By Wayne William Cipriano
Diane Feinstein, United States Senator from California, who, while sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee has never seen an instance of surveillance by the government of which she does not approve is now ranting about how her committee’s privacy has been violated by CIA, NSA, FBI or some other group of “snoops”.
Suddenly Senator Feinstein worries on the floor of the United States Senate how and when surveillance carried out by these groups should be authorized in advance and require search warrants and how their failure to secure same may indicate the need for greater monitoring of these agencies.
It is most disturbing, is it not, to hear a poor, powerless, uninformed United States Senator struggling in the depths of such confusion as to if and when privacy in the United States of America should be compromised.
Perhaps we can help her deal with the question. What about this: if you can see or hear (or smell or touch or feel) something while you are on public property, you do not need a warrant. If you have to go on private property to do so, you do need a warrant. Not that hard to understand, is it?
“What about more advanced surveillance like examining letters, diaries, telephone conversations, Internet messaging, etc. where the information is passed privately with no desire to tell the world?” sobs a befuddled United States Senator unable to secure direction.
We might suggest to her that if the permission of everyone involved in the communication is given, no warrant is needed; if some permission is withheld, get a warrant. Again, not that difficult.
In fact, why don’t we ask Senator Feinstein to guard all our privacy (and hers) by making it a crime to transmit any information any citizen may consider private and personal without that citizen’s prior unforced consent, denying the government the privilege we constitutionally bestow upon the press and each other? Some might consider this a giant stumbling block placed in the path of a government concerned only with the safety of its citizens. Others might consider this simply good manners.
And, what does this thundering quest for privacy mean to hide? After all, if you aren’t doing anything bad, what are you worried about? Well, bad is pretty elastic, isn’t it? There is the illegal and the horrendous that no one wishes to protect, and the laughably minor mistakes we would rather our mothers never discovered, they are all bad, right?
Some say the main purpose of government is to protect the lives of its citizens – and what better way to do that than to know every single piece of information that could, in any way at all, effect those lives?
Some say government’s purpose is to protect the freedom of its citizens and the Constitution of the United States of America that guarantees such freedom and, by the way, our privacy as well.
What do you say?