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Constitution Day: Civil Liberty Advocates Say Rights are Being “Wronged”

September 17, 2007

Charleston, WV – Today is Constitution Day, but it's not a happy one for the nation's founding document, according to some civil liberties advocates. Terri Baur, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, admits the public is right to be concerned about terrorism and crime, but those trepidations have led the federal government to take unreasonable steps that endanger legal rights.

"Illegal government eavesdropping, secret government detention, denial of free speech, holding people for years without charge and without trial. The worst of it, is that every American has sat back and watched as Congress let it happen."

Bair believes federal wiretapping without warrants is among the biggest constitutional concerns in recent years. She explains that, while law enforcement needs the ability to wiretap in some situations, judicial oversight is imperative to make sure surveillance powers are not abused.

Baur worries that West Virginians' personal rights and privacy are at risk, citing recent proposals for unwarranted drug testing for teachers and anticrime efforts in the state capital.

"The proposal to put surveillance cameras all around Charleston is another reason we need to step back and consider just what it is that we may be giving up."

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV