Editorial Roundup for Friday — December 30, 2005

• Federal wiretaps: Flouting the law?


Federal wiretaps: Flouting the law?

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., Dec. 21, 2005:

Many Americans, no doubt, wonder why members of Congress are making such a big deal about President Bush’s approval of wiretaps on suspected terrorists. A better question might be why the administration felt a need to flout the law. …

President Bush, of course, is not the first president to suspend civil liberties during wartime. Abraham Lincoln did so during the Civil War, and Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to imprison Japanese Americans during World War II is regarded as a dark chapter in our history. …

Many law-abiding citizens presume that police and military wouldn’t investigate anyone without reason. The obverse corollary is that if you haven’t done anything wrong, you need not worry about whether you are being spied upon. Nevertheless, the record shows that freedom is best served when no arm of government is above review by a disinterested authority, such as a judge.

Even if we believed that no federal agency would intentionally misuse materials obtained through unauthorized snooping, we would still worry about its ability to safe-guard sensitive information. …

The president acts as if his authority cannot be challenged as long as he invokes the “war on terrorism” mantra. Fortunately, more and more Americans are coming to understand how freedom also can threatened by the unbridled arrogance of their leaders.

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