Do individual Civil Rights matter anymore? Is anyone disturbed that our federal government secretly taped a private luncheon conversation of a Hoboken City Councilman, found no criminal activity, and then released the tape two years later without regard to privacy or personal harm? Undoubtedly there was a court order permitting the recording, but no criminal activity was found or charged. At that point our government has a duty to safeguard the tapes of private conversations that are not related to their criminal investigation. The tapes were not kept safe and they were eventually obtained by our Hoboken City government, which furthered the civil rights violations by using the taped conversation in a political campaign. The secret tapes were played on TV screens in front of City Hall and then transcribed and placed on the City of Hoboken website. And to what purpose? For political gain?
The American people elect leaders and give them great power over the people. Spying, surveillance and armed force are not to be taken lightly. The government has great power and a duty to use that power only in extraordinary circumstances and only to protect the people. Government surveillance is to be conducted in accord with strict protocols. When the purpose of an investigation is over, and no criminal activity is found, any information gathered should not be freely disseminated.
I find the release of the federal surveillance tapes to be an egregious violation of our civil rights and it will not surprise me to once again see no disciplinary action taken for what was probably negligence. However, I do hope that there will be an investigation into what I consider to be the illegitimate use of these supposedly secret recordings by our City government. Even after the federal lapse, when the recordings entered the public media, the City government had no right to compound the violation of our civil rights. It is un-American for our government to use private information, obtained by governmental action, for political gain. A US president resigned in a similar situation. How often must we repeat these mistakes before we learn?