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The Gantseh Megillah

The Outspeaker

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The above is the entire text of the fourth amendment to what used to be our Constitution. Fairly clear, isn’t it? It states in the second part that any official wishing to pry into the private lives of a citizen must swear an oath before a judge, and having done so must further list the particular things the official is looking for. Hence the IRS, or any agency of government, cannot legally enter your house or property on a “fishing expedition,” looking for whatever incriminating evidence might turn up which could be used against you.

The first part seems to forbid said agencies from pawing through personal papers and effects on their own volition, hunting for incriminating evidence. This would logically extend to any communication such as e-mail, and other media such as computer hard drives. In short, they must stand before a judge and request a warrant. They must further convince the judge that they have valid reason to suspect that you have committed or intend to commit some sort of crime. Then they must tell the judge what, in particular, they are searching for.

True, this amendment was written into law several hundred years ago, and times have admittedly changed. With this in mind, Congress wisely passed legislation that offers law enforcement a “fast track” alternative. This FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) legislation, passed in 1978, provided a confidential panel of justices who were empowered to issue wiretap warrants to be used against terrorism and espionage suspects. It also allowed agencies to initiate wiretaps immediately without a warrant, and gave them three months to retroactively file the paperwork for a warrant.

This, apparently, is not sufficient to the ends of the Bush Mafia Family. Not only have they admitted to the illegal wiretapping of innocent US citizens, they are attempting to defend their fascist actions under the guise of, you guessed it, “Keeping us Safe from those who Hate us for our Freedom!”

As part of this “enhanced” protection, they have offered us the additional safety of monitoring our hard drives and e-mails. Private investigation firms have long had proprietary software that can automatically search for strings of text, occurring in documents or e-mails. This technology has been used to protect intellectual property and for anti-copyright infringement on the Internet, but could easily be adapted to other uses. For instance, text strings such as: “Kill the Infidels” could easily be flagged and their authors placed under surveillance, whether they meant the statement as a joke or not. Or how ‘bout this scenario: Some loony writer who cobbles together a column for a Jewish website has, for some reason, taken an editorial stance that is in opposition to the current administration. He corresponds monthly with the editor of the website, who lives in a foreign country. His text is rife with pithy text strings such as, oh, say, “Bush/Horse’s Ass,” or perhaps, “Cheny/Nazi.” I suppose that would be evidence of SOMETHING or other, if not treason, then perhaps “posing an ongoing threat to Republicans being re-elected” would do. Reasons are increasingly a grey area where these idiots are concerned. If anyone doubts the last statement, I suggest they follow the as yet unfolding lobbying scandal.

{Incidentally, I have decided to become a registered lobbyist myself. I have downloaded the necessary forms, and am at present knuckling my brow as I attempt to decipher them. Once finished and filed, I intend to take Hillary and Chuck Schumer to lunch (under $50, natch!) and bend their ears on behalf of my clients, consisting, at present, of myself and my wife. Of course, if anyone else within range wants in on this, just let me know!}

At one of his more embarrassing press conferences, Mr. Bush attempted to assure the nation that he was not and never would engage in the slimy and illegal activities he was later to admit to. He offered as evidence of his rigid adherence to the law, the fact that he had “raised his hand and swore an oath to uphold the Constitution.” This was, of course, like most of what the ass says and does, merely theater. He was once again asking us to simply take his word for it. Take his word for the faked pre-war intelligence, take his word for the competence of his FEMA director (“You’re doin’ a heck of a job Brownie!), and now take his word for his careful custodianship of our most sacred secular text, our Constitution.

A recent quote from a justice department spokesman: "The president has made clear that he will use his constitutional and statutory authorities to protect the American people from further terrorist attacks," said Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, adding that the program represented "a critical tool in the war on terror that saves lives and protects civil liberties at the same time."

Sorry. I don’t buy it. This administration must be neutered for the next three years if we are to emerge from their ongoing theater of the absurd in roughly the same shape we were in when we stupidly bought our front-row seats. We have nobody but ourselves to blame for the pranging we are taking from this crew. And nobody save the cowards that once called themselves Liberal Democrats to look to for relief.

I have stated before and perhaps it bears repeating: If we allow our constitutional rights to be stripped in the name of safety, then terrorists don’t need to fly planes into our buildings. They have already won.

On to the mid-term elections! Vote smart!

Thank you for your indulgence. I welcome any and all comments.

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