Proclaim liberty throughout all the land…
A society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. — Benjamin Franklin
“President” Bush yesterday signed legislation that broadens the government’s capacity to spy on American citizens.
Those of us that live overseas have been aware for quite a while that our phone calls with family and friends in The New Amerika, as well as the emails we send, are being monitored. We were also aware that it was illegal. The National Security Agency was conducting secret surveillance outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and without obtaining warrants from the FISA court.
But all of that changed yesterday. The covert NSA surveillance, that is the government spying on American citizens, was made legal. Which is not to say that it’s okay and which is not to say that it’s constitutional. In fact I would say that both the pяez and Congress have operated outside the law on this one. I once again laugh at those who thought the Democrats were going to save us.
Under the new law, the government can eavesdrop on a conversation without a warrant on the condition that the person who is their surveillance target is “reasonably believed” to be overseas. Don’t forget that if you are American and you travel or live overseas, the government will not be happy with you. They would like you to stay inside The New Amerika where they can keep a closer eye on you.
But don’t worry. The White House has assured us that the objective is to focus on foreign suspects who are overseas and that Americans will not be targeted. And don’t worry because oversight for this special international spying has been taken away from the FISA court and handed over to the attorney general and the national intelligence director. Both of whom can now force telecommunications companies to cooperate. And at least one of whom sponsors torture, but I guess that is beside the point.
And for those who repeat the foolish mantra, “Why should I care? I’ve got nothing to hide,” here is my answer. You can’t know that you’ve got nothing to hide when you don’t know what they are looking for. And what they are looking for next month may be different from what they were looking for last month. An innocent remark today may be the reason for your arrest tomorrow. And you can no longer count on the protection of habeas corpus.