Rasmussen recently polled on wiretapping, finding that "Voters appear satisfied that a proper balance has been struck between individual rights and national security."

The vast majority--75%--also think that they never would be the target of a government phone wiretap. Of course, the problem with the Bush/Cheney administration's warrantless surveillance program is that there's apparently no real targeting, either of collected phone calls swept up, or other private data they've been collecting. That means just about anybody can get caught up in the massive vacuuming of data.

Consider the case of Stephen Sprouse and Kristin Douglas, highlighted last year in an episode of Frontline:

HEDRICK SMITH, Correspondent: [voice-over] Las Vegas. It was the week before New Year's 2004 when Stephen Sprouse and Kristin Douglas flew in from Kansas City to get married.

KRISTIN DOUGLAS, Las Vegas Tourist: Stephen always wanted to get married in Vegas. I mean, that was sort of a joke.

HEDRICK SMITH: Stephen and Kristin exchanged vows in front of friends, family-

"ELVIS": Ladies and gentlemen, it is show time!

HEDRICK SMITH: -and Elvis.

STEPHEN SPROUSE, Las Vegas Tourist: You come in and you're thinking, "OK, I'm going to get married." And you know, Elvis comes down the aisle. Then you're kind of up there, and all of a sudden, you're thinking, "Wow, I'm really getting married." Then they're doing the vows, and you're, like, "Oh, this is for real."

WEDDING OFFICIAL: You may kiss your bride.

KRISTIN DOUGLAS: And then you're singing "Viva Las Vegas."

STEPHEN SPROUSE: And then you're singing "Viva Las Vegas."

HEDRICK SMITH: But in fact, things in Vegas weren't looking so good. There was disturbing news.

BILL YOUNG, Fmr. Sheriff, Clark County, Nevada: Tom Ridge was on national TV, and you know, he said, "Hey, there's three cities that," you know, "we got to really pay attention to- Washington, D.C., New York and Las Vegas." And whew! You know, when that happens, then the whole eyes of the world come on you.
STEPHEN SPROUSE: When you were out there, that's when you kind of notice that you don't see any of the planes flying and you see helicopters off in the distance, kind of circling around. That's when it kind of seemed a little weird, a little odd.

KRISTIN DOUGLAS: Yeah. It was a little creepy.


HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] The clock was ticking, just 11 days until New Year's. They needed to act fast.
HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] Long after the celebrations were over, Stephen Sprouse and Kristin Douglas received the disquieting news that they had been swept up in that FBI data dragnet.

[on camera] You found out afterwards that all the hotel records were collected. What went through your head when you heard that?

KRISTIN DOUGLAS: They have no reason to be looking at me. I don't think that I've done anything to raise any suspicion. So I mean, just being in Las Vegas on New Year's shouldn't be enough for them to say, "Well, you know, she might be a terrorist."

ELLEN KNOWLTON, FBI Chief, Las Vegas, 2002-06: I just tell people that we made every effort to safeguard the privacy of everyone whose records were accessed. There was no breach. The information was closely safeguarded.

HEDRICK SMITH: [voice-over] The FBI says it held all the data from Vegas for more than two years but has now destroyed it all.

STEPHEN SPROUSE: I work with data. I mean, you know, if it's on the computer, it's not really ever gone. It's on a tape. It's on a back-up. It's on a drive somewhere.

HEDRICK SMITH: A more fundamental question confronts all of us. The 4th Amendment protects us against unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause. So does the strategy of prevention collide with the Constitution?

[on camera] When the government is doing this kind of data mining, has it moved from individualized suspicion, getting an individual warrant, to generalized suspicion, to check everybody to find out who are the bad guys?

PETER SWIRE, White House Privacy Counsel, 1999-01: Yeah. Check everybody. Everybody's a suspect. Everybody's phone records, everybody's email is subject to government scrutiny. And if you're good, we won't bother you, and if you look a little strange, then you might get on a watch list.

HEDRICK SMITH: Isn't that a huge change in Anglo-Saxon law? I mean, Anglo-Saxon law is based on "Get a warrant." The 4th Amendment is based on individual suspicion.

PETER SWIRE: Right. General warrants was part of the reason for the American Revolution. It was that the king's agent could go in and search a house everywhere, search a whole neighborhood with one warrant. And the Boston people said, "We don't like that. We'll have a tea party. We'll fight you." We said no.

"We said no."

Say no now. Blue America has set up two great tools for you to use to do just that. The first is a "Whip Count" tool that  

allows you to directly contact Senators to tell them to stand up for the rule of law and vote in favor of the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment.  (That's S.A.5064 to H.R. 6304 which will come up for a vote on July 8th, 2008.)  Not only will this tool help you phone your Senators -- including connecting your call -- but it also gives us the ability to track positions on FISA given your input on what you ascertain during your conversations.

The second will help you find out where your Senators are during this recess, so that you can use it to find out if they're near you to set up a meeting or attend a public event. Talk to your Senators. Ask them to read the bill, and use the Blue America tools to track responses and events.

Celebrate the 4th of July in a manner that would make our founders proud.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 11:30 AM PDT.

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