Sunday, January 25, 2015
Juan Cole:It’s Official: Tunisia Now Freer than the U.S.
Tunisian Prime Minister Béji Caïd Essebsi announced on Monday the dissolution of the country’s secret police arm. This step toward democracy is the most important taken by any Arab country for decades.
An Arab country with neither secret police nor censorship is unprecedented in recent decades.
is inspiring similar demands in Egypt
When skeptics wonder if the Revolutions of 2011 would really change anything
essential in the region, they would be wise to keep an eye on these two
developments in Tunisia,
which, if consolidated, would represent an epochal transformation of culture
States, the fourth amendment had been
intended to prevent unreasonable and arbitrary domestic surveillance of
Americans. It says,
‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’
Not only were people not to be spied upon by the government without a warrant, but warrants were not to be issued without probable cause.
Arguably, Tunisians are now freer than Americans. The
thinks our private
emails are actually public. The FBI and NSA routinely
readour email and they and other branches of the US government issue security letters in
the place of warrants allowing them to tap phones and monitor whom we call, and
even to call up our library records and conduct searches of our homes without
telling us about it. Millions of telephone records were turned over to George
W. Bush by our weaselly telecom companies. Courts allow government agents to sneak
onto our property and put GPS tracking devices under our automobiles without
so much as a warrant or even probable cause. Mr. Obama thinks this way of
proceeding is a dandy idea.
The Fourth Amendment is on the verge of vanishing, and this attack on the Constitution is being abetted by pusillanimous and corrupt judges and fascistic elements in our national security apparatus. Freedom of peaceable assembly is also being whittled away in the United States of America via devices such as ‘free speech zones;’ the founding generation intended that the whole of the United States be a free speech zone. Many of the protests in the
East being cheered on by Americans would be illegal in this
Few among the public even seem to care about these assaults on our liberties here. At least the youth of the
East can generate a little passion over censorship and
unreasonable surveillance. Makes an old Madisonian tear up a little.