Monday, April 6, 2015


Journalism observed First Amendment Day in March (birthday of James Madison who wrote the Bill of Rights) with renewed calls for more open government at all levels

Obama campaigned on that theme but has often backtracked during office. His administration, in many ways, has been much more closed than previous ones, and has taken more reporters to court to try to force them to reveal sources than ever.

(Reporters are under fire in many nations, 20 are “missing” in Syria alone..but it hardly benefits a nation that prides itself on democracy that there are so many challenges to the practice of journalism and the First Amendment here.)

Perhaps the tide may be part because we now know a fraction of  just how much our government has been secretly snooping on us...on our phones and e mail,. And yes, on our regular postal mail itself.

Even conservatives are alarmed. Ky. Rep. Tom Massie, perhaps the most conservative member of our delegation, is co-sponsor of a bill (with a Democrat) to bar the federal government from a so called “back door” snooping into even more of our private electronic matters. The FBI and other agencies are after internet companies to build a “back door” into encrypted cell phones, e mails and other devices. Such a back door would let  the government listen in or read our words without us, or the companies knowing. Many firms have opposed this, but the government is after legislation in Congress to force them to set up such “back doors.”

The FBI says it will help them fight crime and terrorists. (Everything these days seems to help us fight terrorism, as a way of getting it passed!) The new FBI director asks if we “have become so distrustful of government that we are willing to let the bad guys walk away?”  Yes, because the government thru its own actions over the last decade has proven it is not worthy of our trust.

The Patriot Act, totally misnamed, was passed by a Congress fearful after 9/11 and loaded with activities that have seriously infringed on our traditional liberties. It is up for renewal this year and should be seriously overhauled and amended.

Rep. Massie’s bill is needed..but it’s  just one of many things needed to redress the excesses of the so-called Patriot Act. Let’s hope it passes.

I'm just sayin'...

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