Bo b Ec kha r dt to be convinced the information relates to a possible crime, not that there is “probable cause” to believe a crime is involved. “A criminal offense,” also is a rather broad category the wiretap, of course, is restricted only to crimes involving narcotics. Finally, the amendment allows a district attorney to apply for pen register approval, whereas only DPS can seek wiretap authorization. Despite all this, only four Senators voted against the final passage of the wiretap bill on May 16. They were: Washington of Houston, Mauzy of Dallas, Caperton of Bryan, and Barrientos of Austin. Rep. Terral Smith, R-Austin, the House sponsor, agreed to the amendments the next day and said he expected the House to concur. That was a wise move for them, said Sen. Mauzy, because if the house delayed matters in the final week of the session by asking for a conference committee, that would have enabled him to filibuster the bill to death in the final days of the session. THE TEXAS CIVIL LIBERTIES Union said Sen. Washington’s efforts “resulted in a modest gain for endangered privacy rights. ” “Texas owes Sen. Washington a debt of gratitude for standing up, literally, to protect them from unwarranted government intrusion,” TCLU director Gara LaMarche said. Washington, for his part, called it “a small, minor victory.” He said, “The ultimate victory would have been to prevent the law from being extended. Second to that would have been to prevent covert entry altogether.” Washington also said he did not think the compromise would have come about without the assistance of Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby. Sen. Ed Howard agreed, saying Hobby had used his persuasive powers to get him to compromise. “Governor Hobby is not real wild about the wiretap bill itself, and he was really not wild about the covert entry being in there,” Howard said. Still, Hobby ultimately played the same role he played in 1981 of shepherding the wiretap bill through the Senate to satisfy the majority of senators. Once again, the central rationale for the wiretap law was not challenged the argument that wiretapping is part of some “War on Drugs” still carries the day. The DPS boasts of drugs confiscated. And yet this is clearly insignificant in slowing down the drug business, even on a statewide scale. Colonel Jim Adams, the director of DPS, admitted this much in a public hearing before the Senate committee April 16. Although “tools” have been added to the law enforcement arsenal, “there certainly hasn’t been any improvement in the problem nationwide,” he said. And “we still have a major drug trafficking problem in Texas,” he said. Nor has Adams persuasively shown that any of the “kingpins” in the drug trade are now behind bars because of wiretapping. DPS advocacy of wiretapping has less to do with drugs than it has to do with simply wanting as much snooping authority as it can get. Back in 1973, when the Department was first clamoring for legalized wiretaps, it was said to be because they needed it to chase after organized crime. When that didn’t work, along came H. Ross Perot and his magnificent War on Drugs publicity stunt, and legislators turned off their critical faculties and brought in the wiretapping. It is not hard to imagine that in future years the DPS will be back to seek expanded authority, to use the wiretaps for gambling investigations or organized crime hunts or “whatever the mind of man can dream up,” as Sen. Mauzy says. Col. Adams is already on record at least once in a letter to Mauzy’s Senate Criminal Jurisprudence committee in January of 1984 saying “in view of its [wiretapping’s] demonstrated value, consideration should be given to expanding its use to other selected violations.” Sen. Mauzy charges DPS with looking for “shortcuts to justice.” He says he never gets to the point of trading a few civil liberties for a little progress against drug trafficking. “It’s offensive to me that government or anybody else is allowed to invade the privacy of any citizen of this country. It’s not what was contemplated in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights of the United States, or the Constitution or the Bill of Rights of the State of Texas. And as far as I’m concerned there ain’t no shortcuts to justice. You jump through all those hoops because that’s what they had in mind when this country and this state were organized.” The War on Drugs is on, in other words, and the first casualty may have been the integrity of the long-standing constitutional protections against the intrusive eyes and ears of the state’s police. D. D. We need each of you. The fundraising appeal we sent to all Observer readers earlier this month has brought hundreds of heartwarming and generous replies. Still, we have a way to go before reaching our goal. Please, if you haven’t sent your Observer donation, tend to it soon. Whether or not the Observer can continue publishing depends on you. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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