Representative David Reichert — Serve and Protect at What Price?

Recently I mentioned Senator Patty Murray has some disappointing and perhaps suspicious priorities. But at least she hasn’t done something actively bad, that I’m aware of. Yes, she’s given away money to local companies for dubious reasons, such as boats and expensive heads-up displays that the military doesn’t want. But at least she’s honest about it, and has some decent excuses.

Unlike Representative David Reichert. Now, if I’m remembering right, Dave was a big-shot in the police force out here before he became a member of Congress. His voting on legislation seems to indicate that he likes empowering the police, and he was even one of the initial authors of the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which is designed to spy on us all, cataloging our thoughts and behavior, so “bad” people can be found before they actually commit any crime. That still profoundly disappoints me.

But Dave has also supported some very good things, like wanting to undo the latest FCC policy change which allows even further media consolidation. All in all, I always thought that Dave was not one of the “bad guys”. Unfortunately, the past few days have seen my mind change somewhat.

A couple days ago I called Dave’s office, asking him to not support any FISA legislation that offered immunity from the law to companies breaking it — even when those companies were asked to break the law by our President and the FBI. If our President and the Executive Branch are so willing to break the law, how can they discharge their duties to uphold the law? If they cannot follow the law, there is no one left to enforce it. Except, that is, in non-criminal courts, which can punish acts breaking the law with monetary damages. The President and the Executive Branch want to take away our ability, not only to receive damages from people breaking the law, but even our ability to find out if someone is even breaking the law or violating us.

Dave Reichert seems to be supporting George Bush and the (lately again) undeniably dubious FBI, in their illegal acts, working to shore up an impenetrable defensive wall against bringing justice upon them in any form, or even being able to see what exactly they’ve been up to, in their admittedly warrantless actions, which have been deemed illegal in court.

Dave has even spread disinformation, that would result in fear for many listening to him. The written response I received from him states the following:

“For example, under current law the government could not monitor two unknown terrorists if there was the possibility the communication went through the United States.”

There is nothing in the surrounding context of his speech that could change his meaning in any way. When I replied to him, telling him of his erroneous information, I told him that I didn’t know if he was outright lying, was misinformed, or some staff member made a terrible mistake when writing.

Under the current law, even within the United States, the government can monitor anyone, even without a warrant. But the FBI would have to file the warrant soon afterward. It’s a good practice. And it helps keep them honest.

The interesting bit is that Dave says the government can’t monitor two “unknown” terrorists. He’s actually right about that. You can’t monitor unknown people at all, unless you monitor every possible communication between people, then go dig out conversations when you have a suspicion about someone. Or, try to recognize “suspicious talk” by some automated means. If they did record all communications amongst Americans, it would actually fall into line very nicely with the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act — which notices people’s thinking, identifying bad apples before they do anything bad.

So, Dave might talking a little sloppy while being misinformed about the powers the government already has to spy legally on us. Or, Dave is utilizing misinformation tactics and fear to galvanize support for radically eroding our rights to privacy and freedoms from search and seizure. Or, he is covertly communicating the truly terrible extent of the illegal surveillance tactics we are already subject to, but remain secret.

Personally, I like Dave — he seems like someone who has his heart in the right place. However, though by no means stupid, he’s not exactly a stellar intellect. I think he’d admit that, too. And that’s fine. We’re all stupid and smart in our own ways. I would trust the guy with my life, I think. But I’m not so sure I’d trust him with more subtle concepts with far-reaching implications, such as freedom and privacy. He’s a cop. He wants to get into our privacy, and have some substantial leeway with our freedoms. So he can protect us. I don’t doubt that, with Dave. But he’s very wrong about this FISA issue.

Dave needs to study philosophy more closely. Dave needs to study history, not only American history related to privacy and freedom issues, but world history and trends related to surveillance of populations en masse. And if he can’t be bothered to do all that, he at least needs to study Constitutional Law, with a healthy dose of the spirit that led to its creation.

And last, but certainly not least, this career law enforcement officer, who now creates laws, has to stop trying to help people weasel their way out of them. It tarnishes you, Dave. I don’t know, but doing that would make me feel more than a little unclean. Unless I had grown accustomed to it. I just can’t imagine you have.