Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's important about freedom?

By Carol Gee

























[links below to: Financial Times of London-FT, China Daily News-CD, International Herald Tribune-IHT]


Bill of Rights --

FISA - The recent dust-up (IHT) over Congress amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act raises fundamental questions of American citizens' freedom. What is our current standing with our government? How does the foreign press cover the story? [Note - the links (with abbreviations) in this post are to related stories in the foreign press only].

The administration's rhetoric claims (IHT) that our government is doing everything it can to protect us. So why do I - a "Liberal, a Progressive" - feel so unprotected right now? I do not believe it is about my politics. I believe it goes far beyond that.

How does the rhetoric match the behavior of those who govern us? Is there a disconnect that accounts for my discomfort? Do we effectively stand lower in priority than before the terrorists attacked the U.S. on 9/11/01? It would seem so. If one looks at the constitutional issues raised since that course-changing day, it would seem that it does not offer us the kind of protections of privacy (CD)to which we were originally entitled.

Entitled? Yes, I do have a sense of entitlement. It says I am entitled, right there on the parchment, long housed under glass for all of us to read. To what Bill of Rights protection/freedoms (IHT) am I entitled when the U.S government goes to war in my name? Where is the law that mandates that I give up so many rights just because we are at war? My perception of vulnerability must be because too many of our trusted Senators and Representatives voted with OCP (our current president) rather than the Constitution. They swore an oath to the Constitution, not George W. Bush.

Unreasonable? Is my individual need for certain freedoms unreasonable? No, it is not unreasonable, because it is written in the promises of the Constitution and the rulings of the courts, up to this point. It is not written in any signing statement of OCP.

Meanings? What does freedom or protection mean to me? It means I should be protected (IHT) from having the government spying on me without a court order (IHT) saying that they have probable cause to think I am breaking the law. It means that a free press has the right to keep me informed of what the government is doing. It means that my vote is protected from interference or fraud. It means I am free to read or write (CD) what I want as long at it is lawful.

Liberty? Why do I need liberty? I am over 21. I have my own bank account. I own property. I have a birth certificate and a driver's license. I crave liberty because I was born and raised in a Western state where country people were pretty much independent, though very cognizant about, and interested in current events at a state, national and international level. And my parents kept most of their promises to us.

Why am I a civil-libertarian? Promises are being broken, left and right. And those broken promises were important for me, for our family, my nieghbors, my fellow citizens, and for our neighbors in other countries (FT). We live in a civil society where lots of people fought and died for my liberties, my freedom, and my protection.

And so I am free to gripe. The Constitution entitles me to lament my losses.

(Cross-posted on 8/12/07 at South by Southwest.)

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