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Side Tracked

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I was planning on posting something else this morning, but a couple of pieces caught my eye that I wanted to share with you.
 
The first is an opinion piece in The Boston Globe by Laurence H. Tribe titled "Bush stomps on Fourth Amendment." He goes into detail in this piece about the legal background of collecting an individual's phone records. He sites a couple of arguments put forward by the courts which both support and disagree with this practice. I was thinking that when the courts made these arguments, they could not have imagined that we would ever be able to keep track of every phone record ever made. An individual phone record by itself is really not a problem. Its when you compile thousands of them over a long period of time that they begin to tell their own story about you and your lifestyle. That's where the Forth Amendment infringement argument lies. Anyway, its a good read. I did want to highlight his closing comments for you, as I thought it was well put:

Privacy apart, this president's defiance of statutes by the dozens is constitutionally alarming. But the matter goes deeper still. Even if Congress were to repeal the laws securing telephone privacy, or if phone companies found loopholes to slip through when pressured by government, the Constitution's Fourth Amendment shield for ''the right of the people to be secure" from ''unreasonable searches" is a shield for all seasons, one that a lawless president, a spineless Congress, and a complacent majority of citizens -- who are conditioned to a government operating under a shroud of secrecy while individuals live out their lives in fishbowls -- cannot be permitted to destroy, for the rest of us and our children.

I couldn't agree more!

Another article that I thought was noteworthy was this, titled "The Spies Who Shag Us." The article explains how government intelligence agencies have gotten around many of the prohibitions the Congress and the American people have imposed on them with regards to keeping an eye on you. The article states, in part, that:

...the snooping into your phone bill is just the snout of the pig of a strange, lucrative link-up between the Administration's Homeland Security spy network and private companies operating beyond the reach of the laws meant to protect us from our government.  You can call it the privatization of the FBI -- though it is better described as the creation of a private KGB.

The article continues:

They are paid to keep an eye on you  -- because the FBI can't.  For the government to collect this stuff is against the law unless you're suspected of a crime.  (The law in question is the Constitution.)  But ChoicePoint can collect if for "commercial" purchases -- and under the Bush Administration's suspect reading of the Patriot Act -- our domestic spying apparatchiks can then BUY the info from ChoicePoint."

The article continues by explaining that ChoicePoint is not the most reputable company when it comes to accuracy. You may recognize their name from recent headlines, too. They're the company that disclosed thousands of individual's private financial records to criminals posing as legitimate companies. Oops! So, government does exactly what we told them not to do; they just do it by proxy instead. In other words, they're still collecting the intel, but now they do it through private firms. Sneaky little so-and-so's, no?. For more on these folks at ChoicePoint, you can visit this page at Epic.org.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

Thanks for the link to Epic.org about ChoicePoint. Though, in general, I'm against most laws, in this case there needs to be a law or a Constitutional Amendment against the government using a private agency to circumvent the intent of the 4th and 5th Amendments.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Difranco said...

There really doesn't need to be another law created. The 4th and 5th amendments do cover this intrusion.

When the government is buying products or services from a corporation such as Choicepoint it has in it's very essence hired Choicepoint to do this action. Choicepoint has become an agent of the state through commerce. This is how facisism works. Industry is privatized but government is in control.

This is no different than you hiring a contractor to remodel your kitchen. The contractor works for you and work at your pleasure.

5:02 PM  

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