BY SAM FIELDS
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees us protection against the government unreasonably searching or seizing us our papers or our property. With a few narrow exceptions, it requires the government to obtain a search warrant before they go into our homes, cars, businesses, listen in our phones, read our e-mails, text messages, etc., etc.
Since the founding of the Republic there has been a steady battle between the people and the government—be it the President or the local gendarmes—to expand or narrow the definition of what is reasonable.
The last dozen years have not been good times for those of us who fear the long arm snooping of Big Brother who consistently seeks to narrow our Fourth Amendment protections. Nothing makes that point clearer than the 2001 Patriot Act recently renewed.
Just reading the titles of the surveillance section makes clear the government’s unrelenting attack on our civil liberties. (See below.)
|201||Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism|
|202||Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses|
|203(b)||Authority to share electronic, wire and oral interception information|
|204||Clarification of intelligence exceptions from limitations on interception and disclosure of wire, oral, and electronic communications|
|206||Roving surveillance authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.|
|207||Duration of FISA surveillance of non-United States persons who are agents of a foreign power|
|209||Seizure of voice-mail messages pursuant to warrants|
|212||Emergency disclosure of electronic communications to protect life and limb|
|214||Pen register and trap and trace authority under FISA|
|215||Access to records and other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.|
|217||Interception of computer trespasser communications|
|218||Foreign intelligence information|
|220||Nationwide service of search warrants for electronic evidence|
|223||Civil liability for certain unauthorized disclosures|
It gives the Feds the power to listen to our phone calls, read our mail both snail and electronic and do it without a search warrant. Right now the folks in the National Security Agency, located in Fort Meade, Maryland, are using computers and algorithms to listen in on millions of phone calls without a warrant.
Defense of this invasion on our civil liberties is a litany of government Newspeak premised on taking our liberty in order to protect it. Only one member of the Senate, Russell Feingold (D. Wis.), voted against it…and he lost re-election.
This past week, in Clapper v Amnesty International, we see how the Supreme Court regularly throws down roadblocks to any defense against state-authorized intrusion. In a five-to-four decision (If you know anything about the ideological divide of the Supreme Court you know who’s the five and who’s the four without me naming names.) they dismissed the claim of Amnesty International to find out whose phones are being tapped without a warrant. The majority concluded that the folks at Amnesty lacked standing to bring the lawsuit, which is a way to avoid getting to the real issue.
I thought about this assault on our freedom the other day when I learned that some unknown computer geek had hacked the e-mails of George W. Bush , our former Hacker-In-Chief. [Before my GOP critics jump all over me let me add that the current guy is not much better.]
Among the things exposed were these strange portraits he does of himself in the shower—Where is Sigmund Freud when you need him?
My favorite is a Dubya E-mail saying that he does not trust Dick Cheney—Welcome to the club.
In the meantime, the papers are full of outrage from the Bushes and their supporters about this invasion of their privacy. Not a one has noted the irony of the situation that the former King-Of-All-Snoops got snooped on. That ends now.
If this particular episode means that Bush has to spend the rest of his life wondering whether his deepest personal communications will wind up on Wikileaks or Smoking Gun that’s O.K. with me. Let him get a taste of his own medicine.
Is there a better idiom to apply to this situation Bush 43 has found himself in? I’ve made a starting list and I invite you to add your thoughts:
What goes around comes around.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Hey man, it’s karma.
People who live in glass houses, etc.