If They Violate Your Privacy in the Woods, Do You Make a Sound?
(If you are a man, and it is up to a woman…absolutely!)
So, if they violate your privacy in the woods, do you make a sound?
Not if you don’t know about it, according to Rep. Mike Rogers, who,
incredibly, is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. (Is this
another oxymoron like military intelligence, jumbo shrimp or
Mike Masnick writes at Techdirt about an amazing exchange between
Rogers and Prof. Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American
University. This exchange took place at the end of a Congressional
hearing on NSA surveillance. These are rarely going to be
enlightening, especially when they are public and broadcast on C-SPAN.
Everybody just wants to make their points for the camera. However, we
did learn something from this one, though, namely that Rep. Mike
Rogers really does not give a crap about your privacy and cares less,
if possible, about logic. It sounds like he is a proponent of Whatever
the government wants to do MUST be OK, because it is the government.
Big Brother knows best.
In what was intended as his wrap-up question, Rogers asked each of the
three panelists for a “quick yes or no answer” as to whether they
thought “the government should have the ability to try to find a nexus
between a foreign connection and a business record in the United
States that would indicate the identity of someone who may be working
with a terrorist organization.” Well, I think you don’t have to be a
lawyer to understand that this is not a “yes-or-no” question.
This is a classic example of arguing out of both sides of one’s mouth,
a systemic problem for politicians. If you say “yes,” you have just
said that you have no objections to giving the government the power to
do whatever it likes, as long as it claims to be looking for
terrorists. If you say “no,” you have just said that the government
should have no access to business records for that purpose, no matter
what the situation. Lawyers get criticized for saying “it depends” a
lot, but you know what? That is the only intelligent and honest answer
to some questions. Like this one.
Two of the three panelists didn’t give it.
Vladeck, who Masnick described as “the only panelist the entire day
who expressed concerns about what the NSA was doing,” did agree, but
with qualifications: “Unless there’s an easier way to do it, as long
as there’s enough protections, sure.” You know, that whole Fourth
Amendment concept. That pesky Constitution rears its ugly head again.
Rogers is apparently so tired of hearing about this “Fourth Amendment”
that he was not even willing to accept an allusion to it. Instead he
semi-attacked Vladeck with a remark about somebody who wished we had
one-armed economists because then they couldn’t keep saying “on the
Obviously Rogers views the world as black and white with no shades of
gray. Well, it’s like the death penalty, Vladeck responded,
pre-emptively noting that he didn’t mean this as a substantive analogy
between death and privacy violations. (It sounds like death to privacy
to me!) Many people support it in theory but aren’t willing to support
it if the process used to impose it is seriously flawed. Some would
recognize this as another allusion, this time to what was once called
“due process,” but Rogers is not one of those people.
He reminds me of many people who suffer from hardening of the
attitude. Their motto is “My mind is made up! Don’t confuse me with
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Mace J. Yampolsky is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, 625
South Sixth St., Las Vegas, NV 89101; He can be reached at: Phone
702-385-9777 or fax 702-385-300. His website is located at: