Friday, May 12, 2006

How long has this been a 'Constitutional Crisis'?

The Bush administration came clean this week and told us that they had been spying on us.

As you may remember, they had previously denied doing so, then said it was only international calls, then finally admitted it was all calls. Your calls, my calls, the calls of politicians, of reporters, of government officials, tens of millions of landline and cellular phone calls and probably our e-mail communications as well. Purely between Americans. They're all stored by a government agency in an attempt to "mine" that information for, they tell us again, “potential” ties between you and the terrorists. But don't worry, the president says, the government would never misuse the data they've collected on us.

Three telecommunications companies – AT&T, which recently changed its name from SBC, and is headquartered in San Antonio; and Verizon and BellSouth – apparently allowed the NSA to monitor all calls passing through their lines. One company, Qwest, declined to participate. They thought that it might be illegal.

Republicans expressed as much shock and outrage as Democrats. Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “We are approaching a constitutional confrontation.”

Well, if the Washington politicians had been paying attention a few months ago, they could have heard David Van Os say that. In fact, David was calling it a “Consitutional Crisis” even before Al Gore was. And in February, David challenged incumbent attorney general and corporate shill Greg Abbott to protect Texans against illegal federal wiretapping:

“I think this is a matter where the people of Texas have a right to know your views. They have a right to know if their elected attorney general views such important issues the same way Alberto Gonzales and George Bush do, or if he will stand by their fundamental rights to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into their personal phone calls.”

The Attorney General is given broad power in the Texas Constitution to bring marauding corporations to heel. He can file a lawsuit on behalf of all Texans restraining their activities which are in violation of the law. And every legal expert agrees that wiretapping without a warrant is against the law.

So is there anything can you do to prevent your government from continuing to spy on you? Sure is. First, contact AT&T and Verizon and BellSouth if you’re their customer and tell them to stop sharing your information with the feds. Second, call Greg Abbott’s office and ask him when he intends to do his job and demand that the big phone companies stop breaking the law.

And third, you can vote in November for an Attorney General who will fight to protect your civil rights from a federal government and big companies who want to keep taking them away.

Full disclosure (for those who weren't already aware): I am the statewide coordinator for the Van Os campaign.

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