Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How many for how long?

In light of the wide net the NSA has cast looking for terrorists, here's a couple of rhetorical questions for ya.

How many civil liberties would you give up to win the war on terror? And for how long? The response, "For as long as it takes", will be assumed to mean for the rest of your life, given that there is no clearly defined milestone for victory.

(A smartass might interject that the Commander-in-Chief declared "Mission Accomplished" more than 30 months ago.)

10 comments:

Wagstaff said...

What's a civil liberty? Can they be enumerated? Can I count them on one hand or two? Are we talking about the Bill of Rights here? This all seems a bit abstract to me.

If you're talking about me having a phone call with terrorist overseas then I think the Gov. should be listening. I'm not trying to be a smartass here, but it does seem very vague.

Jeffrey Hill said...

I smell a trap. Wagstaff is right, the question is vague. Regardless, I’m of the mind that we shouldn’t be rounding up the Islamic population in the US and putting them in big internment camps. Ask me the same question after a few big attacks stateside or the first Sharia-based laws and the answer might change. Can’t say that the NSA’s activities have bothered me much at all, since I figure their aim is fighting terror. I’d like them to get better and better at it...for as long as it takes.

Dude said...

The liberties granted to individuals in the Bill of Rights and other amendments. Like a search without a warrant (Amendment 4).

"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."

I'll even throw in the due process amendment (14) as well, vis-a-vis Jose Padilla, an American citizen held without trial for 3 years. The "dirty bomb" charges were finally dropped, as was his "enemy combatant" status.

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge
the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any
State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of
law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
laws."

Padilla will finally be getting his trial, and may be convicted of lesser charges. He's no saint, but the whole point of the Bill of Rights was to protect liberties (there I go again) that had been trampled on by King George (i.e. "For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:")

And it's not a trap, it's a request for debate.

My point is that the last president to spy without warrants and make such a brazen power grab was impeached and later resigned.

And what if you're not having a conversation with a terrorist overseas, but a friend who is overseas?

SENATOR JOE BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE: Can you assure us, you personally can assure us that no one is being eavesdropped upon in the United States other than someone who has a communication that is emanating from foreign soil by a suspected terrorist, al Qaeda or otherwise?

GONZALES: Sir, I can't give you absolute assurance.

Wagstaff said...

The 4th and 14th amendments. Hey, those sound good. I say we keep them. Didn't know they were under assault. Where's the ACLU?

Honestly, I lose zero sleep over my erroding civil liberties (or the coming theocratic takeover, for that matter.) I guess that's because I don't think it's happening. Don't make me quote John Ashcroft's line about phantoms of lost liberty.

Jose Padilla. I had a feeling I'd be hearing that name again. The case against Padilla may turn out to be just or unjust, I don't know, but three years on and I'm still hearing about this guy. If he's supposed to be the canary in the coalmine of our deteriorating civil liberies, then I'd say he's alive and chirping in his cage.

As to the Gov. listening to my international call to a friend, I don't know. Am I aware of it? Are there consequences? I think I'd rather have the Gov. listening in on my phone calls than, say, my mother.

Jeffrey Hill said...

I make phone calls overseas every single day, albeit not to Middle Eastern countries, and I’m not troubled at all by government ears. They’d be wasting their time monitoring me, but that’s about the extent of it. If I felt that the personal information exchanged in those calls, emails and IM conversations was less secure because of the NSA, I’d start having issues. The short of it is this: it’s not what I consider an unreasonable search & it’s certainly not a seizure.

Jose Padilla’s detention does not represent a breech in the 14th amendment. Once the enemy combatant status (upheld by the courts) was dropped by the Justice department, Padilla was charged. That might be fishy, but not illegal. Claims that the administration is trampling on our rights or using the Constitution as sanitary wipes or what not are hard to take seriously.

Dude said...

But no one has answered the question. Let me offer multiple choice answers.

How many of your rights, enumerated in the Constitution, are you willing to give up to fight terrorism, and for how long?

a) None
b) All of them! Let's start with the right to bear arms!
c) Some (please detail which ones).
d) I'm not worried about any checks or balances of random searches, because I trust the motives and the competence of every individual in the government 100%.
e) I am neither Muslim nor of Arab descent, so I don't see how the question applies to me.

Wagstaff said...

Hey, that's no fair, Dude! You said these questions were rhetorical. Maybe you can give me some more rhetorical answers to choose from, I'm not sure I like the ones already.
Hmm, How many and for How long. God, I hate brain-teasers in the morning. I'll think about this later.

Jeffrey Hill said...

I thought my first answer was about as direct as possible - I even accepted your terms of "as long as it takes." As tempting as it is to quip that I'd be willing to suspend x right and y right for 20 years, that is simply imprudent. Wagstaff is right about the multiple choices provided, but I'll venture in anyway. I don’t think we should deny any rights in the Constitution (answer a). Here is the caveat: nor should we jeopardize the rights of Americans by extending rights to terrorists – whether they are American citizens or aliens. The long term preservation of our rights outweighs the short term – should a conflict between the two arise. I wish I could be more direct about the matter, but it's not a black and white world.

Anonymous said...

Okay Dude, here's an answer for you, you paranoid, simpering, self important, blazingly bait-laying, posturing politici; I would give up several civil liberties for an indeterminable period of time including wire-tapping, search without a warrant, etc., because I don't have or do anything that would be of interest to the government, and they are not mindless drones that are drooling to get average joe in their clutches to find out if his coffee is the only thing Columbian he consumes, or if he has a girlfriend in Malaysia that likes the Rolling Stones. I don't pretend to know more,(I suppose you do, and blogging is just your way of saving the world), than these people who have devoted themselves at the sacrific of their own personal lives and 'civil liberties'. The vast majority of those serving our country and it's people on all levels of government do so for the good, yes,the good, the 'good' that we as a people have enjoyed more than any other people in the world. And please, don't start with the "and what do you define as 'good'?" BS. I also say this with the full understanding that humans are fallable and I may even mistakenly be detained or even convicted of some crime because of these potential changes, but that would be a sacrifice that, although horrible and tragic, I would be willing to make if that would potentially help OVER TIME(a concept appearently lost to the "I want it yesterday" simpering ninnies)to secure our country, and strengthen our people. Have some faith, vote on things you have studied up on as much as you can, keep your nose clean, enjoy and be grateful for all the freedom and riches in life you have been gifted with, and have a little respect for your fellow man and Americans. And oh, yeah, quit your caterwauling you belly-aching bi-ped.

Anonymous said...

Okay Dude, here's an answer for you, you paranoid, simpering, self important, blazingly bait-laying, posturing politici; I would give up several civil liberties for an indeterminable period of time including wire-tapping, search without a warrant, etc., because I don't have or do anything that would be of interest to the government, and they are not mindless drones that are drooling to get average joe in their clutches to find out if his coffee is the only thing Columbian he consumes, or if he has a girlfriend in Malaysia that likes the Rolling Stones. I don't pretend to know more,(I suppose you do, and blogging is just your way of saving the world), than these people who have devoted themselves at the sacrific of their own personal lives and 'civil liberties'. The vast majority of those serving our country and it's people on all levels of government do so for the good, yes,the good, the 'good' that we as a people have enjoyed more than any other people in the world. And please, don't start with the "and what do you define as 'good'?" BS. I also say this with the full understanding that humans are fallable and I may even mistakenly be detained or even convicted of some crime because of these potential changes, but that would be a sacrifice that, although horrible and tragic, I would be willing to make if that would potentially help OVER TIME(a concept appearently lost to the "I want it yesterday" simpering ninnies)to secure our country, and strengthen our people. Have some faith, vote on things you have studied up on as much as you can, keep your nose clean, enjoy and be grateful for all the freedom and riches in life you have been gifted with, and have a little respect for your fellow man and Americans. And oh, yeah, quit your caterwauling you belly-aching bi-ped.