Sunday, June 22, 2008

Death by a thousand cuts...

Well, they're at it again. Or still. The president and the congress are again thumbing their collective noses at the 4th amendment guarantees of protection against unreasonable searches. If that disgusts you like it does Libertarians, you might want to consider voting against it this fall.



Here's the press release from the Barr for President campaign:

"June 19, 2008 6:33 pm EST

Atlanta, GA -- “In asserting his power to conduct warrantless searches of Americans, President George W. Bush has expressed his clear contempt for the Fourth Amendment. So has Sen. John McCain, despite his reputation as a supposed maverick,” says Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president. Now the Democratic-led Congress is preparing to approve a so-called compromise that gives the Bush administration almost everything it wants in order to expand dramatically the power of the federal government to surveil American citizens without court orders. “America desperately needs leaders who will stand up for the Bill of Rights,” observes Barr, “not those who flaunt its vital and time-honored protections.”

The president already has the power to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists. The 30-year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides for court oversight, along with the requirement that the government get a warrant. “The court has virtually never rejected a request,” notes Barr. “Changes in technology require updating the law, not gutting it.”

However, the bill being advanced by the Democratic leadership “would allow the government to listen to millions of phone calls by Americans with neither an individualized warrant nor an assessment of probable cause,” he adds. Although the law would offer some protection when a particular American was expressly targeted, even then “the proposed rules fall short of what the Fourth Amendment mandates.”

Moreover, the bill would immunize telephone companies from wrong-doing, protecting them against law suits even when the firms violated the law by helping the government conduct warrantless searches. Past cases would simply be dismissed. “Conservatives once said, ‘you do the crime, you do the time,’ but no longer,” observes Barr. Now virtually the entire Republican Party is prepared to sacrifice the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans in favor of federal government power.

And the Democratic leadership is ready to do the same. Congressional Democrats privately say that they don’t want to take the political risk of opposing the president. “But the individual liberty of Americans is not a political football, something to be tossed about when an election looms,” insists Barr. “It is the constitutional duty of lawmakers of both parties to defend the Constitution, even when they believe doing so might be politically inconvenient.”

Advocates of abandoning the Constitution warn us that we live in dangerous times. But Americans have long lived in dangerous times. “That didn’t stop the nation’s founders from creating a Constitution that secured individual liberty and limited government,” notes Barr. “It shouldn’t stop us from following the Constitution today.”

Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA.

Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and has teamed up with groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Conservative Union to actively advocate every American citizens’ right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Along with this, Bob is committed to helping elect leaders who will strive for smaller government, lower taxes and abundant individual freedom."

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