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    Bush Administration Pushing Domestic Surveillance Envelope

    Published: Friday, October 28, 2005

    ecret wiretaps. Seized bank records. Unconsented physical searches. Secret computer tracking. Enter the ever-growing government world of domestic spying.

    A recent Washington Post report (Monday, Oct. 24, 2005; A01) stated, "The FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight, according to previously classified documents to be released today.

    "Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations."

    The report also said, "[FBI] agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired, seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper 'unconsented physical search,' according to the documents.

    "Although heavily censored, the documents provide a rare glimpse into the world of domestic spying, which is governed by a secret court and overseen by a presidential board that does not publicize its deliberations. The records are also emerging as the House and Senate battle over whether to put new restrictions on the controversial USA Patriot Act, which made it easer for the government to conduct secret searches and surveillance but has come under attack from civil liberties groups."

    The Post report quotes David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center as saying, "We're seeing what might be the tip of the iceberg at the FBI and across the intelligence community. It indicates that the existing mechanisms do not appear adequate to prevent abuses or to ensure the public that abuses that are identified are treated seriously and remedied."

    This writer has previously attempted to warn his readers regarding the way this administration seems obsessed with trampling America's basic liberties under the rubric of national security. Americans should be very concerned when any administration, Republican or Democrat, is willing to disregard or even suspend the Constitution and Bill of Rights-for any reason! And that is exactly what the Bush administration seems determined to do!

    However, the Bush administration does not seem content to routinely abuse our right to privacy. It has also publicly called for the suspension of Posse Comitatus and for the U.S. military to take charge of domestic emergencies. (Source: The Washington Times, "Bush seeks to federalize emergencies," Sept. 27, 2005)

    I believe it is urgent that the American people, especially people calling themselves conservatives, become cognizant of the many attempts by the Bush administration to eviscerate the constitutional protections of our liberties. We must not allow this, or any, administration to undo this remarkable experiment in liberty.

    It is incumbent upon all Americans to remember that any government that is unwilling to conduct itself according to the enumerated principles contained within the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution is a rogue government deserving neither our submission nor support!

    I urge my readers to listen to my radio interview with former Georgia congressman Bob Barr. [Click here for interview]

    At this very moment, House and Senate conferees are meeting to resolve differences with each chamber's version of the just-passed Patriot Act. The Senate version is preferable to that of the House. The truth is, the House version is nightmarish, as it contains almost no safeguards against further governmental abuse of power.

    Congress is given oversight of the executive branch but heretofore has done little to exercise this important responsibility. It is time for people to let their congressmen know that they will tolerate no more infringements upon their liberties and privacy! Or have we become so sheepish that what previous generations of Americans found valuable enough to fight and die to obtain we now find too cheap to keep?

    It is the responsibility of each generation of Americans to pass down to the next generation of Americans a nation that is both strong and free. This is not accomplished by laxity or indifference.

    Claiming it is protecting America by fighting terrorism abroad, this administration sends US forces to Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, this same administration invades our privacy, attempts to expunge Posse Comitatus, and routinely ignores our own laws and Constitution. This, they say, is necessary to protect us from terrorism at home.

    However, if in the quest for national security, Americans are subjected to ubiquitous surveillance, the loss of our right to privacy, and the abridgement of personal liberties, who is going to protect us from our own government?

    © 2005 Chuck Baldwin - All Rights Reserved

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