The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 18, 2013

We started giving away our civil liberties years ago

By NEIL FRIEDER - Star Beacon Editor
Star Beacon

—  Politics is much about phonies.

And, it would be hard to beat Ohio’s own, Speaker of the House “Crying” John Boehner. Congressman Boehner of late has been leading the charge against President Obama because his Justice Department secretly examined two months worth of Associated Press cell phone records to find out who may have leaked a foiled terrorist attack.

Much of the print media has chided the president for indirectly or directly having something to do with this. The media should because it is an infringement on First Amendment press rights. The Star Beacon printed an editorial Friday against this press infringement.

In this country, the press is called the fourth estate, meaning that fourth branch of government acting as a watchdog on the other branches of government. Unlike the other branches of government, the people of the legit press are  not paid by the taxpayers. Their wages are solely paid for by the newspaper owners. Thus making them independent.

 Can you imagine a reporter taking money from local or county government and then reporting on that government. Or, spying on the inner workings of that newspaper for the government office that employs him? This sort of (or is that sordid) stuff happens. That is as much an abridgment of the First Amendment as perusing AP’s phone records.  

 But give me a break Mr. Speaker and a lot of the media. Not that I don’t think it was wrong seizing AP phone records. I find it highly detestable. But where have you been all these years while the government with Boehner often leading the charge has been destroying our civil liberties. Few people in the media and even fewer in government have raised the red flag.

 Here is a little of Crying John’s record on civil liberties:

—  Voted no on requiring Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants for wiretaps in United States. (March 2008;)

—  Voted yes on removing the need for FISA warrants for wiretapping abroad. (August 2007);

— Voted yes on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant (September 2006);

— Voted  yes on continuing intelligence gathering without civil oversight (April 2006); and

—  Almost to this day two years ago (May 19, 2011), Crying (are those tears real) John helped work out a deal to extend the dreaded Patriot Act for another four years. The Patriot Act, born out of the deadly terrorist bombings of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States, allows for EXTENSIVE  government intrusion into our personal lives. Boehner was one of its big supporters when it was first enacted under President George W. Bush. He obviously loves the idea of government spying on its citizens.

So why should it surprise anyone that AP’s phone records were raided. Civil liberties and the First Amendment have been under as sault for a long time. Heck, it was President Abraham Lincoln, who tried to do away with the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War.

 I have not seen any polling yet, but I wonder if the public really cares the government looked  at AP’s private cell phone records. Sadly, I doubt it because much of the public has ignored the growing loss of privacy in our daily lives. It’s been taken away from us by government and big business as they have covertly  intruded upon us.

 Yes, there have been some small victories in fighting this intrusion, such as about two years ago when the voters of the City of Ashtabula  told their city leaders to pull down those spy and speed cameras.

 Even though they are not specifically designed  to catch speeders there are cameras aimed at us every where we go. Some of them belong to government while others belong to private businesses.

 Most cell phones in use today can be tracked by satellite. So as long as you have your cell phone on the government and phone companies (is there a difference?)  can track our every movement, regardless if you are in a car, walking or bicycling.

 If you are using the Internet on your computer, government and private business can track what you are doing on the Internet. They know your health, your buying habits, your social life,  what you watch on TV, yada yada yada...

 And, soon coming to nearly every sky over every neighborhood will be drones to take spying on us to a new high.

 It is true, this is not “1984.” In 2013 we are far advanced of that Big Brother fictional era.

We have begun forfeiting the loss of privacy and civil rights because politicians like Crying John tell us it is to keep us secure... that is unless it is legislation from the other political party.

Frieder is editor of the Star Beacon and can be reached at nfeditor@suite224.net.