L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 203, December 16, 2002
HAPPY BILL OF RIGHTS DAY!
Freedom's Most Dangerous Enemy
Special to TLE
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" -- Oath of office required by the United States Constitution (Article 2, Section 1), to be taken prior to assuming the duties of President.
Our freedoms in America are under attack. There is no question about that. Politicians in Washington D.C. have been telling us about the danger we are in for over a year now as part of the government's effort to ram "homeland security" proposals through the legislative process. The most frightening aspect of our current crisis is that our freedoms are not in peril because of Al Queda or Osama Bin Laden, but that our freedoms are under assault because of George W. Bush and his administration, particularly John Ashcroft.
Bill Clinton was arguably the worst President ever when it came to honoring individual freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution -- that is, until George W. Bush took office. President Clinton's and Janet Reno's hostility towards our freedom pale in comparison to George W. Bush's and John Ashcroft's plan to destroy our liberty. The same Republicans who, for eight years, rightly decried Clinton's expansive government and intrusion into our personal lives are now almost entirely silent as George W. Bush shapes our national government in the pattern of something from Orwell's 1984. "Big Brother" is not only here because of the Bush administration, he is being openly embraced and celebrated in the name of "security".
"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." -- Amendment 4 of the United States Constitution.
In simple terms, the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the government from searching any of our personal property, records or communication unless evidence can be shown that there is "probable cause" of a crime. Even when "probable cause" is shown, the government is required to put in writing specifically what it wants to search for as a result of a warrant. Is this cumbersome on law enforcement? You bet, and America's Founding Fathers wisely designed it that way.
The great men who debated, wrote and ratified our Constitution intentionally chose to value our personal freedoms and rights over the interests of the government. These men knew that it is vital to establish clear boundaries of law in order to protect citizens from those who want to destroy liberty. Our Founding Fathers specifically designed our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, to protect us from men like George W. Bush and John Ashcroft.
Since September 11th, 2001, President Bush and John Ashcroft have spared no effort in destroying the principles and values that made America great. Among the first major initiatives was the "T.I.P.S." program. This program would have made postal workers, utility meter readers, trash collectors, bank tellers, cable TV installers and anyone else who is out in public on a regular basis de facto government agents whose job is to peer into our homes and business transactions while on the job and report anything "suspicious". Then, government thugs would take over with an investigation. Bear in mind, this program makes you and I -- American citizens -- the target of the government's new deputies' prying eyes.
Officially, the T.I.P.S. program was never implemented after a tremendous amount of outcry from those who stood up to protect our Fourth Amendment right to privacy.
I say "officially" because I seriously doubt that the F.B.I. will refuse to take down information from the mailman who thinks someone should be investigated because they receive too many plain packages or because their mail is from political groups he doesn't like.
Those of us who oppose the T.I.P.S. plan were ridiculed by Attorney General Ashcroft as aiding and abetting terrorists. President Bush, of course, backed Ashcroft in this effort. Ashcroft arrogantly feels that we should all surrender our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms to him in the name of "homeland security". What the Attorney General could not get voluntarily, he chose to fight for in court.
On Monday, November 18th, 2002 Ashcroft's Justice Department and President Bush's administration won in Federal Court the ability to employ secret wiretaps and surveillance against Americans. Bush and Ashcroft sought, and gained, the ability to get a secret search warrant that can be executed without the knowledge of the citizen being searched. In fact, under the provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT (which was strongly promoted by both Bush and Ashcroft) the subject of the search has no right to see the documents supporting the search warrant. Therefore, any American citizen that the government wants to put under secret surveillance has no right to due process when subjected to government action.
Anyone who feels that George W. Bush could not become more overt in attacking the liberty we cherish should take a deep breath before reading any further.
Now, the Bush administration has commissioned an effort to create a database that will monitor and document every purchase, business transaction and monetary transaction made by everyone in America (see [this story] if you don't believe me). The database, if successfully built, would also keep track of travel history and any reports- including those from anonymous sources - of suspicious activity. A Pentagon spokesman calls the project a system designed to locate "patterns indicative of terrorist activity." This is the government's "Total Information Awareness Program".
The fact that George W. Bush, through his administration of the Pentagon, is even allowing such an effort, let alone promoting it, proves his outright contempt for the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms he took an oath to protect. No thinking person can possibly believe that the Total Information Awareness Program complies with the Fourth Amendment. Tragically, this is just the latest pattern of President Bush's assault on the Constitution and on our individual rights.
There is only one appropriate remedy for President Bush's criminal behavior: impeachment and removal from office. While that certainly will never happen in a Republican-controlled Congress, we must make certain to remember the sins of Bush's tenure in office and remove him the old-fashioned way: by ensuring that he loses his bid for reelection in 2004. Your freedom depends on it.
Flight From Eden by Kathryn A. Graham - America's religious right has gone mad, but if you are looking for a political lecture, go elsewhere! Instead, let the Texas Director for Armed Females of America take you on the science fiction adventure of a lifetime. And the journey is only beginning!