Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"I'm All Ears"

The so-called "warrantless wiretapping" program is one of the most controversial steps taken by the Bush administration in its so-called War on Terror. The Bush White House has said that the wiretaps are necessary in these "perilous times" and that national security and the preservation of state secrets are reason enough to justify the program. Candidate Obama denounced the program and said the program was "illegal", but as a senator Obama also voted to protect phone companies that complied with Bush's requests for phone records and that granted the administration easier access to intercept private phone calls.

Read the attached New York Times story by clicking on the title of this post. Or listen to the On the Media clip below. Ask yourself: Should the government have the right to listen in on private phone calls WITHOUT establishing probable cause? What dangers might result from such a program?

18 comments:

maddie hilbrant said...

This is such a controversial topic. I think its 100% unfair for the government to listen in on private phone calls without a warrant or probable cause. I think that a part of being a U.S. Citizen is having your rights and everybody is entitled to their privacy. Somebody could be "accidentally" accused or falsely accused and arrested because of something that was heard in a phone call. If the government has the right to listen in on private phone calls without a probable cause, then we as U.S. Citizens are entitled to have the right to say that they cannot do that.

Matt H said...

There's no doubt that there should be a warrant. You need a justified cause to listen in a private conversation. Can policemen just walk right into your house unannounced? No. They can't. They need to get a search warrant. Same thing with the illegal wire taps.

Jillian F said...

I agree with everyone above, I think that there is no justification for tapping in to your phone records, unless you have a warrant. There are limits to how far you go, even in a war. I think that tapping into someones phone record just because you had a feeling that they could be doing something dangerous. It is hard to tell if someone is actually dangerous or not, and how do you know for sure? Wire tapping is not the answer and if anything will just make things worse, because citizens would rebel.

Frettzilla said...

i think that the government should be able to listen in on coversations. i believe that the government isnt stupid and would probably not wrongly accuse somebody. having the government listen in on conversations may be what people think is against their civil liberties but it would also save lives. listening in could stop terrorist acts and prevent future ones.

Claire S. said...

I believe that the government has the right to listen in on conversations to a certain extent. They should only be able to listen in on a conversation if they have a warrant. People have rights and if there is no warrant, they should not be able to listen in on a phone conversation.

Danny M said...

I think that if the government has a sufficient reason to intercept a private call, then they should be able to do that. I understand that we are losing a right of privacy to some degree, but that is something that I am willing to give up in order to be safe. In my opinion that is a very small price to pay in order to keep America safe.

Kate H said...

This topic always makes me think if they were listening to my phone calls what info would they gather from my conversations. I have to say that when i first heard about it I thought what an invasion of privacy but then if they were listening to a conversation of some one who could be very dangerous then i am all for it!

Kelly said...

I think that it is absolutely unfair and ridiculous for the government to listen to peoples private phone conversations, especially without probable cause. There are some things that people want to keep private and don’t want anyone to know except for the person they are telling on the phone. The government has no reason going into other people’s business. It could also be a major problem because someone may joke around with someone else about a serious topic within the nation or government and then the government will take it to the next step and do something to people on the phone. If the government only listened to conversations that they knew was going to reveal information that could be helpful for government use, then it is not as bad.

Alex said...

I think that the government should not be able to listen in on peoples phone calls without having probable cause. Being a US citizen entitles privacy rights and if the government is listening in on someone’s private phone calls, without probable cause, then you have been denied those rights. However, during perilous times, the government has the right to listen in on telephone conversations only if they have probable cause.

andrea said...

I agree with what claire brought up and many others agreed with, without probable cause, I think it is an invasion of privacy and illegal as well. Like what matt said, a policeman cant just walk in your house because they feel like it, they need a warrant. I think the same should go for this wiretapping program. I talked to one of my friends about this and she said, "why would the person care if they have nothing to hide?" What do you guys think about that? Personally I think that this wiretapping program would be a good idea to help national security, however it is the warrantless part that i have a problem with.

DannyE said...

This is a very controversial issue. One of the "fundamental" rights that all Americans hold is the right to privacy. If I found out that my phone was being tapped without a warrant, I would feel that my rights had been violated. Then again, the government probably isn't tapping that many people. Good Find.

Adam said...

I think that our government should not be able to just listen right in on a phone conversation. Though if they are investigating something suspicious, they should be able to listen in on calls if need be. Similar to a police officer, don't government officials need warrants to tap a phone line? Like any warrant situation, I feel you need "probable cause." Though what exactly is probable cause? I think in past years/cases, government officials have been able to get warrants without real/credible propable cause. I feel somewhat like a hippocrit commenting on this post. I would be upset if I discovered someone was listening in on my phone conversations. At the same time, I think if it is for the safety of our country, it might be ok.

Carrie F. said...

Look, I get why people might think that it's okay to tap your phone if there is a probable cause. I personally don't think that wire-tapping is okay without a warrant, but who is to decide what is a good cause to tap if there is no warrant? During the early stages of the patriot act, John Ashcroft and associates tapped the phones of abortion doctors. That's right, abortion doctors. Abortion doctors that were making no calls outside of the US (which is apparently a probable cause).
I mean, if the government were actually tapping for a purpose and not abusing their powers to tap by committing the above, or similar, it wouldn't be a huge deal to me. However, it is the people executing the tapping, rather than the cause of trying to find terrorists, that grinds my gears about the patriot act.

Kimber said...

Obviously this is a very controversial topic and needs to be viewed in the light of our up coming project "Civil Liberties during Perilous Times." Now that terrorism has jeopardized our freedom, I believe that the government should monitor phone calls and emails in order to try to identify and apprehend terrorists. My hope would be that this would prevent further tragedies such as the World Trade Center and the most recent attacks in Mumbai, India.

andrea said...

I agree with what Kimber said, that the goal of the government should be to prevent further tragedies such as attacks that have occurred. I don't understand why the government would need to involve itself in useless things such as tapping onto phones when they have no reason to do so. If there is a suspicion that something or someone might jeopardize national security, i would hope the government would take any measures necessary to keep our country safe. I would hope that this would be the reasoning behind the wire tapping, otherwise, I find it stupid and useless.

Boris P said...

The government should not be able to listen to any phone conversation that they choose. If there is probable cause then it would be ok to wiretap. Otherwise this is a gross violation of our constitutional rights. There are quite a few dangers that arise from misuse of wiretapping. The people who are allowed to listen to the conversations could begin to abuse the system and start to listen to conversations that have nothing to do with national security. They may start to try to get information on people for personal use or blackmail. This would cause massive trouble for citizens.

Julia said...

I think that this is crazy! I dont think that the government has the right to be able to listen to our phone calls and what we say. I think that it is an invasion of our privacy and definitely limiting our civil liberties. We have the right to freedom of speech, so we are allowed to say what we want to say and no one should listen into our calls or get mad for whatever we say on them. I know that the government may want to help the country by listening in to our phone calls, but really, they are just causing more trouble for the US.

Matt B said...

I feel that "warrantless wiretapping" is not as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. Our Government is not eavesdropping on all of our phone calls, they are looking for key words that might identify a bomb threat. However, I do understand that there is a possibility that someone could end up hearing something and leaking it, but that could be fixed. If we force the people who are going to listen in on our conversations to sign a contract stating that everything they hear is confidential, and breaking the contract would have a huge penalty, then most of those problems would be solved. Also, I think that if someone heard that one person is cheating on his girlfriend, another attends therapy, a kid won his soccer game, that I think the Ravens are going to win the super bowl this year, and a terrorist is going to blow up the White House that "warrantless wiretapping" is ok. If an anonymous person hears some of your gossips and also hears the gossips of terrorists and saves us, how can you think wiretapping is a bad thing?