Speak out against ‘fishing expedition’

Speak out against ‘fishing expedition’

Letter to the Editor in The Financial Times
March 06, 2009
Originally published in The Financial Times

Sir, Kudos to former ambassador Faith Whittlesey for her valid points about the Obama administration exerting “raw Goliath power” and breaching a bilateral tax agreement in demanding that UBS produce the names of 52,000 American customers (“America must treat its Swiss friend with care”, March 2). American as well as Swiss citizens should also be concerned about this breach of civil liberties and privacy.

Violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution’s prohibition of “unreasonable searches”, the Obama administration is demanding the right to pry into tens of thousands of bank accounts without any individualised suspicion of tax fraud or other crimes. This type of warrantless “fishing expedition” was the very thing for which members of the Left, and some on the Right, criticised the Bush administration in its anti-terrorism policies.

Those who rightly criticised President George W. Bush for privacy breaches must speak up against the Obama administration's outrageous attempts to rummage through foreign bank accounts without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion.

John Berlau, Director, Center for Entrepreneurship, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, US