Monday, January 09, 2006

You Forgot to Dot an "I"-- In Triplicate

In an essay concerning FISA's 72 hour rule to obtain an emergency order to approve electronic surveillance, Pat Santy discusses the complexity of government rules, regulations, and paperwork and obtaining a timely, positive outcome.

"This was dramatically brought home to me as I was reading about the West Virginia mining tragedy yesterday. It is now known that the trapped miners were alive for at least 10 or more hours after the explosion that trapped them. Rescue workers did not get to them until 41 hours later. When asked to explain why it took so long, one official said that they were trying to follow the reams of state and federal government regulations about mine rescues which are in place to protect rescuers; and which prohibit going into the mine when it isn't completely safe."

I often argue against situational ethics, but that is in the areas of morality based activity. In the case of the mine tragedy, the situation called for actions by experienced, skilled miners, not the wisdom of OSHA bureaucrats. Perhaps the outcome would have not differed or even may have caused more injury or death, but we'll never know.

In much the same way, NSA surveillance that bypasses the FISA rules may save lives or may cause harm to someone's rights. The helpfulness or harmfulness of the 72 hours difference is something we may never know. The terrorist threat is certainly real and serious contravening measures are necessary.


Repack Rider said...

The terrorist threat is certainly real and serious contravening measures are necessary.

The threat to our civil liberties, using the threat of terrorism as an excuse, is even more serious.

Giving up liberties that brave people gave their lives to secure for us, merely because someone tries to scare us, is cowardice unworthy of patriotic Americans.

When did we becme such cowards that this is even being discussed? The "security" of a police state is far worse than the threat of terrorism.

While we're in the process of surrendering our civil rights in exchange for safety, should we give up the Second Amendment along with the Fourth? After all, gun ownership leads to far more deaths every year than terorism, so if safety at the expense of the Bill of Rights is your goal, why, let's give up our guns too.

Are Americans really the cowards that you are suggesting they are? Are you the kind of coward that would give up your rights in exchange for a PROMISE of safety? "Gee, let me trade my rights for your assurance that it's a good idea."

Or are you a courageous, patriotic American who sees the erosion of civil liberties as far more dangerous than terrorism?

You choose.

tee bee said...

Actually, gun ownership leads to more thwarted crime.

The "security" of a police state is far worse than the threat of terrorism.

Who has lost their liberty? How has a police state, in which personal liberty and activity are noticeably curtailed, been enacted?

If we weren't so steeped in a Watergate mentality, in which any government intelligence gathering is seen as corrupt and against the people, we might see this more clearly.

Most notably, this did not come to light because anyone experienced an infringement of their civil rights, but because somebody wrote a book using the NSA activity as the framework for their criticism of the Bush admin.

No other troubling charge has been levied, other than "that's not right!"

Steve said...

Exactly which civil rights have you forfeited by the NSA's electronic surveillance? 9/11 is a tangible effect of the terrorist threat. Do you have examples of something tangible to illustrate the threat by this particular action?

I can see a lot of civil rights that have been lost in other actions, but not so much this one.

This here is Trek country... perhaps if you switched bikes...

Al said...

"The Government will save us" is iffy proposition, at best. The Government can catch and prosecute - though, lately, that has degenerated into catch and release - or, in wartime, catch and/or execute... As long as it focuses it's attention on that goal.

Are we at war with al Qaida and it's allies? I believe we are. And it looks to me like the administration has learned a great many libertarian lessons from the experiences of its last dozen or so predecessors.

In another dozen we'll have the kind of anarchy we crave.