Well, as if the wiretapping wasn’t bad enough… Evidently President Bush quietly added a signing statement to a recent postal reform bill which grants him the authority to open American mail without a judge issued search warrant. This naturally flies in the face of every existing law and judicial precedent on the matter and contradicts the very bill itself which specifically reinforces the protections against unwarranted search and seizures.

Now this is an extension of presidential power that gives him leverage to violate some of our rights prescribed by the constitution. That he used “exigent circumstances” troubles me a bit, that’s a broad and vague requirement and open to any manner of interpretation. Basically it’s like saying he can look at our mail whenever the situation demands it… He can construe this to basically mean “anytime” seeing as the threat of terrorism is ever-present and we are locked in an unwinnable war against a concept.

Why does this bug me? Because I know my history, and I know this exact pattern has been seen before. The threat of terrorism and attack has been used before to justify the invasion of privacy and rights, and the often seen “If you have nothing to fear then you have nothing to hide” defense (which is actually a fallacy of the false dichotomy by the way) has been used before… Few people are alive who remember it, but it was a very common defense in 1938 Nazi Germany… Yes, it’s important to remember that Hitler was elected to power and he slowly dismantled the democracy in the interest of national security by doing many of the same political maneuvering that the US is doing now. The Nazis began giving themselves more power and invading the privacy and infringing on the rights of the citizens more and more wielding the defense of protection and security.

I’m not necessarily likening Bush to Hitler, but I am using the example to illustrate how important it is that we are aware of the possible dangers with granting the president power to void our rights or break the law in the interest of “national security.”

In any case, I hope nobody takes their rights for granted and will actively defend them against those who’d like to take them away.

Mike

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