Wiretapping: This was no time for a compromise

Summary:Democrats in Congress have arrived at a compromise on legislation that will allow warrantless wiretaps on U.S.

Democrats in Congress have arrived at a compromise on legislation that will allow warrantless wiretaps on U.S. citizens' telephone lines. In March, I covered the threats to privacy from this bill, which was pushed hard by the White House as essential to national security. Today, the Democrats caved in big time, handing the White House a victory at precisely the time when a lame-duck president, especially one this unpopular, should be having his hat handed to him as he leaves office.

“It is the result of compromise, and like any compromise is not perfect, but I believe it strikes a sound balance,” Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer told The New York Times.

Unfortunately, there is never a good time for a compromise on civil rights. We continue to buy the argument that terrorists are a threat so imminent that we must sacrifice basic privacy, when there is no evidence in the almost seven years since 9/11 that telephone taps have prevented attacks on U.S. soil.

The Democrats' position, that compromise was necessary, is unfounded. This bill opens the door wider to government intrusion into Americans' lives. It was an unnecessary and inappropriate compromise at a time when the country should be recovering its wits, instead of caving in to fearmongering arguments by an Administration that has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to lie to the public to achieve political goals.

Everyone involved in this "compromise" should be ashamed.

Topics: Mobility, Security, Telcos


Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran journalist, media executive and entrepreneur. He was editor of the ground-breaking Digital Media newsletter in the 1990s and a frequent contributor to ZDNet over the years. He led development of the first Web audio/video news network at ON24, sat on the board of Electric Classifieds Inc. and Match.com, and wor... Full Bio

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