The courts have been crystal clear for decades; unlimited fishing expeditions are not permitted. The NSA doesn’t care.
OK, I’ll admit it; I’m not a criminal attorney, but most, if not all, reputable law schools require their students to take courses in Criminal Law, and in Criminal Procedure. This means that the student will have to study, at some point, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. That’s the one, for those living in Rio Linda, which states that people are not subject to unreasonable searches and seizures.
Examine the clear text of the amendment. It specifies that searches require a warrant issued on probable cause, and that it must state where the search is to occur, and what is to be searched for and/or seized. The courts have constantly held that broad spectrum warrants covering multiple or omnibus locations are not permitted under the law. Yet, this is exactly what the NSA is doing and what the FISA Courts have permitted.
The FISA Courts, created in 1978 following the Vietnam War, generally operate in secret. The scope of their operation was expanded under the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11/2001. The secrecy was expected to prevent terrorists from knowing that they were being followed and monitored. This is acceptable if we monitor specific suspected terrorist(s); that falls squarely within the bounds permitted by the Fourth Amendment. Monitoring the entire U.S. communications network does not. It clearly involves monitoring people who are not suspected of anything. And we should not forget that the people are also guaranteed a constitutional right to privacy. We have no reason to monitor hundreds of millions of innocent people. The government is not allowed to establish a Court of the Star Chamber.
Congressman James Sensenbrenner, who authored the Patriot Act has been interviewed extensively on radio regarding the Act, and particularly Section 215 covering business records searches; the rule under which the NSA blanket searches have been conducted. Rep. Sensenbrenner stated categorically that the section is limited to the business records of foreigners who are suspected of terrorism. He has also stated that the section was written specifically to prevent government data mining. Yet the government has been doing exactly what it was not supposed to do. Now, Internet rumors are circulating regarding an opinion of the FISA courts that the data mining is unconstitutional. If this opinion exists, it shows that the government was acting in violation of a court order.
Whistle Blower Edward Snowdon, who leaked the story regarding the NSA investigation, stated that the government is acting unilaterally to grant itself massive powers to control every aspect of American society. He is now facing potential prosecution because he has revealed a massive criminal conspiracy against the American people by government operatives, likely originating in the White House. Representatives and Senators of either party demanding the prosecution of Snowdon have turned their backs on the citizen. They are effectively demanding that an informant be prosecuted for revealing criminal activity. If these individuals knew of these violations they are the ones who should be prosecuted. And what must become a matter of public discussion is the attempt by Barack Obama to establish a turnkey tyranny by fiat.
James Clapper, National Security Director of Intelligence, previously told Congress, under oath, that no such data collection was taking place. Clapper lied to Congress, and to the American People. There was no reason to lie unless he was trying to hide something. Clearly, the Obama administration has become a criminal enterprise, using the government to abuse the people for its own political ends. And those ends are becoming clearer, day by day; the institution of an Orwellian 1984 style police state.
Obama promised transparency and the rule of law. What he gave was secrecy, back room conspiracies, blatant violations of the law at every turn, and effective statements that popular sovereignty no longer exists; that the people should have no power and cannot be trusted with it. The Department of Justice no longer is interested in “equal justice under the law.” It seeks politically motivated justice, punishing and obstructing the political opposition and protecting its political allies. That is Eric Holder’s primary role; the protection of the Obama administration from due process of law. That is why Lois Lerner has not been prosecuted, along with other administrators who have been implicated in the IRS wrongdoing. His primary activities since the scandals went public have been damage control.
But the damage control has contained more lies and obfuscations. Government functionaries have steadily maintained that the IRS violations were the result of a few “rogue agents.” But it wasn’t rogue IRS Agents; it was a rogue administration.
As Senator Rand Paul put it, the NSA is looking at a billion phone calls a day, which is “not a modest invasion of privacy.” The American Revolution was fought, in part, over general warrants, similar to this. There is no problem with specific, targeted searches based on probable cause. There is no problem with going after specific terrorists or other criminal suspects, but wholesale trolling of communication between people accused of nothing is illegal.
One has to go back to the question of how the government missed the Boston Marathon bombers, while harassing 501(c )(4) applicants such as True the Vote. Terrorists don’t pose a threat to the administration because they cannot easily get at big government. Government doesn’t care about a few civilian deaths unless it becomes embarrassing to them. The current government constantly asserts how it wants to protect the people, but in fact, it wants to protect itself from the people. The people have become its enemy.
Government officials swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and to protect the people from enemies, foreign and domestic. As a general rule we have had very few domestic enemies in the past. But that has changed. The domestic enemies, the oath breakers, reside all through the halls of government and especially at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. How to root them out is a difficult question. Congress must get its act together and do something more significant than merely holding hearings. The Legislature (and the Courts) should be protecting the people now that the executive branch will not. It is time for them to do their proper duty and enforce the 4th Amendment.