Wednesday, January 11, 2006

There's no reason to forgo warrants

These poll results really make me mad.

Poll finds U.S. split over eavesdropping
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Though Americans are growing more skeptical of the White House record on civil liberties, the nation is divided over whether the Bush administration should use wiretaps without first obtaining a warrant, a recent poll shows.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,003 adults found that 50 percent of those polled believe it's OK to forgo warrants when ordering electronic surveillance of people suspected of having ties to terrorists abroad.

If someone has been talking to al-Qaeda, why wouldn't a judge approve a wiretap? There is a secret court that was formed explicitly for this reason. The Bush administration says that the secret court just cannot act fast enough, but how can we accept that as a valid reason for illegal wiretapping? To use a cliche, how can justice that must be done in secret be justice at all?

Some say it may be a weakness of our system to put even someone as powerful as the president through official procedures, but it is also a strength. The freedom and liberties that we defend through "fighting terrorism" cannot be trampled upon in order to make that defense. We must work within the system. Any gains that can be made illegitimately are not worth their costs.

I strongly believe that there are legitimate ways to "fight terrorism" that are sufficient. If they are not, then we should work to change the system. However, at no point is it right to work outside of the system.

This isn't just rhetoric. I really do not think the marginal decreases in safety (the probability that your life will be harmed from a terrorist attack is far lower than the probability that a chemical in your home will kill you) justify the extreme decreases in liberty. And I'm really disturbed that the administration feels the other way.

So clearly the results of that poll are pretty depressing.

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