Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Comment from mistaken post

A while ago, I mistakenly posted my blog article on Bush's defense of domestic spying to my other blog. I pulled it once I found out about it being posted incorrectly, but still got a comment. Since I'm not going to mix messages in a blog, here's the comment, in it's entirety (not sure who sent it to me):
I don't know where your personal blog is, but you can take this comment and
shoot it over there (or just post the info and your response). If you are going
to post about such a complex legal issue as electronic eavesdropping on foreign
agents where domestic contact with said agents is possible, you might want to
(instead of using a child's view of the issue as a hammer to beat your political
opponents with) take a reasoned look at it prior to knee-jerking a response.
Since, I'm sure, you would not believe anyone's opinion on the subject who
doesn't hate Chimpy Bushitler McHaliburton, I'd suggest reading this editorial
by a former member of Clinton's Atty General's office, John Schmidt: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0512210142dec21,0,3553632.story?coll=chi-newsopinioncommentary-hed

Of all the stupid, inept or quasi-legal things you can beat up BushCo for,
this isn't one of them. We need to be able to spy on foreign agents without
having to worry about whether or not Americans (who are calling or are being
called by these agents) get spied on as well. Quite frankly, its those people
who are the ones we need to be keeping track of in the first place.

Some rebuttal to the comment is necessary.

First, I'm not a Bush hater because I'm a good liberal - I'm a Bush hater because I'm a freedom loving libertarian (also known as a classic liberal, but since the word "liberal" has been co-opted and redefined, like "gay" and "patriot", I'll stick with libertarian).

Second, while the President may have had authority to do so, that does not make it right. The City of New London has the authority to take your property and turn it over to someone else by the same argument - that does not make it right.

Third, we're talking about actions taken well along the wrong path to neutralizing the threat of terrorists. By stating that there is precedent and authority and correctness in this action, we're justifying the actions that led to it. Draconian security at our airports and train stations, secret courts and NSA letters, and covert spying on Americans at libraries and on the phone are justified by that fact that we are at war, when in fact that the war itself could have been avoided had we simply kept our imperial noses out of other country's respective businesses. By meddling in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries, we've earned the enmity of those people, and have been reaping the rewards of that meddling since 1946. Had we left well enough alone, or engaged in free and open trade rather than obtrusive foreign policies and military aid, I feel Al Qaeda would be a non-entity as far as the U.S. was concerned.

The op-ed piece mentioned above also cites a clause in the knee-jerk Congressional order giving the President power to use all necessary force to prevent another attack. The War on Terror, however, like the Wars on Drugs and Poverty, are not, as mentioned before, conventional wars, and to my mind, were not considered in the Constitution when the President was given Commander in Chief powers at wartime. Open-ended ill-defined wars against intangible enemies only serves to preserve broad and unchecked Executive power over the lives and well-being of Americans, and cut the life expectancy of citizens of perceived enemy states. While quoting an act passed by a Congress desirous of appearing to be "on top of the situation" isn't the best way to gets one's point across, it is, however, merely a supporting argument, not the main one.

The op-ed further goes on to say that, while use of this power, if done properly, has immense benefit for little cost, there is still something to fear if this power is not limited as the Bush Administration assures us it is. Given that the administration won't honor agreements in writing (Constitution? What Constitution? Fourth Amendment? Fifth Amendment?), how am I to be assured that a purely verbal assurance will be honored?

In summation, justifying the use or abuse of power, whether legal or not, in order to assure the perceived safety of the citzenry, is immoral. Temporary safety should NEVER be traded for essential liberty - in fact, unrestrained liberty is the best defense against outside threats, and the most feared weapon against internal threats such as those coming from our government.

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