Monday, March 03, 2008

Probable Cause

Kenneth Wainstein was on NPR today discussing the warrentless wiretapping bill currently stalled in the legislature. The man must be an excelent litigator, he never became distressed even when faced with difficult questions or confrontational or callers. The part of the interview that sent me into a patriotic rage was his explination as to why FISA is insufficient to aquire necessary intelligence on terrorists. Unfortunately no transcript of the interview is available currently but audio file of the show should be on NPR's website tonite. So I will be forced to paraphraze.

Mr. Wainstein explained that FISA is insufficient because it requires them to show probable cause. Showing probable cause to a judge requires expendature of manpower and time. Those intelligence analysts and lawyers could be doing other things.

So basically the justice department finds it inconvenient and cumbersome to deal with our justice system designed to protect innocent people from abuse of police power. Or in other words, the warrentless wiretapping bill, in its avoidance of probable cause, is designed to circumvent our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Or to put it another way the government wants the ability to spy on anyone with or without probable cause.

In discussions of this nature the question is often raised, "Why do you care?" or, "You should not have anything to worry about if you are not a criminal." These kinds of statements being based in a naive trust not just in the institution of government but in the individuals acting as agents of the government.

Honest, law abiding people have reason to fear not only of being wrongly accused by mistaken identity, beureucratic error, mistake from lazyness or stupidity, intentional framing by the real perpetrator of the terrorism, but we also have reason to fear simple corruption in the hourly employees of the various agencies handeling the information. For example, if you purchase anything over the internet, use internet banking, or speak about your financial information on the phone, you put your account numbers and pin numbers at risk of simple opportunistic theft by the employee handling your info.

For a real world example of things "going missing" after being handled by agents responsible for national security. boingboing

More pertinent article outlining other reasons to be conserned.

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