I’m listening to all your phone calls. And I know how many times you’ve logged on to “Girls Wrapped in Rubber” dot com. I mean, why not me? In what way am I less qualified to listen to all your phone calls and monitor your Internet activities than, say, Bush or Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales?True, I never managed the Texas Rangers baseball team nor have I been a White House counsel. Okay, you’re right; those other guys should have access to every detail of your private life. It would be more than a dichotomy if America was asserting itself as a warrior for “freedom” while simultaneously the same guys that launched that freedom program overseas were attempting to repeal privacy, one of the defining characteristics of a free and democratic society. Is that happening?Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold got a cool reception last week to his move to censure President Bush over domestic spying, even from other Democrats. On the other hand, a federal judge sent a strong message to Gonzales regarding Internet data in a decision denying a Justice Department demand for access to Internet search queries from Google. Nicole Wong, a lawyer for Google, said the ruling means “Neither the government nor anyone else has carte blanche when demanding data from Internet companies.”Unless of course, like identity thieves, they just take it. Maybe on a presumption that, as our President has said regarding phone surveillance, “Previous presidents have used the same Constitutional authority I have.” While all that has been hashed out in various interpretations of the “authority” the President actually has, I’m frankly more interested in what you think. Like you, I was sickened last week when a report on the bust of a global child porn ring included accounts of abuse of children as young as 18 months, often by their own parents. That bust yielded charges against 29 individuals after undercover officers infiltrated an Internet chat room. When you hear a story like this, do you care exactly how that “infiltration” takes place? Would concerns about entrapment and surveillance even enter your head?According to a poll by Harris Interactive conducted in February, 69 percent of respondents think their president is justified in authorizing wiretaps on U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism without court authorization. That’s great, as long we take everybody’s word for it that is what they’re up to. When the FBI spied on Martin Luther King Jr., I guess there were “security” concerns there as well, right?The Google ruling is a pretty big deal if you believe, as I do, that the Internet is basically a telephone with pictures and as such should afford you the same privacy as a telephone. But if your neighbor is downloading kiddie porn, are you good with giving up your own rights to bust him? Not to mention where that stops. Maybe I’d like a photo of Mary Carey, the porn “star” that dined with Bush last week. Will Internet surveillance classify my activities as surfing for porn? Will the President ask Carey about this at the next Republican fundraiser she attends? And may I please have a transcript of that private conversation?
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