Tuesday, 29 January 2013

NOW THE 4TH AMENDMENT IS UNDER THREAT – IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR THE US CONSTITUTION?



At present, the debate on gun-control is raging, with traditionally-minded people standing up for the 2nd Amendment, and Left Wing radicals pushing for ‘change’ that will infringe on the ‘right to bear arms’. 

But the 2ND Amendment is not all that the Left is attacking.

The 4TH Amendment
4th AMENDMENT UNDER ATTACK:  Government is using 'Terrorism'
and 'National Security' as an excuse to further intrude on your lives
For years the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” has allowed the federal government to spy on US citizens that it considers being a ‘threat’ to ‘national security’ (that terrifying term which has been used to decay our liberty).  On Thursday, attempts to halt government plans to renew FISA on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to hack into peoples’ email, texts and Internet searches, were crushed.  This means that your electronic mail can be spied on without a warrant. 

The 4TH Amendment says:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

As you can see, the 4th Amendment explicitly states that US citizens cannot be spied on without ‘probable cause’.  In short, the government can’t spy on people on a hunch that they might be linked to foreign ‘targets’. 

Using the word ‘targets’, though, is misleading, for it gives the impression that a US citizen can only be spied on if he or she is engaging directly with a foreign enemy.  This is not true.  The ‘target’ might be nothing more than the subject matter of conversations made by people in the US – this would be enough for the federal government to spy on them. 

To make matters worse, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the FISA Amendment Act is a secret.  Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been one of FISA’s biggest supporters, and during arguments about finally forcing the secret interpretations of the FISA Amendments Act to be revealed, she brandished the text of the bill and proclaimed that there ‘is no secret’, and that ‘the text is public’, which is in fact a lie, as it assumes that ‘the law’ and the ‘text of the legislation’ are one and the same, which they are not.  For instance, how would you interpret the Constitution if Supreme Court rulings were all classified (Julian Sanchez’s argument)?  You can’t, you can merely guess but without the court’s rulings you would not know what they mean in practice.  One Senator – Ron Wyden – has seen the Act, and says that it is problematic, but, alas, he cannot go into detail, as he is forbidden from doing so.  The Obama Administration initially promised to declassify the secret interpretations, but since that promise was made it has refused to make such changes.  Senator Jeff Markley pushed for an amendment that would force the government to finally release FISA court opinions that were of interest to the American people, but his amendment failed. 

Senator Rand Paul also moved for an amendment that, according to his Website: ‘extends Fourth Amendment guarantees to electronic communications and requires specific warrants” if police feel they need to search or seize such devices.  Interestingly, this amendment – which tries to do nothing more than *protect* the US Constitution – was seen as ‘genuinely radical’ by Sanchez, a policy analyst at The Cato Institute.  The amendment failed with 79 to 12.

This startling erosion of constitutional freedom has had no attention from the media, and is not part of the ‘public debate’ (if, of course, there ever is one; it seems to me that in the end politicians tend to do as they please, anyway). 

You might be asking: how could this happen?  Well, the banner of ‘national security’ is a principle element.  Indeed, ‘national security’ is the excuse usually given to infringe on peoples’ liberties.  It is the reason for government expansion – if it doesn’t keep a tight watch over the people, then we might get more 9/11s.  This fear mongering almost always prevails.

‘Fear’ plays a crucial role along the road to despotism.  Hitler generated fear as a result of the Reichstag Fire of 27TH February 1933, to pass the Enabling Act that effectively turned him from Chancellor to dictator (‘FuhrĂ«r’ came later).  Under the blanket of fear, governments can put forward all types of measures that increase their hold over the people. 

The trouble is, if we allow the 4TH Amendment to be violated on the grounds that ‘times have changed’, we leave the doors open to a violation on the 2ND Amendment, on the grounds that ‘attitudes towards guns have changed’, and the 1ST Amendment, on the grounds that ‘what is socially and culturally acceptable in the media has changed’.  I happen to think that the Constitution *doesn’t* change, that it remains as a testament to freedom and justice throughout the centuries.  If we ‘compromise’ it, we are effectively turning our backs on it.  The Founding Fathers said that the government could only spy on its people if it had a specific warrant based ‘upon probable cause’, so that is the way things have to be.

If we think we are better than those who have gone before us, we will end up marching down the road to Tyranny.   

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