Columns 2007

Whatever happened to our privacy?

Is it just me or does it seem to you that the only entity left with any privacy in this country is the government? For all the blathering about activist judges interpreting into the constitution rights that don’t exist, why is no one yelling about the rights to secrecy being claimed by our current administration that also don’t seem to appear in the Constitution?

The administration in Washington has once again slammed the door on an inquiry by Congress, this time into the destruction of interrogation tapes by the CIA. They say the Justice Department is investigating and handing over any more material will threaten our national security.

Ah, I wondered how long it would take for them to spit those words out. Our government shoves down our throats all manner of unimaginable personal invasions by invoking the words “national security.” And it protects every dirty little secret it might harbor with those same words.

So the trend seems to be that we get to strip practically naked to fly home for the holidays while they get to lock the door and throw away the key on any activities we, as citizens, might actually question.

The contradictions that this administration lives with on a daily basis would be enough to make a sane person crazy.

We are told that life is sacred but capital punishment is OK.

We are told that a woman has no right to the privacy of her womb but the government can’t provide health insurance because our Decider in Chief doesn’t want government interfering in the privacy a patient and her doctor need to make health care decisions.

We’re told that we must give up all dignity and privacy for the sake of national security but the government can keep all the secrets it wants because we, the electorate and our elected representatives in Washington, are clearly too dangerous to trust with that information. It doesn’t matter if the information relates to firing U.S. attorneys or possibly torturing detainees, it’s apparently none of our business.

The phrase, “Trust me. I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you” is a long-standing joke in this country. Yet isn’t that exactly what this administration is saying to us now? Trust us. We know what’s best for you but we can’t tell you what that is because “they” might find out.

At this point, I’m more worried about us than “them.” The current administration is slowly stripping away our privacy rights. We must give up phone records, bank records, e-mails, shoes and small vials of liquid hand washing soap to them. In return, they raise a wall of secrecy around their activities that makes the Great Wall of China seem small. All of which leads me to believe they have something to hide.

Our founding fathers drew up a constitution to protect the rights of citizens from their government. They’d had the experience of King George making them house soldiers, taking the winter supplies for the royal army, taxing them for foreign wars they didn’t support. And they said no, that’s not the way we want government to act.

So why do I feel like we are but one step away from that form of government now? Why does the refusal of this administration to admit to the oversight of the Congress seem like another step down a slippery slope that we’ve been on since 9/11? Why, in the name of all we as Americans hold near and dear, are we not up in arms screaming as our most basic rights are stripped from us and given to the federal government?

Well, I for one am now officially screaming. I’d suggest you start to do the same while you still have the right to scream without needing a government permit telling you the place and time in which you will be allowed one brief yell whose decibels and length will be strictly monitored.

You can do it now or you can look forward to a world in which your children can only dream of the days when being American meant being free.