Friday, January 05, 2007

Government Claims the Right to Open Your Mail

As if the civil rights violations under the Patriot Act aren't good enough, it's being reported that "A statement attached to postal legislation by President Bush last month may have opened the way for the government to open mail without a warrant."

Oh good. We're one step closer to Ayn Rand's world of Anthem or George Orwell's 1984. I always fancied living in such a grey, homogenous world and I've often thought that the benefits of Goose-stepping were underrated. I hear it's great exercise! Pilates will be a thing of the past.

I hope that the government will at least do us the favor of publishing a Newspeak Directory, so that we won't run afoul of Big Brother.

In 1934, Ayn Rand wrote:

"Social gains," "social aims," "social objectives" have become the daily bromides of our language. The necessity of a social justification for all activities and all existence is now taken for granted. There is no proposal outrageous enough but what its author can get a respectful hearing and approbation if he claims that in some undefined way it is for "the common good."

Ayn Rand was once the Goddess of the Republican Party. She was revered and loved. I'm sure that George Bush has never heard of her.

Ayn Rand continued:

"Some might think -- though I don't -- that nine years ago there was some excuse for men not to see the direction in which the world was going. Today, the evidence is so blatant that no excuse can be claimed by anyone any longer. Those who refuse to see it now are neither blind nor innocent.

The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one's eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: "But I didn't mean this!"

I urge every one of you to read more of Ayn Rand's observations in the forward to her book Anthem, which is available online at the link I've posted.

Then I urge you to write to your Congressmen and women, and to every other government official that you can think of. You might want to use email, because obviously the mail can be tampered with.

But... Email is next.


Ed Abbey said...

I wrote about this on my blog today too. Here is an excerpt of Bush's bill signing statement and an excerpt from the law he was "re-interpreting."

Bush wrote: "The executive branch shall construe subsection 404(c) of title 39, as enacted by subsection 1010(e) of the Act, which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection, in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances, such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials, and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection."

What the law said (emphasis mine): "(c) The Postal Service shall maintain one or more classes of mail for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection. The rate for each such class shall be uniform throughout the United States, its territories, and possessions. One such class shall provide for the most expeditious handling and transportation afforded mail matter by the Postal Service. No letter of such a class of domestic origin shall be opened except under authority of a search warrant authorized by law, or by an officer or employee of the Postal Service for the sole purpose of determining an address at which the letter can be delivered, or pursuant to the authorization of the addressee."

The Lazy Iguana said...

What good will it do to write congress? Congress did not write the signing statement. Bush did. Or at least, someone was telling him what to write. I do not think he could come up with that statement all on his own.

Bush has pushed the power of the executive branch to all new highs. The Republicans did the same thing in Congress when they held the majority. For example, the chairman of the judiciary committee can issue subpoenas as he/she sees fit. This was a Clinton Era Republican rule change, designed for the sole purpose of conducting kangaroo court. Before the change it took more than one person.

And now that the Democrats have the house and have that new power - the Republicans made a last minute desperation play to go back to the way it was before. They failed. I hope that the Democrats use ALL the power that the Republicans created for themselves in the next 2 years just to make a point. It was a bad idea.

And for all the good little goose-stepping GOP supporters out there - one day there will be a (ghasp) DEMOCRAT back in the White House. And he/she/it will have all that power that BUSH created for himself. And if the congress is also Democrat held, the minority party will be pushed into the corner and forced to eat dinner at the kids table. Think about that.

Matt said...

From television last weekend, I know that the president might often be actually above the law.

Richard Nixon actually said the president WAS above the law. it's in the tapes!

United We Lay said...

And still, no one is outraged. People are concerned, but no one is actually going to try and do anything about it. I've written my federal officials, but I don't believe they really listen to us anymore, unless it'll REALLY hurt their PR. We are living in the silent era. Horrible things happen when the people don't speak. It's time to wake up.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Of course nobody is going to do anything. That is why Bush can get away with it. You expect me to turn off American Idol and what?!?! Write a letter? And then mail it off? Are you serious? Ill have to like, find some paper and stuff! What a hassle!

No, things in the USA have been too good for too long. The population is complacent. We are all like that fat guy who goes to sleep whenever he sits in a chair. Do not bother me - for I am napping. If you wake me up, you had BETTER tell me that you have more fried chicken.

Now if Bush had made a signing statement saying that I-Pods are illegal to own - all hell would break loose. Because THAT would intrude into our comfort zone.

You wonder how nations change from a free society to a police state? How do the people allow that to happen? How did the German people just allow Hitler to write himself unlimited power (before Hitler Germany was a democracy with elections and stuff - very similar to France, the UK, and America as far as personal freedom went)?

Complacency. I am not saying Bush is Hitler here. I am saying that if the government is allowed to limit our freedom it is our own fault for not acting.

Why can Bush get away with it? Ask your neighbor. Ask people who can tell you the final scores of the past 20 Super Bowl games but can not tell you anything else. Ask those who say that questioning the government right now is wrong, for we are at "war" and therefore must pledge blind obedience to the President. Like a good citizen of the former Soviet Union had to do.

Maybe what America needs to get the people more involved in the process is a dictator. Maybe we need to loose all our liberties for a few years. Maybe we deserve a police state where you can not fart without authorization from the gas police. Maybe we need to have people run down in Times Square by government tanks for protesting the lack of free elections.

Then people would care again when we got it all back.

daveawayfromhome said...

Of course, then it might be too late. Question: If you leave now for a country that doesnt look like it's about to slide into despotism, are you a rat fleeing a sinking ship, or merely prudent? Is it better to be a live dog, or a dead lion?

Miss Cellania said...

The problem is that "Give me liberty or give me death" has been replaced with Homeland Security. As far as our precious civil liberties go, we are accelerating down the slippery slope. I hope the democrats do NOT use the new executive powers that have come into play for revenge, I hope they take pains to curb those powers.

Senor Caiman said...


If the President or for that matter anybody wants to have all my credit card applications more power to them.

Excellent post.

mal said...

Junior is scaring the !#$@ out of every day. He does NOT get it. He can not make us safe.

Sadly, he is no where near as bright as his pappy. He proves the adage that the apple some times falls a long way from the tree.

I only hope that the Supreme Court has not completely lost their minds. They have become a bit worrisome since O'Connor retired

Be afraid citizens, VERY afraid

Badoozie said...

does my ass look fat in these pants?

~Deb said...

The fact is, email has always been tampered with. If you think your messages and letters through cyberspace are safe....think again. Even in my office, they scan messages and have a "company watch dog" to see if your messages are 'okay'.

If it's not enough to drive you batty----my mother who lives in the apartment below opens all my mail that comes in. So when I see a letter that has been opened, she just looks at me and says, "Oh, I thought it was mine." We may have the same last name, but the fact that she's so God damn nosey makes me cringe.

God bless!

Jamie Dawn said...

They are FREE to open my bills as long as they PAY them when they do. :)

The Pat Robertson post is funny and sad at the same time. Pat, please shut up!

The Lazy Iguana said...

Hey Saur, I have a great idea!

As you know, I have access to the byproducts created by 4 cats. You have three dogs and two weasels. So how about this.

I mail you a weeks worth of goodies. You open the box and add your weeks worth of goodies.

Then we play mail ping pong. when I get the box Ill sit on it for a few days then mail it back.

We can send each other emails like "yo spike, I got the motts. I will add some pumpkin spice to it and send it back". And so on.

How long before someone opens that?

Emma Sometimes said...

I have a feeling that stool samples are going to become less common in the USPS. Terrorist have to poop you know.

on another note, I don't consider anything I do private anymore, everyone wants freedom, but it'll always come at a price. We just have to figure what price is worth the privacies we give up.

They can already warrant safe deposit boxes, email, medical records, homes, employment records, IRS records, why is this such a big deal?

The Lazy Iguana said...

The big deal is the word "warrant". Bush wants to do stuff without going through the courts. Even in cases where the government can act now and get the warrant later - Bush still wants to forgo the process.

Getting a warrant allows the courts to oversee what is going on. To get one, the government has to provide proof. Our legal system is based on "innocent till proven guilty". This is the reasoning. In FISA cases where the government can act now - but they still have to go to the FISA court within 24 or 48 hours or whatever if they want to continue the search.

If we are going to just give up warrants and allow searches because "they can do it anyway" then why have trials? Why not just assume that if the government accuses you of being guilty you must actually be guilty? Why not have people on trial prove their innocence?

This is the problem. No, the government does NOT have unlimited power. They can not just do whatever they want and ignore the law in the process. Just as we the peons must obey the law or got to jail, so must they.

For now anyway. Bush still has 2 years to change all that.

The big deal is "where does this all end". Once we loose a freedom, it is VERY HARD to get it back.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I heard about this as well.

Very, very scary!

Emma Sometimes said...

the government has a lot of power already telling me how to raise my kids, what fodder they can teach them in school, what to send agencies in taxes, who not to kill, you know, the usual. Nothing is free, and I say, I'm not doing anything wrong and therefore I don't care. How's that for all-American.

perhaps I should quote the great badoozie instead, "does my ass look fat in these pants?"

Meow said...

Hey Saur, just dropping by to say HI. Hope your new year went well, and that 2007 is treating you wonderfully so far.
Take care, hugs, Meow

Saur♥Kraut said...

Meow, thanks, honey. You too! I'll pop over soon.

Everyone, Lazy Iguana said it so well, I can't really say it better. And I love his poop idea. Perhaps we can form a Poop Brigade.

Barbara, I know.

Emma & Jamie Dawn, please see what L.I. is saying. This should actually frighten anyone from the Christian Right. Do you remember the part in the Bible where Jesus says that we'll be persecuted in his name? Well, we've been lucky so far, but I wouldn't want to count on that luck forever. As the country grows more godless, do you really want the government to be able to start snooping into your business? What happens when Christianity is banned or Christians are prosecuted? The laws will still be in place, and you will be voiceless.

Deb, see above, but look to the gays in Nazi Germany as an example, instead. You are a gay Christian, so that's two areas of vulnerability for you. Not now, maybe, but "now" is only a temporary state of being.

Senor Caiman, really? Hope you don't mind when a postal worker decides to start charging with your new Visa.

Susie, nope.

Mal, UWL, & Miss C., 'zactly!

Daveawayfromhome, this is actually a question that I hear more frequently than I'd ever heard before in my entire life. And not just from hysterical celebrities, but from average joes. And now that Canada has agreed to extradite to the USA and Mexico hates Americans (unless their illegals can come here and send money home), we're S.O.L unless we want to take a boat to Cuba (which is still much worse by far!)

Matt, where did you see this? I'd be interested.

Ed, as you know, we see eye-to-eye on this.

Ed Abbey said...

Lazy Iguana - FISA gives Bush 72 hours until a warrant is equired.
See Here