News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Chi-Town Law School Professor Says Bush Surveillance Violated Constitution

Monday, January 02, 2006

Chi-Town Law School Professor Says Bush Surveillance Violated Constitution

Contrary to the feeling to take Peeper Bush out behind the wood shed and teach him a thing or two about spying on me and my significant other doing the two backed-beast, the NSA eavedropping issue will be decided in the courts. Lucky for Bush, I think.

At the University of Chicago Law Blog, two constitutional scholars have been duking it out over whether the Bush admin. broke any laws or betrayed the constitution's balance of powers. Prof. Cass Sunstein has marshaled some good arguments for the Bush side. [I linked to this in a previous post.]

When the story first broke, Prof. Geoffrey Stone logged his perception that the admin. had broken the law, but he never followed up on that posting. Today Stone posted the rest of his analysis of the legalities involved in this (hopefully) future legal battle. For Stone, the Bush admin's surveillance program violates the Fourth Amendment. ...

This is just the first part of Stone's analysis, so keep an eye out for the rest of it on the blog. In making his case against the Bush surveillance program, he quotes the relevant case in the controversey as being United States v. United States District Court (Keith), decided in 1972.

Providing the relevant passages from the ruling, I note the following quote that appears in the ruling:

"...History abundantly documents the tendency of Government - however benevolent and benign its motives - to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies. Fourth Amendment protections become the more necessary when the targets of official surveillance may be those suspected of unorthodoxy in their political beliefs. The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘[national] security.’”
Indeed, that is the problem in correct historical perspective and it just makes plain common sense. The abuses attendant upon a climate of suspicion can only bring abuse. Why the government suspects those who oppose its views is understandable enough; but when people get together and begin acting under the auspices of a faceless bureaucracy, they tend to lose their perspective as human beings.

In doing so, they then begin to treat others as less than human. Call it paranoia or cowardice--bureaucrats can only be trusted to protect their own interests, which they often obscenely begin to believe are the interests of everyone else. What's often frightening about this confusion of perspective is that in arguing for the legitimacy of their actions they appeal to the notion of self-interest itself--a social disposition we are all supposed to share and believe in.

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