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. - The Bill of Rights
The War on Terror
"Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives
people harder than a fear of sudden death." - Adolf Hitler
President Bush expanded the power of the executive branch in the
ever-increasing surveillance of American citizens. Shortly after the events of
9/11, the Bush administration announced a "War on Terrorism", and within
weeks, Americans saw many of their constitutional guarantees of freedom
stripped away by the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act
with their plethora of legislative changes which significantly increased the
surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement agencies in the United
Attorney General Michael Mukasey began implementing new FBI
guidelines that could begin national security and criminal investigations of
racial and ethnic groups without any evidence of wrongdoing.
These new powers of the executive branch did not, however, provide for
the system of checks and balances that traditionally safeguards civil liberties
in the face of such legislation.
Many of the provisions of these
tyranical Acts relating to electronic surveillance were actually proposed
before September 11th, and were subject to much criticism and debate. Download
and read the Rebuilding America's
Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century document for
yourself. The Rebuilding America's Defenses was written in September
2000, a year earlier than the 9/11 attack, by the neo-conservative
think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Drawn up for Dick
Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and others, the New World Order plan
shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region
whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power.
Following 9/11, criticism
and debate was squelched in favor of "protecting America."
Jordan of The Associated Press pointed out: "The new policy, law enforcement
officials said, would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations
after mining public records and intelligence (including tips from informants)
to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious."
There would be no evidence of criminal activity.
also has "proposed a new domestic-spying measure that would make it easier for
state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the
sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years" (The
Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2008). State and local police agencies would not be
hampered by Fourth Amendment's requirements that they must search and seize
traces of our activities and beliefs only upon "probable cause" that we are, or
have been or plan to be, involved in criminal actions. They would need only a
suspicion that we somehow are involved in terrorism or are providing "material
support" to terrorism. "Material support" can mean sending a check to a
charitable organization that, unknown to the giver, provides funds to a group
later listed by the government as a terrorist group.
Perhaps one of the most blatant violations of the 4th Amendment is
the use of the National
Security Letter (NSL) power under 18 U.S.C. § 2709 as expanded by
PATRIOT Section 505. These letters served on communications service providers
like phone companies and ISPs allow the FBI to secretly demand data about
ordinary American citizens' private communications and Internet activity
without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review. Recipients of NSLs
are subject to a gag order that forbids them from ever revealing the letters'
existence to their coworkers to their friends or even to their family members
much less the public.
Early in 2002, the Department
of Defense disclosed the most sweeping effort to monitor the activity of
Americans since the 1960's, a program called
Total Information Awareness - allowing federal agencies to
share information about American citizens and aliens that is currently stored
in separate databases. But the Total Information Awareness program takes the
principle of information-sharing to a new level. The T.I.A. program develops
architectures for integrating existing databases into a ''virtual, centralized,
grand database.'' In addition to analyzing financial, educational, travel and
medical records, as well as criminal and other governmental records, the T.I.A.
program could include the development of technologies to create risk profiles
for millions of visitors and American citizens in its quest for suspicious
patterns of behavior.
NSA (National Security Agency) Exposed
In 2013, NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden,
revealed to the American public the NSA electronic surveillance program called
Prism. This revelation came the day after the revelation that the United States
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been requiring the
telecommunications company Verizon to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of
its customers' telephone calls on an ongoing daily basis.
PRISM program did was to allow the NSA to obtain virtually anything it wanted
about hundreds of millions of people around the world from Internet companies.
Like cockroaches caught in a bright spotlight, government and corporate
cronies scurried about defending this blatant violation of the 4th Amendment
and massive intrusion into the private lives of all Americans in the name of
Prior to the disclosure of the NSA Prism program by
The Washington Times and The Guardian, on March 12, 2013, the United States
Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, had
lied to the United States
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence saying that the NSA does "not
wittingly" collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of
Americans. Following the exposure of Prism, Clapper stated that "the NSA
collects the phone data in broad swaths, because collecting it (in) a narrow
fashion would make it harder to identify terrorism-related communications. The
information collected lets the government, over time, make connections about
terrorist activities." On June 8, 2013, Clapper said "the surveillance
activities published in The Guardian and The Washington Post are lawful and
conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and
authorized by Congress."
Senator Rand Paul spoke at UC Berkeley on
March 19, 2014 about his class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration
and the NSA's collection of telephone metadata.
It's true, Congress is complicit in this erosion of the 4th
Amendment. The controlling law here is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act (FISA) introduced on May 18, 1977, by Senator Ted Kennedy and signed into
law by President Carter in 1978. The Act was amended in 2001 by the USA PATRIOT
Act, primarily to include terrorism on behalf of groups that are not
specifically backed by a foreign government. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said,
"We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that
allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation."
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence
Committee said, "These programs are within the law," "Part of our obligation is
keeping Americans safe," "Human intelligence isn't going to do it." It would
seem Senator Feinstein has not read the 4th Amendment. It says for example,
"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." Section 702 of the FISA law allows the NSA
to merely submit once a year it's guidelines for determining that years's
targets and then receives blanket authority to proceed. In 2013, for example,
the NSA surveilled 89,138 people under the authority of only ONE FISA order -
no probable cause, no support or affirmation, no specific description of the
place, person, or things to be searched. Clearly a violation of the U.S.
Constitution defended by Senator Feinstein, McCain, and others.
Corporate executives quickly denied any knowledge of the Prism program and
denied providing the government data on the scale alleged. Their response is
not unexpected since the Patriot Act forbids these companies of disclosing any
information about government requests for data.
In other documents
revealed by Edward Snowden, another NSA program which began in 2009 called
MYSTIC is a surveillance system capable of recording 100 percent of
a foreign countrys telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and
review conversations as long as a month after they take place. The program,
reveled in the
Post article opens a door into the past, enabling users to
retrieve audio of interest that was not tasked at the time of the
original call. Analysts listen to only a fraction of 1 percent of the
calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of
voice clippings, or cuts, for processing and long-term storage.
Edward Snowden spoke to TED2014 about
surveillance and Internet freedom.
Some Americans might feel comfortable because the MYSTIC
surveillance program supposedly only targets "a foreign country's telephone
calls." But, according to a story in
TheGuardian, another tool used by the NSA called "Boundless
Informant", shows that the NSA was spying on Americans inside America as well.
In fact, almost 3 billion data elements from inside the United States were
captured by the NSA over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.
just Internet and phone companies that are giving your personal information to
the U.S. government. According to a report by
Bloomberg, four people familiar with the
process say that makers of hardware and software, banks, Internet
security providers, satellite telecommunications companies and a whole
host of other sources are handing over your personal data to federal agencies.
It's difficult to miss the similarities of what's going on in
America today to the activities in Nazi Germany in the 1930's and '40's. All
local police units in Nazi Germany had to draw up a list of people in their
locality who might be suspected of being "Enemies of the State". This list was
given to the Gestapo - the official secret police of Nazi Germany and
German-occupied Europe. The Gestapo had the authority to investigate cases of
treason, espionage, sabotage and criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and
Germany. The basic Gestapo law passed by the government in 1936 gave the
Gestapo carte blanche to operate without judicial oversight.
The War on Drugs Democratic politicians like the
War on Drugs just as it is -- because they love
the power it gives the federal government. Republican politicians want to
accelerate the War on Drugs -- by taking away more of your Constitutional
liberties, by taking away more of your privacy, by turning America into more of
a police state.
In yet another violation of the Fourth Amendment, The Family
Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was passed by Congress giving
sweeping new powers over tobacco to the FDA, and will require everyone engaged
in manufacturing, preparing, compounding, or processing tobacco to register
with the FDA and be subjected to FDA inspections. The FDA will now have the
power of pre-market reviews of all new tobacco products, and will impose new
user fees, meaning taxes, on manufacturers and importers of tobacco products.
Curiously, this bill with more layers of bureaucracy and interference was
supported by tobacco corporate giant, Phillip Morris. Other tobacco companies
have taken to calling the bill the Marlboro Monopoly Act of 2009.
One has to wonder how many smaller farmers will be forced out of business
because of this bill.
War on Drugs shredded much of what remained of the Bill of
Rights. The biggest losers in the war were mothers, fathers, small-time
dealers, medical-marijuana users and even children -- not the "drug kingpins".
Financially, police agencies involved in the forfeiture of property
were winners. Following the passage of the 1984 Omnibus Crime Bill, police
agencies were allowed to sell the assets they seized and keep the money.
Tens of thousands of people had their property seized for the most trivial
drug-law infractions. On the highways, police use "drug courier profiles" to
stop and search motorists and confiscate their vehicles if any drugs are found.
At airports, travelers' cash is seized when it tests positive for traces of
In Denver, Colorado, 13 SWAT team members stormed the upstairs
apartment of Ismael Mena looking for drugs. After breaking open the front door,
the SWAT team found the door to Mena's room latched, and kicked it in. Police
say they found him armed with a .22 revolver, standing on his bed. Officers
claim they screamed "Police!" and "Drop the gun!" repeatedly. Mena started to
put the gun down, asking, "Policia?" But police say when they then moved to
disarm him, he again raised the gun. Officers opened fire. Mena, a father of
nine, was hit by eight bullets and killed instantly. No drugs were found. The
next day, SWAT team officers learned they had raided the wrong residence-they
should have gone next door.
In Pennsylvania, a 21-year-old man with no prior offenses, was
shot to death in his house by a squad of masked police dressed in ninja-style
uniforms. They didn't even knock before tossing a smoke grenade through a
window, setting fire to the house. The unarmed John Hirko, suspected of dealing
small amounts of marijuana and cocaine, was found face down on his stairway,
shot in the back while fleeing the fire.
Imagine what will happen when "hate speech" laws are linked up
with forfeiture statutes. People will be afraid to speak for fear of having
their property seized.
Seizures of property due to a plethora of laws and regulations are
commonplace today. Now if the government wants it, charges can be trumped and
the property taken, often without trial.
Beware of what you eat On December 1, 2008 the Ohio
Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Lorain County Health Department
violated the constitutional rights of John and Jacqueline Stowers of LaGrange,
Ohio. The Stowers operate an organic food cooperative called Manna Storehouse.
ODA and Lorain County Health Department agents forcefully raided their home and
unlawfully seized the family's personal food supply, cell phones and personal
computers. The Stowers, parents of eight children (including one son serving in
Iraq), have been accused of violating retail food establishment licensure laws.
"The use of these police state tactics on a peaceful family is simply
unacceptable," Buckeye Institute President David Hansen said. "Officers rushed
into the Stowers' home with guns drawn and held the family - including ten
young children - captive for six hours."
argues the right to buy food directly from local farmers; distribute
locally-grown food to neighbors; and pool resources to purchase food in bulk
are rights that do not require a license. In addition, the right of peaceful
citizens to be free from paramilitary police raids, searches and seizures is
guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
Section 14, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution.