Some Republican members of Congress were upset by this news. Senator Lindsey Graham remarked, Even in a time of war, you have to follow the process. Arlen Specter, Senate Judiciary Chair, called it, Inexcusableclearly and categorically wrong.
ACLU released FBI documents under the Freedom of Information Act which indicate the bureau expanded its definition of domestic terrorism to include war protestors. The NSA spied on the Baltimore Quaker-linked anti-war group, Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, and part of the national group, Iraq Pledge of Resistance, which is a group for non-violent resistance to the war in Iraq. NSA worked with the Baltimore Intelligence Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department. Documents released during litigation in an August 2004 case show that the group was closely monitored.
On the day of a demonstration at the National Vigilance Airplane Memorial on the NSA campus in Maryland, NSA filed reports on the group every 15 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:18 p.m. NSA collected the license numbers, descriptions and number of people in cars gathered in a church parking lot for the demonstration. Their travel to the demonstration was logged. A minivan was searched by a canine unit dog on the way to the demonstration. Nothing was found. Balloons being inflated for demonstration, and the contents of signs were reported on. NSA officials even reported on the balloons being inflated for the demonstration and the content of their signs. A July 4, 2004 by the agency said, The Soc. was advised the protestors were proceeding to the airplane memorial with three helium balloons attached to a banner that stated, Those Who Exchange Freedom for Security Deserve Neither, Will Ultimately Lose Both. Three protestors were arrested for disturbances on government property and released. The charges against them were dropped by a federal judge.
The NSA spied on demonstrators in Madison, Wisconsin on April 26, 2005. The demonstration was sponsored by the Student Labor Action Coalition and Stop the War. The organizers of a march on the UC Santa Cruz campus by 300 students were spied upon by the NSA. The Northern California groups of Code Pink and Raging Grannies were under surveillance by the NSA.
Unchecked Executive Power is Unconstitutional
What is the purpose of spying on anti-war demonstrators? Are those of us who are against the war in Iraq terrorist threats? I do not think so! We are patriots of this country. Dissent and standing up against the wrongs done by the government is part of American history. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the right to assemble. The use of warrantless wiretapping against people exercising their constitutional rights treads on those very rights.
President Bush claims that he has the authority to authorize wiretapping without warrants because we are in a time of war. However, the law says otherwise. If he truly wants to protect the American people against terrorism then he can simply obtain the needed warrants.
The framers of our constitution made sure that there is a system of checks and balances. President Bush has made it clear he does not want checks or balances on executive power. Whether you like his policies or not this is a threat to American values. The next president may not be someone whose policies you like, but if Bush is not held accountable he or she will most certainly possess unchecked executive power.
The press is supposed to serve two important functions: inform the public and provide a check on the government. New York Times has demonstrated that it did neither by sitting on the information (for a year) that President Bush authorized the NSA to spy on people without obtaining warrants. How can we trust corporate media when they are not willing to do their job? The sad truth is that we cannot trust corporate media, and must turn to alternative and independent media.
Keywords: political analysis, modern political analysis, political risk analysis, social justice, restorative justice
About the Author
Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Fresno, CA, USA
More Details about political analysis here. Gina-Marie Cheeseman is a freelance writer with a passion for social justice. She possesses a degree in journalism, and publishes an ezine that focuses on news and political analysis.