Liberty in Shambles

When British soldiers were roaming the American countryside in the 1760s with lawful search warrants with which they had authorized themselves to enter the private homes of colonists in order to search for government-issued stamps, Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The soul-searching became a revolution in thinking about the … Continue reading “Liberty in Shambles”

NSA Snooping on Americans Is Unconstitutional and Outrageous

The firestorm of media coverage over a whistleblower’s revelation — that the National Security Agency (NSA) likely has been monitoring the telephone calls of most Americans and is likely reading some Americans’ emails, photos, and other electronic data without a search warrant when trying to catch suspected terrorists (a program called “Prism”) — has become … Continue reading “NSA Snooping on Americans Is Unconstitutional and Outrageous”

Edward Snowden, American Hero

At the end of the eighteenth century, the laissez-faire-philosopher-turned-statist Jeremy Bentham devised a scheme for the design of a prison he called the Panopticon: a circular building at the center of which is a watchtower made of glass from which it is possible to observe the inmates at all times. If we look at America … Continue reading “Edward Snowden, American Hero”

Government Spying: Should We Be Shocked?

Last week we saw dramatic new evidence of illegal government surveillance of our telephone calls, and of the National Security Agency’s deep penetration into American companies such as Facebook and Microsoft to spy on us. The media seemed shocked. Many of us are not so surprised. Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with … Continue reading “Government Spying: Should We Be Shocked?”

Miscarriages of Justice

Sometimes, when you watch the strange, repetitive political dance that swirls around the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — the president announcing yet again that he plans to “close” it and the Republicans in Congress swearing that they won’t let him — it’s hard not to wonder what alternative universe we live in. The … Continue reading “Miscarriages of Justice”

An Open Letter to Dianne Feinstein, Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee

Dear Senator Feinstein: On Thursday, when you responded to news about massive ongoing surveillance of phone records of people in the United States, you slipped past the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. As the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you seem to be in the habit of treating the Bill of Rights as merely … Continue reading “An Open Letter to Dianne Feinstein, Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee”

Police-State ‘Progressivism’

The bombshell dropped by Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian has exploded any pretenses to being the linchpin of American liberalism Barack Obama may have retained until this point. In a story that broke yesterday [Wednesday, June 5], Greenwald revealed that the US government has been spying not just on targeted alleged “terrorists,” but on each … Continue reading “Police-State ‘Progressivism’”

What if Laws Applied to Everyone?

What if government officials have written laws that apply only to us and not to them? What if we gave them the power to protect our freedoms and our safety and they used that power to trick and trap some of us? What if government officials broke the laws we hired them to enforce? What … Continue reading “What if Laws Applied to Everyone?”

Our Civil Liberties, RIP

Amidst all the justified outrage over the apparent targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups by the IRS, not to mention the Associated Press phone tapping brouhaha, an important point is being lost: this is nothing new. The Tea Partiers may be shocked – shocked! – that the Big Government they have spent the last … Continue reading “Our Civil Liberties, RIP”

Liberty in the Age of Terrorism

The Boston Marathon bombing, horrific in and of itself, is made far worse by our response to it. For one thing, hate is on the march. Listen here to the conversation between a Washington, D.C. cabbie – a Muslim from Somalia – and his crazed passenger, who rants that the Koran mandates death for unbelievers … Continue reading “Liberty in the Age of Terrorism”