The erosion of our civil rights continues despite a democratic majority in both the House and Senate. Domestic spying long villified by civil rights activists and constitutional scholars as a violation of the Fourth Amendment is back in the news. At issue is the added authority to search and even seize business records all without court approval. From the NY Times –

Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.

Administration officials acknowledged that they had heard such concerns from Democrats in Congress recently, and that there was a continuing debate over the meaning of the legislative language. But they said the Democrats were simply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of the legislation.

Meanwhile, Matthew Rothschild, editor of Progressive Magazine has been interviewed over at TruthDig.

Rothschild, … author of “You Have No Rights,” explains how our president became a “medieval king,” and why your civil liberties are in greater danger than ever.

Along the lines of the First Amendment, that infamous freedom of speech right that Coquille Councilman Bruce Parker objects to, our civil liberties are being selectively violated across the nation whenever Bush or Cheney are around.

Scheer: People talk about—you know, Bush has talked about this so many times—“They hate us for our freedom.” That was a line used long ago. People talk about, “Visit the free country, the free country, the free country.” Why don’t people realize that when you take away the Constitution, even the parts you dislike, you’re really hurting the freedom? Or is that just a word that’s being bantered around, like any kind of spin?

Rothschild: I wish more people in this country would really revere the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment and the Eighth Amendment. But Cheney and Bush themselves are intolerant of the freedoms that are enshrined in our Bill of Rights. In my book, “You Have No Rights,” I tell the story of a guy named Steve Howards who was walking through Beaver Creek, Colo., an open-air mall there and, of all people, Dick Cheney is there, shaking hands. And Steve Howards goes up to the vice president, about three feet away, and says, “Mr. Vice President, I think your policy in Iraq is reprehensible.” … And then he walked away. But the Secret Service approached him 10 minutes later and said, “Did you assault the vice president of the United States?” And Steve Howards said, “No, I was just expressing my First Amendment rights.” And they responded, “No, you assaulted the vice president of the United States. You’re under arrest.”

It gets even worse, there is an operational manual that directs Secret Service to violate our First Amendment rights

There’s actually a White House manual that came out as a consequence of a couple of the people I profile in this book suing the White House and suing the Secret Service. The White House manual from the advance team of the White House tells people at the White House, when the president and the vice president go out somewhere, that they should be shielded from protests, that the advance team should do everything possible to keep the protesters out of earshot and eyesight of the president and vice president. If that doesn’t succeed, the advance team should get together a rally squad…

Further along the lines of the First Amendment is this article regarding a ‘freeway blogger’ at The Progressive.

Here in Coquille we have a sitting city council member actually boycotting a local paper for allowing people to exercise their First Amendment right! Flex your rights people or they will soon be gone.

UPDATE: It is getting worse every day. Man In “Liberal” Asheville Arrested For Holding “Impeach” Sign
(hat tip excuuuuuuse me!)