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Duly Noted: Reach Out and Violate Someone’s Right

Published on: July 22nd, 2009

Thanks for nothing, Judge Walker.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in favor of AT&T in its landmark wiretapping case, upholding the law former President George W. Bush signed in 2008 effectively immunizing from prosecution all telecommunications.

That’s one more win for tyranny, folks.

It’s bad enough King George gave carte blanche to the NSA, CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, FAA, IRS, ATF, FDA, the USPS and pretty much anyone else to spy on American citizens with no restriction, no warrant, no probable cause for most of the last eight years.

It’s even worse that companies like AT&T fell all over themselves providing unfettered access, served up on a silver platter, for any federal jackbooted thug to peruse at their leisure, with no due process of anything even remotely resembling law, in the name of “national security.”

But the great evil, the really huge, sticks-in-my-craw annoyance that every American should be screaming about, is the fact that these companies were given a pass. Get out of jail free.

I understand that in times of war, really crazy stuff happens. Emotions are all over the map, everyone’s scared and willing to look the other way when the government’s waterboarding detainees or listening to our phone calls or reading our email. After a while, we expect cooler heads to prevail. We expect them to hold the nut jobs accountable and send a message to future would-be nut jobs to hopefully curb the ridiculous stuff from happening next time.

But instead of accountability, King George gave us the finger with the AT&T logo painted on the fingernail. And, here we are, another president in, a year removed, and this federal judge is upholding this lunacy, never mind how unconstitutional it may have been.

The Constitution was written in a time of war. And the founding fathers were pretty adamant about the Fourth Amendment. “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.”

It’s at times like this when courageous people stand up and side with history. If AT&T and its ilk had wielded its considerable leverage against the Fed and said, “No. Our customers have a right to privacy. Get a warrant and we’ll cooperate with no issue. Until then, take a hike,” the mileage would have been immeasurable. But they didn’t. And now, we can’t even hold them accountable for taking the easy way out. Just because the government breaks the law, AT&T, doesn’t mean you should.

It was one of the earliest things I learned from my mother: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

And they certainly don’t protect our rights, either.

For more information, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation at eff.org.

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