President Bush signed a bill Thursday that overhauls government surveillance rules, and grants immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on cell, landline, and computer communications. Bush has hailed this legendary bill a “landmark legislation that is vital to the security of our people.”
Bush originally tried to pass this bill after the 9/11 attacks. Strongly protested by civil rights groups, it has been highly debated in Senate for the last year, and pushed through just last week. The Government will now be able to collect personal information without court orders, civilian knowledge, or permission. The ACLU has declared this a “blatant assault on civil liberties and the right to privacy.”
Surprisingly, the presidential “candidate for change” Barack Obama voted for the bill. He said that while he found it imperfect, it was still a good compromise. Even though, “It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration’s program of warrantless wiretapping,” he believes that the “Government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people.” Senator and presidential candidate McCain did not vote on the bill because he was on the campaign trail at the time of the vote.
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) was the bills most vocal opponent stating “The President broke the law.” Only 28 members voted against the unconstitutional bill. They are:
As an attack on the fourth amendment ensues, once again America has been served the “terrorist mantra” in order to take away our civil rights. Since 9/11 the news has been filled with information on the “war on terror,” and unbeknownst to the majority of the American public we have given away a large portion of our civil rights in the name of “safety.” What happens when your own Government is the terrorist? Filling their own people with fear by using “terrorist” scare tactics in order to line their own pockets with money and power? What do we do to counteract their attacks?
The American public has fallen prey to apathy, and in doing so have left all major change to the Politicians. I have heard “I’m just not a politics kind of person” more times than I can count. However, what we seem to be missing is, we are all “political” people in that, all the decisions that our Government makes, directly effect each and ever one of us. We have come to believe that only the new president is going to be the one to bring change, but we must remember whenever there has been major change in our past, it is the people that bring it about. The Boston Tea Party and the Civil Rights Movement are both examples of when the people declared that they have had enough. The 60’s were known for marches, sit-ins and protests. We did not depend on our political parties for change; we knew that we were the instigators for the change that we wanted. As Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
There are actions that we can take, we can write and call our senators and other Government officials. We can protest and have sit-ins. We can vote and talk about what is going on. Information is power, writing is power. The most important thing that we can do is to not be quiet about our rights being taken away from us in the name of “safety.” We must act. We must defend our constitution.
AM New York July 11, 2008 // Issue 133 // Volume 6