Bob Barr, on his blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called The Barr Code, has published a post concerning a possible ban on pre-paid cell phones, conceived of by Senators Schumer and Cornyn.
This session of the 111th Congress has been one that will go down in infamy by virtue of its assault on privacy and other civil liberties. Several of these problematic provisions have not yet made it to President Barack Obama’s desk, but in today’s political environment, resisting them will be difficult. Many in the Congress still tremble as a result of the Times Square bombing attempt; even as many also remain gripped by the hysteria surrounding the as-yet unproven Toyota rogue acceleration problem.
The latest civil liberties victim of Times Square Brainiac Faisal Shahzad’s feeble attempt at terrorism fame is the pre-paid cell phone. This innocuous device, available now to virtually anyone wishing to buy a cheap cell phone useable for a limited period, represents perhaps the last opportunity for a person to communicate anonymously. Yet, these devices are being targeted for extinction by a pair of United States Senators simply because the failed Times Square bomber used one in his preparatory activities; and law enforcement discovered this not because the purchase of the cell phone was recorded in an accessible database, but because Shahzad made at least one call to a number already on a government list of suspected terrorists.
Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer now has teamed with his Republican colleague from Texas, John Cornyn, and introduced a bill that would employ the heavy hand of federal law to prohibit anonymous cell phones. Leaving aside the question of where the Congress finds authority in the Constitution to do this, it is certain that many of their colleagues will jump at this latest chance to prove they are as tough on terrorists as the next guy, whatever the cost to the rest of the citizenry.