Americans Say Civil Rights Violated

Two-thirds of Americans believe the FBI and other federal agencies are intruding on privacy rights as part of terrorism investigations, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Americans Say Civil Rights Violated
The majority of Americans believe the Bush administration is infringing on their privacy rights in the name of its so-called war on terror, as the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee vowed to put an end to the administration's trampling of civil liberties.

"I don't think you can view these polling results in isolation from an overall phenomenon, which is that people are more skeptical of the government's conduct of the war on terrorism," anti-terror expert Bruce Hoffman told the Washington Post.

Two-thirds of Americans believe the FBI and other federal agencies are intruding on privacy rights as part of terrorism investigations, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey cited a continued skepticism about whether the administration was adequately protecting privacy rights.

Compared to 2002 polls, twice as many stressed that the need to respect privacy outweighs the need to investigate terrorist threats.

Fifty-two percent of the 1,005 respondents favored Congressional hearings on the administration's handling of surveillance, detainees and other terrorism-related issues.

Hoffman, a professor in Georgetown University's Security Studies Program, said the poll results could spell trouble for the FBI and other government agencies in drumming up support for their expanded anti-terror powers.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, US President George W. Bush authorized spying on the country's main communications systems without court-approved warrants.

But a federal judge on August 17 halted Bush's "unconstitutional" domestic spying program.

For the past five years, the administration has also been taping into the comprehensive Passenger Name Record database, created by global travel reservation services.

An electronic file for each person who makes a reservation contains details on rental cars or hotels, credit card information and contact information for the passenger and next of kin.

Privacy Erosion  

 
"We are way overdue in catching up to the erosion of privacy," said Leahy

Patrick Leahy, the new Democratic Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pledged to combat Bush's trampling of civil liberties.

"We are way overdue in catching up to the erosion of privacy," he said in a speech at the Georgetown University Law Center.

"This will be one of our highest priorities."

Leahy is set to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee when the Democratic-led Congress convenes on January 4.

He and other Democrats have blasted Bush's law-violating anti-terror tactics, particularly the warrantless domestic spying program.

But as a minority in Congress, Democrats were unable to hold hearings or pass legislation to stop or revise such programs.

"We have a duty to repair real damage done to our system of government over the last few years," said Leahy.

"Americans' privacy is a price the Bush administration is willing to pay for the cavalier way it is spawning new databanks. But privacy rights belong to the people, not to the government."

In an implicit criticism of the Bush administration, Pope Benedict XVI demanded "ethical limits" in efforts to combat terrorism.

In comments in an annual message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, the pontiff said that some countries had flouted humanitarian law in their endeavors to fight terror.

Although the Pope did not identify any specific countries, Vatican sources made it clear he was referring in particular to the US.

Last year, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that war could never justify human rights abuses.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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