Once again, “civil libertarians” and some members of Congress – groups often comprised of people who are engaged in demanding that nobody smoke, drink, eat meat, drive SUV’s, display Christian symbols, use chemicals on their lawns, hunt, fish, build additions on their homes, shop at Wal-Mart and wear fur – are angered at George Bush for stomping on our privacy rights.

This time the stink is about “warrantless mail searches.” Old news according to some.

Here are the basics:

A statement attached to postal legislation by President Bush last month may have opened the way for the government to open mail without a warrant.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said that’s nothing new. “All this is saying is that there are provisions at law for — in exigent circumstances — for such inspections. It has been thus. This is not a change in law, this is not new.”

“What the signing statement indicates is what present law allows, in making it clear what the provisions are,” Snow said Thursday in his daily briefing.

But members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — say that’s not what they intended the law to do. And they call it another example of a president claiming new legal authority while signing a bill into law.

They never intended the law to be used that way? Gosh, that never happens does it?  People whose job it is to come up with impressive sounding names for stuff call this “function creep,” and the government invented it. It isn’t wise, from a business standpoint, to point out the shortcomings of your own invention.

As for members of Congress who are gravely concerned about mail searches, let’s not forget something: This is the same bunch of nosy ne’er-do-wells who claim to be having sleepless nights because your Christmas card to Grandma might be opened and read by the government, but at the same time they have absolutely no problem sticking their greasy mitts in the envelope that contains your paycheck.

If we’re going to stand against all government intrusion and for freedom and liberty, let’s stand against all government intrusion and for freedom and liberty. But when the same entity that just threatened to put a restaurant owner out of business if he didn’t stop putting trans-fats in my burger gets the nervous trots over the idea that George W. Bush might be reading that owner’s mail, the concept of freedom gets cloudier than Seattle in wintertime.

You can’t help but wonder how many of these relatively small ”privacy concerns” are red herrings being voiced by those who are in fact pulling off far greater nosiness and outright unconstitutional intrusion.


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