Right to Privacy

January 15th, 2009

Terrorists are winning.  I’m not talking about another violent act of destruction, but the eroding of basic human rights by our government in their attempt to fight terrorists.  For example, how many rights were suspended by the US government at Guatanamo Bay?

Even though a right to privacy is not explicitly stated in the US Constitution, The Bill of Rights covers aspects of privacy (src).  Like many around the world, I believe the government does not have a right to get any and all information about its citizens.  US went too far with the Patriot Act (which allows the FBI and others to get personal private info on anyone in a super secret way without a warrants via NSL), and now the UK is going ever further.

Ben Franklin

As part of a European Commission directive, the Interception Modernisation Programme beginning on March 15 2009 states all internet service providers in the UK will be required by law to collect records on all internet traffic and every e-mail, to be stored in a national central database.  No warrants needed.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin, 1775

“Give me liberty or give me death” – Patrick Henry, 1775

Remember Hitler’s Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, which suspended all fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly, freedom from invasion of privacy (mail, telephone, telegram) and from house search without warrant.   Let us hope it doesn’t go that route.

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  1. January 16th, 2009 at 12:18 | #1

    Chad, I began writing a comment in response, but it got kind of long. So, I decided to write up my own blog post on the subject of privacy and liberty. Feel free to check it out at http://pickednits.wordpress.com.

    One thing I will take issue with here is your use of Guantanamo Bay as an example of our government eroding our rights. This is a common claim. However, it doesn’t really hold up. First of all, the people detained at Guantanamo are not US citizens, and therefore are not guaranteed the same rights as citizens are, under our Constitution. Second of all, they do no meet the traditional definition of an enemy soldier, and so are not automatically protected by any negotiated treaty. The decision to house them at Guantanamo was made so that they would not be automatically granted the rights that detainees would get in the US. Agree or disagree with that decision, but it is not an infringement on *our* rights as US citizens, nor is it a clear case of the suspension of anyone’s “human” rights.

  2. chad
    January 16th, 2009 at 21:07 | #2

    Mike – Thanks for playing.

    For Guatanamo Bay, I say they are humans and have human rights – I’m not claiming US Citizen rights or enemy soldier rights. In other words, the US Government suspended their human rights (through torture and holding indefinitely without charge, etc) in the name of fighting terrorists.

  3. chad
    January 16th, 2009 at 22:51 | #3
  4. January 17th, 2009 at 17:28 | #4

    Is the right to not be held without being charged a human right? Does that mean soldiers captured on the field of battle cannot be held without some case being brought against them in court? And on the torture thing, sure, you could say it’s a human right to not be tortured. I’d agree. But then you get into the argument about what torture really is? Is it simply physical pain? Is it fear? Is it significant discomfort? This is why torture has specific definitions, agreed upon in treaties. Are there specific, verifiable cases of the US employing methods that have been agreed upon as torture? You can’t just say, “Well, I think that’s torture,” and expect everyone to agree. It would be nice to know the *truth* about what’s gone on in Guantanamo, so that rational judgments could be made. I’d be right there condemning any actions that crossed the line, if I could get the real story.

  5. chad
    January 22nd, 2009 at 21:16 | #5

    Mike (aka mcc) –

    Yes, I think being held indefinitely against your will without a charge is a violation of rights – if not human rights, would you agree its a violation of rights? Soldiers captured on the field of battle is a different story – They are an actual threat. I’m not sure I understand your Guantanamo torture comments. I don’t see the point of debating the definition of torture. I mostly was referring to stuff like the following, from wikipedia

    “Washington has ignored human rights standards in its own treatment of terrorism suspects. It has refused to apply the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war from Afghanistan, and has misused the designation of ‘illegal combatant’ to apply to criminal suspects on U.S. soil.”

  1. January 16th, 2009 at 12:17 | #1