Friday, August 18, 2006

Open Discussion

Read and comment!

One thing I absolutely despise are talking points. I HATE the phrases "Stay the Course" and "Cut and Run" because they don't discuss the situation accurately nor do they adequately explain either side's position. I don't like a lot of the discourse on the recent decision regarding the warrantless wiretaps, where the Republican position that I saw yesterday (on CNN, even) was essentially "this is a liberal judge who cited other liberal judges and therefore she's wrong." I've also heard people say things to the effect that this decision is welcoming for terrorists or that the judge is soft on terror, or whatever. Essentially, they're attacking the messenger and not the message. These are not the issues for the case.

If you want to argue standing to bring the suit, that's fine. If you want to argue 1st amendment issues, or 4th amendment issues or debate the "right of privacy," great. Let's hear it. But quit with the polarization. This should be about what's best for the citizens of the coutry, not what's best for the Republicans or what's best for the Democrats.

Without going too much into detail, it looks to me as though the government's position was "the President says this is legal, and we say it's legal, but in order to prove that it's legal, we'd have to reveal secrets, which we can't (won't) do. So trust us."

The Constitution was not popular when it was drafted. It wouldn't have been ratified except for the promise that a bill of rights would soon follow (thank you, George Mason for what we got!). The reason for the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights was to contain the power of the federal government. The last thing the American people wanted was another tyranny after fighting the Revolution to get away from British Tyranny. They wanted to protect Americans from their own government, essentially. A small government, as it were. Therefore, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were drafted, to help curtail the intrusion of the government into everyday life. This is a widely accepted theory, and one that I think most reasonable people could agree with. I suppose one could call these civil liberties...

What the president did with his warrantless wiretapping rule was say that FISA authorized him to do in the name of national security that which the Constitution was designed to prevent - intrude on the lives of American People. There is a legitimate debate as to the 4th amendment protections there. One could argue that it is not unreasonable to listen in on telephone conversations, especially if that individual is a suspected terrorist. However, one could also legitimately argue that if the government has enough information to suspect an individual is a terrorist, then they reasonably should have probable cause enough to secure a warrant to do what they are doing.

One could reasonably argue that the framers of the Constitution did not believe that American people deserved a right to privacy, as they did not write that into the Constitution. One could also argue that the right to be secure in their person implies a right to privacy. One ALSO could argue that the Supreme Court's finding of a fundamental right to privacy guarantees individuals the right to not have their telephone conversations monitored. In arguing that the government needs to be able to monitor these conversations without having to secure a warrant, the position appears to be that the need for security is greater than the need for liberty, which appears to me to be in contravention to the Founders' intent. The question then becomes, what is more important to the American people?

I get concerned when I hear arguments that say we need to trust the government to do what's right without having them show that they're allowed to. I believe that runs toward a situation where we are in danger of oppression by the government, which I think is precisely what the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights sought to prevent.

This is my opinion, and I believe that it's the right opinion. Am I completely wrong? I want to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

No, you're not wrong. This is where i think out two countries differ. Aussies question everything the government does...we trust no one even if we vote them in! If and when our government tries anything potentially underhanded, we speak up, we hold them totally accountable.
As for a Bill of Rights, well, i believe your BOR hasn't worked very well at all, which is why i am so glad we don't have one.
It's good to question :o)