What's the Big Deal About Government Spying?

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 27, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Abe Lincoln was the first to tap the telegraph wires to learn the comings and goings of Rebs and Northern sympathizers ["The Hightower Report," Jan. 20].
    Woodrow Wilson's government listened to all transatlantic cable talk. FDR did that, listened to radio and telephones and censored overseas mail.
    We still have our freedom. We are not enslaved. So what is the big deal?
John Thomas Jr.
Independence, Ore.
   [Jim Hightower responds: Oh, so anything short of being “enslaved “ is OK? Privacy rights are not about being a slave, but about not having government, corporations, or anyone snooping into your private life. The Bushites are running a broad, sweeping snoop program that does not merely focus on foreign calls from al Qaeda (they’ve shown that they don’t even know who al Qaeda is), but routinely spies on Quakers, ACLU groups, and others who oppose any number of Bush’s autocratic actions. The fact that Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR (and don’t forget Nixon) also ran sweeping spy operations doesn’t make it right, or constitutional – and it damned sure doesn’t mean that we citizens should turn to jello, meekly accepting the executive’s unilateral abrogation of our hard-won freedoms. Holy Thomas Paine – at least protest the thievery!]
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