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

Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Mark Crispin (mrc@CAC.Washington.EDU)
Thu, 12 Jan 2006 14:35:15 -0800

On Thu, 12 Jan 2006, wrote:

> It goes a little further than that. Lawyers for the US government, in
> response to being sued by a Canadian (Maher Arar), indicated that they
> couldn't have trampled his rights while he was in the US (eg, he had
> no access to a lawyer). He doesn't _have_ any rights. They stated
> that the US Constitution doesn't apply to non-citizens while they are
> in the US.

Every country in the world has a similar policy. Non-citizens don't
have the "rights" of citizens, they have "privileges" which are
defined by the government. The Charter also uses "reasonable" as a
discriminate quite a bit more than than the US Constitution; and guess
who definites "reasonable".

The same applies to foreigners visiting Canada. The Charter makes
careful distinctions between citizens and "everyone"; and there are
additional limitations on how non-citizens can exercise those
"everyone" rights.

> Makes a non-US person want to vacation there, huh?

The US is generally quite a bit more liberal about giving out
privileges to foreigners than most other countries, including Canada
(although Canada is relatively liberal).

> The notwithstanding clause in the Charter allows Parliament (either
> federal or provincial) to pass a law which it deems necessary but
> which violate someone's rights.
> The notwithstanding clause has never been used.

The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that because the notwithstanding
clause exists, an Act of Parliament can not be seen as violating the
Charter. What's more, although technically Canadian courts can
declare a law unconstitutional, Canada's constitution gives the
federal (or any provincial!) government the power to overrule that

Parliamentary systems are pure democracies; they have nothing like the
US checks and balances. What the majority in parliament wants, they
get. That's how the dictatorships were established in Zimbabwe and
Singapore; there's no need for a coup as long as the ruling party can
pass laws to guarantee that it remains the ruling party.

If you're Canadian, you might want to take a closer look at what your
government is doing before commenting on domestic US issues.

> All of these hurtles and sober thought by society. And this is
> brought into discussion in reference to Bush not even wanting
> to need a judge to approve the wiretaps?

Reasonable people would recognize that there is a vast difference
between wiretaps on suspected domestic criminals and wiretaps on
suspected international terrorists. The latter is, in effect, a form
of espionage. No country requires that espionage activities go
through a judge.

It is doubtful that data obtained from espionage would be admissible
in court for a criminal prosecution. For example, it would be a bad
idea to use them for eco-terrorists since that would deprive the
prosecution of much of their evidence.

-- 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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