations - add a comment to this post!

Would you appreciate having to explain yourself to the government why you are moving your money? Wouldn't having to meet with the FBI make you even a little nervous even though you are 100% sure you did nothing illegal? Would you want them examining your life before even letting you know about it or letting you explain the situation? Welcome to warrantless eavesdropping.

Think about the other provisions that KGB-type Acts allow the government to do that you aren't even aware of? What doesn't get published? You think this is the first time some of these new acts have snared a non-terrorist? Think again.

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