TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Mark Crispin (mrc@CAC.Washington.EDU)
Sat, 7 Jan 2006 22:36:48 -0800

On Sat, 7 Jan 2006, Katherine Shrader wrote:

> Yet 56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government
> should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the
> overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications
> are believed to be tied to terrorism.

This is something that confuses me.

Were the calls that were eavesdropped of US citizens? Or were they of
non-citizens who happened to be in the US? The reports that I heard
indicated that it was the latter.

Most foreign countries substantially abridge the rights of American
citizens in their countries compared to their citizens. I have direct
first-hand experience on this count. I see no reason for the US not
to do the same.

In fact, we already do. Non-citizens in the US are generally denied
the rights, enjoyed by citizens, to:

. reside
. employment
. possess a firearm
. public assistance
. vote, etc.

There are means by which a non-citizen can get these rights (green
card, alien firearms license, etc.); but normally visitors to the US
are very much limited compared to citizens and green card holders.

I don't see why a non-citizen should expect the right to privacy of
communications in the US if that non-citizen falls under suspicion of

You can bet that outside the US, the phones of anyone suspected of
terrorist ties are tapped, EU regulations or not. In some cases, the
bureaucracy conceals it, and it's a crime for the press to reveal what
the bureaucracy has concealed.

In other cases (e.g., Canada), the very document that states all these
wonderful rights gives the government the power to abridge them
whenever it thinks it's necessary. Don't believe me? Read Canada's
"Charter of Rights and Freedoms", and note the "notwithstanding"
clauses (in particular section 33):

-- Mark --
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.

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