Fighting terrorists and predators or assaulting the Constitution? |

Fighting terrorists and predators or assaulting the Constitution?

The Bush administration has taken its war on terror into our homes ” and that’s just too far.

The administration’s latest warrantless incursion into your private life involves the Internet and e-mail. The Justice Department has been pressuring Internet service providers such as Yahoo!, Google and America Online to hold on to your e-mail for as long as two years so it can electronically sift through them for suspect activities.

It’s not that the government shouldn’t be fighting terrorism and stopping child pornography, both of which have been used to justify the e-mail grab. In fact, government should do everything it can to stamp out both of those evils ” but within limits.

And the Bill of Rights clearly lays out those limits in the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment, which sets clear rules on what the government must do before it conducts a search of private property, is under attack with this latest proposal. The amendment reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

If the government has unlimited access to your electronic “papers and effects,” how secure are you “against unreasonable searches and seizure?”

This plan to intercept and search through everyone’s e-mail with computer programs designed to look for suspect phrases seems to be a clear infringement of our Fourth Amendment protection. There is nothing reasonable about the Bush administration’s plan to seize and search everyone’s personal electronic communications without probable cause and a warrant.

Protecting Americans from terrorists and children from predators is the job of the government, but not at the cost of the basic constitutional freedoms ” the right to worship, to speak freely, to bear arms, to petition government, to equal protection under the law ” that define us as a nation.

Congress and the courts must do everything in their power to protect the country from the Bush administration’s latest assault on the Constitution.

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