Spying on US too?

We keep hearing about the threat from Terrorists. We keep being told that the reason we are put through hell at the airports is to keep us safe. We keep hearing that the government needs to be able to freely monitor our phone calls, emails, internet usage all in the name of National Security.

Then there are truly brainwashed who sit there and tell those of us who don’t like living in a surveillance ridden society that if we had nothing to hide we shouldn’t be concerned.

Well, I have nothing to hide; BUT I am concerned. I’m a private person, I like my privacy. If I meet someone interesting and wanted to engage in a little phone or cyber erotica (hey, we all like a little dirty talk once in a while) with them, I want to feel that our exchange IS private. If I am angry about something the government has done (as with this bailout) and want to vent that anger verbally either on the phone to a friend or even right here on my own blog, and I want to feel safe that I’m not about to be labeled a “terrorist” for the “angry thoughts” I am spouting.

I just read in the Washington Post this morning about an anti-death penalty/anti-war group in Maryland that was spied on by some agencies and labeled “terrorists” for doing nothing wrong and for lawfully and peacefully wanting to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Spying Gone Awry

A covert surveillance operation in Maryland tramples on civil liberties.

Friday, October 10, 2008; Page A18

THOMAS E. HUTCHINS, the former Maryland state police superintendent, spoke about a covert operation that spied on harmless activists for the first time at a legislative hearing this week. Mr. Hutchins, who authorized the operation, didn’t provide new information about the spying program. But his spirited defense of the surveillance and his refusal to acknowledge serious missteps offers insight into the flawed mind-set that led to the operation’s creation.

Mr. Hutchins’s testimony followed the release of a report that depicts the spying operation in vivid detail. The surveillance started as an attempt to gather information about those protesting the death penalty. Spurred by the post-Sept. 11 frenzy to detect terrorist plots, it morphed into 14 months of spying, during which the state mistakenly labeled 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists. The 93-page report, compiled by former Maryland attorney general Stephen H. Sachs, concluded that the secret monitoring, which occurred from March 2005 to May 2006, “significantly overreached.” That’s a considerable understatement.

The monitoring started when a police commander requested information about whether the upcoming executions of two death row inmates would lead to unruly protests. Mr. Hutchins claimed that his men were not spying but monitoring “open public meetings.” He arrogantly asserted, “I don’t believe the First Amendment is any guarantee to those who wish to disrupt the government.” His story was incomplete, to say the least. In fact troopers used aliases to infiltrate organizational meetings, rallies and group e-mail lists, even though an early assessment of the “threat” posed by the death penalty protesters “did not identify any specific threat to public safety.”

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

Read the FULL STORY here, and be sure to read the report too.

I would suggest that Mr. Hutchins re-read the Declaration of Independence, which states that the people not only have the right BUT a duty to question their government.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Granted, we cannot, nor should we, go to this extreme over any/every little thing. Although I must admit to wondering why we haven’t over the past 7 years under this current administration that shows nothing but disdain for our Constitution and the Republic our founders bled and died to create.

The First Amendment also protects our right to question government.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So exactly what part of these two documents, that are the very basis and foundation of our country, does this Mr. Hutchins NOT understand?

This is just the beginning. The FBI now has new guidelines that basically allow exactly the same kind of thing that Mr. Hutchins did in Maryland.

New, Controversial FBI Guidelines Go Into Effect

WASHINGTON – US Attorney General Michael Mukasey has signed new guidelines for FBI operations he said are designed to better protect the country from terrorist attacks, but that raise concern of some lawmakers and civil rights groups.

[US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, seen here in July 2008, has signed new guidelines for FBI operations he said are designed to better protect the country from terrorist attacks, but that raise concern of some lawmakers and civil rights group (AFP/Getty Images/File/Chip Somodevilla)]US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, seen here in July 2008, has signed new guidelines for FBI operations he said are designed to better protect the country from terrorist attacks, but that raise concern of some lawmakers and civil rights group (AFP/Getty Images/File/Chip Somodevilla)

“These guidelines provide more uniform, clearer and simpler rules for the FBI operations … are designed to allow the FBI to become, among other things, a more flexible and adept collector of intelligence,” Mukasey and FBI director Robert Mueller said in a statement Friday.”Since the 9/11 attacks, the FBI and the Department of Justice more broadly have set priorities for and reorganized their activities to prevent future terrorist acts against the American people,” the statement said.

The new, revised regulations — the original version met strong criticism from congressional committees last month, comprise 50 pages dealing with five areas of FBI investigation, including criminal, national security and foreign intelligence.

Mukasey said most of the new, streamlined rules “will be available to the public … As a result, the general public will have access in a single document to the basic body of operating rules for the FBI’s activities.”

But despite Mukasey’s assurances that the new regulations “reflect consultation with Congress as well as privacy and civil liberties groups,” not all concerns over their effect on privacy rights were dispelled.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Democrat Patrick Leahy said the new guidelines expand the FBI’s powers of surveillance.

“It appears that with these guidelines, the attorney general is once again giving the FBI broad new powers to conduct surveillance and use other intrusive investigative techniques on Americans without requiring any indication of wrongdoing or any approval even from FBI supervisors,” Leahy said in a statement.

Read the FULL STORY here.

When you read about the new methods that the FBI will be allowed to use, you have to wonder if they fashioned it after the Maryland operation as they are similar.

The ACLU is all over this also.

As I said earlier, I have nothing to hide, but I want to retain my God-Given Right to express my opinions, thoughts, and yes anger in peaceful ways without worrying about the government labeling me as a terrorist.

You have to wonder what this administration is so worried about that they seem to have no problem shredding our Constitutional guarantees.

This is NOT the America I was born into, and I don’t like where I see this new Amerika (yes I deliberately misspelled it) going.

~ by swfreedomlover on October 10, 2008.

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