The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Democrats’ decision to extend wiretaps threatens freedom

In a country where we Americans take pride in our freedom and right to privacy, it doesn’t sit well with us when we hear that the Democrats have given in to the plan to expand wiretaps.

After two months of insisting they would try to limit eavesdropping powers won by the Bush Administration, 16 Democrats in the Senate are now willing to join with the Republicans to allow for the expansion of wiretapping to take place.

It is very unfortunate how they have gone back on their word, and this only lessens the faith of their supporters who place trust in them to maintain a liberal society. Because of this, President Bush will now be able to get the “okay” from Congress.

So why have the Democrats finally given into this, many may wonder. Well the answer is simple and kind of embarassing.

Although the Democrats are willing to disagree with the White House when it comes to the war in Iraq, they are nervous they will be called “soft on terrorism” if they insist on strict preventions on gathering intelligence.

With this Democratic bill being proposed on Tuesday, the House would allow the National Security Agency to eavesdrop as it was able to do previously in August for six months. This time it won’t be just for six months, maybe several years.

To make matters more unsettling, there is another proposal being drafted that may include retroactive immunity for telecommunications utilities that participated in the once-secret program to eavesdrop without court warrants.

Of course we citizens are willing to do all we can to prevent terrorism, but will we have to lose our privacy in the process? This is only giving the government more power than it deserves.

As mentioned previously, this bill to extend wiretapping was first enacted in August and it was known as the Protect America Act.

It was approved due to warnings from the administration that because of legal loopholes in wiretapping coverage the country was vulnerable to another terrorist attack. This enabled the National Security Agency to listen to foreign-based communications without court warrants. The most uncomfortable thing about this is, not many of us citizens knew about this act because it was secret.

The Democrats feel they aren’t fully giving in to this bill because this time they will put many more limitations and protections on it than those that were in the Protect America Act.

It is hard for us citizens to believe this when they didn’t even stand by their last word on preventing wiretaps. Do they really think we can trust them now?

The Democrats have made it so that the House bill would not give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications utilities that participated in the previous secret eavesdropping act. Well at least that can ease our minds a little, but still this is such an inconvenience.

The issue of immunity would be the main decision between the proposals that the House and Senate end up passing.

Either way the House Democrats have proven here that they are unable to take a stand. It’s all about principle. Because they fear they will be called “soft” on the issue of terrorism they follow the majority.

If this bill becomes enacted, we Americans will have the unsettling feeling every time we try to communicate with someone abroad, that the National Security Agency will be listening. It almost seems outlandish that they have reason to believe that the people we communicate with on a daily basis can be agents of a foreign power or a terrorist.

It is great that the government is trying its best to prevent future acts of terrorism. I commend them on staying on top of this issue and taking action. But how far are they willing to go, and is it worth it to lose our freedom in the process?

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

We love comments and feedback, but we ask that you please be respectful in your responses.
All The Torch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *