Look, we all know what a warrant is. Few of us have ever seen one in person, let alone been served. The point of a warrant is to ensure that law enforcement doesn’t just go on a fishing expedition when someone somewhere wants someone else punished (whether there is good basis in the law or not). Warrants, and a strict adherence to their lawful use, is one of the things which separates us from far too many countries around the globe. In short, warrants undergird the rule of law, protecting the innocent and ensuring that we err on the side of caution.
What the US Senate just did was to ignore the protections which the warranting process provides to normal citizens. Under the law, likely to be approved by His Excellency, no warrant is required to listen in on anyone’s phone calls, email or text messages–as long as the people doing the snooping are engaged in counter-terrorism activities. Anyone who thinks that such a law cannot and will not be massively abused needs to understand that the list of “terroristic” activities may now includes such things as purchase and storage of bulk food products. No, really.
We need to protect this country from terrorism. But the way in which we are going about it is insane. Our government simply cannot bring itself to label Major Hasan’s rampage as terrorism, yet at the same time buying a bunch of stuff at the Army Navy store will get us a visit from someone in the government who’s here to help?
Power to do good things (stop actual terrorism) must be kept in check or it will be used to do evil. It’s not the power, it’s the people and their sinful selves. Shame on the 73 senators who had the opportunity to allow an emotionally conceived and freedom-killing law sunset and did not do so.