‘Domestic spying’ a misnomer


Yesterday and in days past, writers critical of the Bush Administration have dumped on these pages.

“Dump” is the operative word as their crock is a pile.

The latest round of feldercarb complains about goose-stepping administrative officials seeking to intrude on your conversation to Aunt Tilly in Paris. It would be laughable if the ramifications of these tirades weren’t so deadly.

The term being used to label this activity is “domestic spying.” This label is a misnomer. Surveillance of calls that extend outside of our national boundaries is international and not domestic.

I suspect that the types of surveillance being performed are predominantly passive. That is, it is done through the use of electronic equipment that scans randomly for key words and voice prints of known terrorists. As the focus is narrowed either by profiling (this isn’t a dirty word), active monitoring is performed.

The government does not have sufficient resources, nor is there practical benefit from actively listening to random international phone calls. So the people that would be available to perform this active review have to be strategically allocated. Your concern about your call to Aunt Tilly being monitored only holds water if your voice print matches that of Zarqawi or bin Laden or if you happen to mention that you want to bomb or gas the bugs in your house.

The bottom line is that there are not sufficient resources within our government to listen in to your personal conversations without cause.

That aside, is this surveillance a violation of your Fourth- and Fifth-Amendment rights against unwarranted search and self-incrimination?

The Fifth Amendment argument only applies if the content of the unwarranted conversations were used in a criminal prosecution. This is not the goal of this surveillance. Rather, the goal is to stop lethal attacks before they happen not to prosecute them afterward when thousands have been killed. The Fourth Amendment applicability is unsettled legally. Katz vs. The United States settled the matter of domestic surveillance in criminal matters. It did not settle them in matters of national security.

“We recognize that domestic security surveillance may involve different policy and practical considerations from the surveillance of ‘ordinary crime….’ United States vs. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972)

Terrorists want to kill you, your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your baby, your grandmother, your grandfather, your dog and even your Aunt Tilly. They want to cut off your head and prance around in victory for doing so. The allowance for the type of surveillance President Bush has authorized (as did Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton) is designed not to entrap but to protect.

I thank the dear Lord for the men and women who serve to protect us. God bless the president, his staff, our soldiers in the field; and God bless the United States of America.

Richard C. Rowley

Sweet Home