Th NY Times is chock full o’ goodness today. And, they are making me dizzy. In the lead op-ed, William Safire hyperventilates outside his brown paper bag:
In terror of an external threat, our leaders are protecting Washington at the cost of every American’s personal freedom.
Generally, I do not like the surveillance techniques being discussed either. But then we go two columns down, and Yale Law Professor and guest columnist Akhil Reed Amar tells us that we need to pass laws narrowing the scope of the Fifth Amendment:
…sometimes a truth-seeking society needs to be able to compel a person to speak outside his trial – in grand jury rooms, civil cases and legislative hearings, for example. One solution is to require the person to testify in these specific places, but then exclude this compelled testimony from any later prosecution brought against him. This way, he would never become a witness against himself “in a criminal case.”
This rule would offer Congressional witnesses a narrow type of testimonial immunity. While the testimony itself would be excluded from the criminal trial, evidence that might be drawn indirectly from the testimony would be admissible at a later trial. This would allow prosecutors to use any reliable leads that the testimony might generate. Courts today allow government lawyers to force people to give voice samples and take breath tests for alcohol because these are not considered forms of self-incrimination prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. If prosecutors can compel defendants to provide these kinds of evidence, they should also be allowed to introduce reliable evidence that is found as a result of earlier immunized testimony.
This is exactly the rule that Congress enacted, and President Abraham Lincoln signed into law, in 1862.
We also had slavery in 1862.
You gotta just love the Times. We are gonna be hysterical about your rights, unless it gets in the way of empowering Congress over the individual and getting some good ENRON testimony. I might have to sue them for ideological whiplash.