Friday, December 16, 2005

4th Amendment gets poked with holes

James Risen and and Eric Lichtblau report in today’s New York Times that President Bush once again violated the Bill of Rights for the sake of “security.”

"Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.
The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches."

As the Mahablog ( points out:
"Let’s see …

Amendment IV
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.
So how is monitoring emails and telephone calls without a warrant not a bare-assed end run around the 4th Amendment?

It is fairly easy to point out that once you start poking , say 5000 exceptions in the 4th Amendment, then we have become a country of men having supreme power, and not a country of laws.

Pick and choose which Bill of Rights to disregard, and then you really don't have a Bill of Rights anymore. You get what Hunter S. Thompson called," a Kingdom of Fear".

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