“Constitution? Bill of Rights? What Bill of Rights?”

I have watched with growing anxiety the erosion of civil rights in the USA over the last 20 years. I first became aware of it when Mr. Nixon used the office of the president to wage a personal war on his enemies, such as John Lennon. Today, Mr. Bush the younger makes Mr. Nixon look like an amateur. So I was indignant, after all that’s happened to our freedoms in the name of the “Global War on Terrorism,” to learn that our Congress is rallying around Representative William Jefferson, who was videotaped accepting a $100,000 bribe, and whose office was recently searched, eight months after being subpoenaed, which Mr. Jefferson ignored, and with a warrant, which is more than millions of American phone users are getting. It seems that when American citizen’s rights are violated, it’s not Congress’ problem. When a Congressperson’s rights are violated, Congress is ready to fight. I was very disappointed that no media outlet noticed that. Until today.

The USA Today article, which hopefully will remain online, is right on target. It closes with, “What a pity that Congress’ leaders haven’t used their clout to protect the public’s rights as eagerly as they defend their own.” Amen.

Another question comes to mind. Since all of the information about our government spying on Americans has come from media outlets and not our public servants themselves, what else is going on that we don’t know about?

And who even remembers Carnivore, the program developed by the government that electronically reads every email that goes through any American Internet Service Provider? The government has reportedly switched to a third-party software program to do the same thing. This last link contains the charmingly naïve paragraph:

    Privacy – Many folks viewed Carnivore as a severe violation of privacy. While the potential for abuse is certainly there, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) provides legal protection of privacy for all types of electronic communication. Any type of electronics surveillance requires a court order and must show probable cause that the suspect is engaged in criminal activities. Therefore, use of Carnivore in any way that did not adhere to ECPA was illegal and could be considered unconstitutional.

Does anyone believe this sort of thing any more? How can one, in light of recent, unilateral policy changes from the White House? Judging by our government’s two known citizen surveillance programs (tracking all phone calls made from the US, and listening to all calls to or from another country) and our leaders’ staunch defense of the skipping of due process and court orders, it seems reasonable to wonder if the ECPA, the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and even some of our more fundamental rights with which our Creator endowed us have any relevance in the modern world.

As Dennis Miller would say, “Well, that’s my opinion. I could be wrong.”

Update 5/29/06: The Austrialian weighs in with their take on the debacle.

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are intended to entertain and uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

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One Comment on ““Constitution? Bill of Rights? What Bill of Rights?””


  1. […] Read it and weep. For people who believe in democracy recent news has been disheartening: warrant-less spying on Americans by the NSA, the Supreme Court’s weakening of the Fourth Amendment protections against […]


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