We Dems expected President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to offend our civil liberties.
We didn’t expect President Barack Obama, the constitutional law professor, to go back on his campaign promise to make a course correction to cure the over-reaching of the Bush Administration.
We were foolish to expect better.
Without regard to partisan coloration, our public officials and our government just can’t stop poking their noses into our private papers and communications.
The Fourth Amendment, by which we are purportedly protected, guaranteed we’d be secure” in our “persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
This guarantee has been rendered almost meaningless by the actions of our government from the federal to the county level. Applications to search and seize are routinely approved by magistrates and judges. The basis for the government’s searches are often kept secret.
In a recent argument in Florida, when challenging the government’s right to hide what it told a federal Magistrate to get a search warrant for my client’s offices, a federal judge asked where the constitution says the “victim” of a suspicion-less search, or any search for that matter, has any right to see the affidavit.
The unstated presumption is that we should trust the government prosecutor to get it right and the Magistrate to protect our rights. So it’s therefore okay to keep the person who was searched, who has the greatest interest in whether s/he was violated or not, to remain in the dark as to how or why this was justified. There is a correlative right under the First Amendment to have a right of access to government papers under the theory that sunlight is a disinfectant against a government’s bad practices.
Our magistrates and judges are plainly too compliant in conforming to the government’s demands and don’t know or care or have the courage to make the arguments that the person being searched would make for himself. They are therefore not protecting us from the government rummaging through our persons, houses, papers and effects with abandon.
The Supreme Court, over Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s Objections, in a recent 5-4 decision, ruled our personal DNA is public property. The Majority said, the reason was to identify the suspect.
Justice Scalia objected that reasoning “taxes the credulity of the credulous.” Justice Scalia explained the arresting officers knew they had the right person, and the state law says the DNA’s for investigative purposes. Justice Scalia said the seizure of DNA was a “suspicion-less” search, because it was used to investigate something else that the arrestee may have done but for which the government had not even any “suspicion” of wrongdoing at the moment it was taking his DNA.
Under the wrongly named Patriot Act (the Benedict Arnold Act would have been more accurate), the government is doing the same thing, investigating without any particular suspicion, invading our online and telephone associations – and when they choose to do so, diving further into the content of these communications – without so much as a “pardon me,” and they are telling us they are doing it for our own good. Sorry. No sale.
The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and yes, that’s really his name, denied that the PRISM program, the name they’ve chosen to invade our privacy rights, was a data mining exercise. Really?
The government is looking at billions and billions of bytes of information and they want us to believe that they are not data mining. Even if they had some eye-shaded Evelyn Wood speed reader reading this stuff in hard copy, s/he would have to look for key words, having no particular suspicion of wrongdoing, and that’s data mining.
Shame on Congress for defending or remaining indifferent to this gross invasion of our basic constitutional rights!
Shame on our Chief Executive for showing no more restraint than his predecessor did.
The Government’s pretext is they want us “secure.”
Well we want to be “secure” from our government as the Constitution intended by the Fourth Amendment.