Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Illegal Wiretapping

Americans seem to have forgotten why the Founding Fathers prohibited government from spying on them.

Such blind faith in government simply ignores the lessons of U.S. history. When the feds have unleashed themselves in the past, many innocent Americans’ lives were devastated.

Many Americans have shrugged off the recent controversy over illegal wiretaps because they assume that the government would never be concerned with people like themselves. But the FBI continually expanded its enemies list. Nixon aide Tom Charles Huston testified to Congress about COINTELPRO’s tendency “to move from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.”

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against “unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that government agents have a warrant based on probable cause issued by a magistrate “particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” before intruding. The purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to prevent government officials from having “dictatorial power over the streets” and elsewhere — to restrain the arbitrary power of officials vested with the coercive power of the state.

“The American Revolution was sparked in part by the complaints of the colonists against the issuance of writs of assistance, pursuant to which the king’s revenue officers conducted unrestricted, indiscriminate searches of persons and homes to uncover contraband.” Unfortunately, the revolutionary spirit now animating Washington is fighting to replace the right to privacy with the right to intrude.


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