Friday, May 12, 2006



The latest bogus debate between our Republican and Democratic leaders is over the supposed Freedom to Phone. This is not a phone debate, it’s a phony one. There is no phone privacy right written into our Constitution or any where else for that matter. And, more to the point, thanks to the wonders of electronics, it could never be.

Simply stated, the Founding Fathers lacked access to a cell, satellite or any other derivative of Mr. Bell’s miraculous invention. Hence, they had no reason to incorporate Freedom to Phone in the Bill of Rights, or any other of the country’s foundation documents. And, even if they had considered the issue, one can assume that the founders and protectors of our liberties, who dealt with practicalities and realities, would likely have seen the issue not as one of a personal right to make a private phone call, but rather one of full disclosure that there can be no such thing.

Yes, folks, when you pick up a phone – any phone- you’ve got to expect that someone – in fact possibly many someones- may be listening. This is the message your representatives in Congress should be telling you.

And the people listening could not only be one of a number of secret U.S. intelligence agencies, with the National Security Agency heading the list. The NSA was established via a super secret order by President Truman and, under a legal framework, can listen in on signals everywhere and anywhere.

But what all must understand, as communications signals travel through the air via satellites, microwaves, cellular nodes, WIFI, VOIP, and any number of other transmission paths that are regularly being developed, various governments other than the U.S. may be listening in. These, of course, include the Russians and Chinese, who operate two of the world’s largest listening posts that happen to be located in Cuba, plus the Brits, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders (in joint operations with the U.S., formerly called ECHELON), and could also involve the French, Germans, Israelis and Japanese, and others who have the satellite and related capabilities to operate extensive signit (that is, signal intelligence) covert facilities.

So, what does this mean? It’s quite simple. There can be no guarantee of privacy- none- when using a public telephone network. No one can know who may be listening in, whether in Fort Meade, Maryland (home to NSA), Moscow, Beijing, London or any other number of places.

And the same is true of the Internet. Bits and bytes of data also travel through the air and can be easily intercepted, recorded, catalogued, analyzed and reviewed.

If you want to use a phone or Internet to communicate some confidential information, you had better use some form of encryption - a personal code system- that only you and the other party can access. That’s life in the 21st Century.

And public opinion poll results released this week show that a majority of Americans have no problem with these new realities. Specifically, 66 percent of those interviewed said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made.


Here we go again!

Since its adoption over two centuries ago, the US Constitution has provided shade for the strict constructionists, the deconstructionists, the sacred document theorists, etc. ad nauseam. All knew what was in the Founders' minds. Here it is again. There is no privacy right because, a) it is not stated in the Constitution, and b) dealing a blow to the sainthood bestowed on those very human men, they didn't foresee the telephone!

SMITH is factually correct...of course these men did not see what and where Ben Franklin's kite would lead, and their experience would have probably led to agreeing with the NSA programs, including ECHELON, that once super-secret NSA venture, which corrupted international relations with allies and enemies alike.

Were we to be able to experience life in our country in the 18th century, we would have found spying more than a cottage industry. It was a requirement of the undeclared war being waged by the colonists, Tories aside. Later, as the move west gained momentum, we have the U.S. Cavalry Scouts reading the smoke signals of the beleaguered Indians. No court decision exists on the question (the Indians had no Standing), but the newspapers of the time do not allude to the practice, but just state that "111 Sioux wiped out at Mt. Wherever" and the ambush worked because the smoke signals had been tapped.

If the privacy issue is to be brought within the purview of the Constitution as written, it can only be by attributing intent to the Founders.

Aside from Franklin's brush with electricity and Jefferson's
abilities with many practical sciences such as architecture,
land management, animal husbandry , etc., the Founders
would today be called humanists, deeply steeped in the
literature of the day and the classics back to the Greek
scholars. They were students of the "human condition,"
the sodium/water mixture of animal/spirit. They were familiar
with the Archimedean Pendulum, and did not believe
regimes lasted forever, but were finite.

Their goal was to establish principles to protect man from
his predilections, which lead him to abuse and enslave
his fellow man.
Privacy and phone calls? One could probably make some cogent arguments on the "if they had known, they would have" ground, but mankind itself then speaks out. SMITH notes the percentage of Americans, who either do not care or willingly would give up phone privacy for ostensible security.

The real question is : what liberties are Americans prepared to die for?

With 6.5bn souls presently on our wee orb and we being 300M or say, 4+%, of the world humankind, I would not vote against the American people voting for giving up substantive rights.


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