On the eve of the United States Senate Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act vote, patriots who value their privacy and liberty are hoping for the best. Meanwhile my Republican rival, Jack Hoogendyk has publicly exposed himself to be an enemy of liberty and privacy.
On his “issues” page under “National Security” he writes: ” FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) is one of America’s most important tools in the war against terror. I support strengthening it. Carl Levin does not.”
For once I hope he’s right about Senator Levin (though his voting record is mixed), but Representative Hoogendyk’s position is clear. He will not only vote to continue FISA, he wants to make it worse! He is not only for it; he calls it, “…one of America’s most important tools in the war against terror.” I suppose he considers it more important than your natural right to privacy, or Constitutional restrictions on the reach of federal power.
FISA grants vast new warrant less eavesdropping powers to the executive branch. The USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress in 2001 and re-authorized in 2006, expanded FISA to allow the government to obtain the personal records of ordinary Americans from libraries and Internet Service Providers, even when they have no connection to terrorism. That means anyone (not just suspected terrorists) could fall victim to this law.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed an the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 6304) an unconstitutional surveillance bill that not only sanctions warrant less wiretapping and allows for the wide, sweeping collection of Americans’ communications, but also grants immunity to telecommunications companies for their role in domestic spying.
Now it is up to the Senate. There are probably a few readers who think FISA won’t affect them because they have done nothing wrong, but this thought brings with it the assumption that you are innocent until proven guilty. If Jack Hoogendyk had his way, you would be presumed guilty until proven innocent. Can you prove you didn’t do it?
On Hoogendyk’s issues page (Right above his comments on FISA), he writes, “I strongly oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to grant terrorists the same rights as American citizens. Carl Levin praised this decision as ‘an important victory.’ I believe it was a victory for terrorists.”
Here I presume Hoogendyk is referring to the case of Boumediene v. Bush in which the Supreme Court decided prisoners ACUSED of terrorism had a right to the habeas corpus under the United States Constitution and that the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006 was an unconstitutional suspension of that right.
His comment, “I believe it was a victory for terrorists.” Demonstrates a frightening ignorance of the United States Constitution, and the pre-constitutional concept of habeas corpus. So I will provide a quick tutorial on the topic for the benefit of Mr. Hoogendyk and those who agree with him.
Habeas Corpus is a 300-year-old type of legal action. This action, or writ, is the means by which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention of another person or him or herself. It has historically been an important instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary state action.
The United States Constitution refers to it in Article 1. There it says, ” The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.”
This was not a case of judicial activism. The court actually ruled as the Constitution said they should. Please note that this is not a right granted to “terrorists” (as Hoogendyk contends) this is a right granted to the accused to deal with “unlawful” detention. Furthermore the Supreme Court did not “grant” this right, they simply recognized its existence.
Bottom line Jack: There were no rights granted to terrorists here, and the Constitution only affords them the rights found in the eighth amendment, which reads: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”