By Chuck Norton
UPDATE …We told ya so: Obama’s Snooping Excludes Mosques, Missed Boston Bombers – LINK
This story is not about partisanship. It is about the difference between what Palpatine called, “I will make it legal” and what is truly lawful.
For starters we need legislation making third-party records with phone companies, internet, credit card, etc private. Just because technology has out-stepped the 4th Amendment does not mean that we cannot adjust the trajectory of that Amendment to keep up with technology. The “papers and effects” of today are smart phones and computers. The Constitution doesn’t say “you have the 4th Amendment until the moment your papers are in a digital format”. Shall we poll the American people on that one?
Most Americans would be outraged if they knew that Supreme Court once ruled that you have no expectation of privacy on such personal data.
One of the reasons the Founders petitioned the Crown and then wrote the Declaration of Independence is because of unspecific “General Warrants”. The reason that the 4th Amendment was enumerated is because the British issued these general warrants which were essentially legalized ‘fishing expeditions’ into people’s lives. Eventually the Crown gave the Red Coats the ability to write their own warrants. Today we are doing the same with “national security letters“.
They have made it illegal to tell anyone you are targeted, so you can’t even go to court to fight it.
How are we to know who was hurt or whose private information was leaked, or who’s phone and email was tapped and that information was used against them secretly? Since you can’t check and see if you have been snooped upon ever, you technically have no standing in court…. how convenient. This little maneuver is how the Obama Administration has been getting such cases thrown out of court.
The entire purpose of the courts, and especially the FISA Court, is to ensure that government surveillance is not overly broad and it’s actions not heavy-handed. Yet the FISA Court somehow signed off on this unlimited illegal surveillance and the Obama Administration was able to hop from judge to judge until it found one that would sign off on tracking the life of Fox News Reporter James Rosen, his family, and the entire Washington Bureau of the Associated Press. What we are experiencing is a wholesale breakdown of both the system of checks and balances and separation of powers.
The courts have said that the government needs a warrant to put a GPS tag on someone or their car, but meta data, among other things, tracks GPS off your calls and whereabouts instantly, so each and every log entry of an American without probable cause, each case… and there are millions, is a violation of law and people’s 4th Amendment rights. Where are the prosecutions? “I was just following orders” never has flown before, and doesn’t fly now.
What I don’t like is that Edward Snowden was put in the position of having to do this. The overreaches and abuses in the NSA, IRS, EPA and other agencies should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago. The tools the NSA was given were supposed to be used on foreign targets and only those in the USA where probable cause was clear and/or a specific warrant issued.
It seems to me, who Government was targeting certainly were not two brothers in Boston calling Chechnya to speak to their jihadi mother and trainers.
In every election this president has ever been in he has utilized private and sealed records against his opponents.
I used to favor the Patriot Act, I defended it against everyone in my college class on the Patriot Act in a debate – all of them vs me, and I won those debates (according to the prof), but I always gave my support with the caveat “so far as these tools are not abused, and the men using them respect the limits of their office”. Obviously this is no longer the case. Who is it that says the government is violating the restrictions placed in the Patriot Act? None other than Representative James Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act.
Snowden is not to blame for damaging our national security.
When Carter and Clinton reigned in (some say hobbled) the CIA and our intelligence capability it impacted our ability to stop the 9/11 hijackers, it was an over reaction to the abuse of the FBI, CIA, IRS etc under LBJ and Nixon. While Carter and Clinton should have acted more wisely to be sure, it was those who abused those tools in the first place that endangered our national security by causing the backlash.
Snowden is not to blame for the same reason. Those to blame for impairing our national security in the reign in that is sure to come are those who took this too far, abused the tools of government, lied to us repeatedly, forgot the limits of their office and somehow got it in their head that we are their subjects and not the other way around.
They say “trust us” after we have seen abuse after abuse of private information stored by government. They say They say “trust us” after lying to Congress about what they were doing. They say “trust us” after telling the media that “every member of Congress knew about this when clearly this was not the case. They say “trust us” when they say that “they only collected meta-data” as if somehow that is OK, for us only to discover later that they are collecting more content than they admitted after being caught.
They say that we need to trade-off some of our liberty and privacy because security is all important, and at the same time they invite millions to cross the border illegally, and accuse those of wanting to know who are crossing our borders of being racists. The government won’t even go after jihadists who over stay their student visas. In modern times, government has demonstrated time and time again that politics always trumps security.
“A ‘find the target first, then find the crime’ political approach requires access to information of an unprecedented level. Which is exactly what is happening. When everything is a crime, government data mining matters” – Prof. William Jacobsen
This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.
That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are.
What does it tell you when a 29-year-old high school drop-out has a better understanding of the 4th Amendment than the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA)?
I have been warning that academia has become so radical that it has become subversive. I am not alone in this line of thinking as Justice Scalia says that academia is largely responsible for these nonsensical, fast & loose interpretations of the Constitution.
There needs to be a massive effort to educate people on the 4th Amendment and that education needs to start with traditionalists, conservatives and republicans. Why? Because if those who claim to embrace the ideals of the nation’s founding don’t get it how can lay people be expected to?