FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

4th Amendment RIP

by CAROL NORRIS

The 4th Amendment, an unwavering champion of our right to privacy, died on 18 November 2002. The amendment, adopted by the convention of states on 17 September 1787, was 215. The 4th tirelessly fought to guarantee that “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 4th has had health issues over the years, struggling with those that have tried to weaken it. Most recently, it received a life-threatening blow from the USA Patriot Act. But lower courts, concerned about possible civil liberties abuses, tended to the injury by trying to curtail some of the Act’s power.

On the 18th, the ruling of the lower courts was overridden by an all but unknown court: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which is the appeals arm of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The appeals panel includes three men that were appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The courts meet in secret at the Justice Department. Initially, the FISC ruled the surveillance privileges sought by John Ashcroft after 9.11 “were not reasonably designed” to ensure the privacy rights of citizens. It cited many previous abuses of surveillance laws. But government lawyers sought a review. And the appeals panel determined the authorized surveillance measures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) are “reasonable.”

And so, with the courage characteristic of its life, the 4th succumbed to this ruling at its home in the pages of the Constitution, surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Ann Beeson of the Civil Liberties Union, a long-time supporter of the 4th stated: “As of today, the attorney general can suspend the ordinary requirements of the 4th Amendment in order to listen to phone calls, read e-mails, and conduct secret searches of Americans’ homes and offices.” Those that are being monitored won’t know it. So, in essence, there is no mechanism in place to challenge the surveillance. And currently, only the government can do that.

John Ashcroft was reportedly seen shortly after the decision dancing around in circles on tiptoe, hugging himself while singing, “hot damn, hot damn, hot damn.” On record, he called the ruling revolutionary and said, “the decision allows the Department of Justice to free immediately our agents and prosecutors in the field to work more closely and cooperatively in achieving our core mission…the mission of preventing terrorists attacks.” As it stands, the definition of a “terrorist” is broad enough to include almost anybody.

Even if the ruling had gone the other way, the 4th would’ve surely lost its life at the hands of the likes of John Poindexter and his new post-9.11 brainchild: the Information Awareness Office (IAO), a new pentagon operation with a $200 million budget that Poindexter will head. Poindexter, retired rear admiral, and former national security advisor is most remembered for another of his brainchildren: funding anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua by selling arms to Iran. He was released from the jail sentence he was serving for lying to Congress about this because it was decided his evidence warranted congressional immunity.

The premiere program of the IAO will be called the Total Information Awareness Program. This program, if it so desires, can develop a dossier on every single American, unearthing and tracking nearly everything a person does with little or no need to explain itself and its motivations. This unchecked, broad-sweeping power is something our dearly departed amendment would be greatly dismayed to see.

The 4th was loved and respected by the citizens throughout the US that it protected. “How will I ever feel comfortable exercising my 1st amendment rights without the protections of the 4th?” asked one mourner, crying into her copy of the Constitution. Fearing repercussions, she refused to state her name. “I always knew I could count on it,” she continued. “It was always there for me.” Another sobbed, “El Cuarto – that’s what we used to call it- was such a big part of my life. It’s what made our country different from those police states. What are we going to do now?”

What indeed. The 4th Amendment will be sorely missed.

It is survived by 26 sibling amendments. The besieged 1st, 6th, and 14th amendments are also fighting for their lives. And the 2nd continues to be held hostage by special interests.

The surviving amendments ask that in lieu of flowers, you send your congressperson(s) your heartfelt sentiments.

CAROL NORRIS is psychotherapist and freelance writer. She can be contacted at writing4justice@planet-save.com

 

February 11, 2016
Bruce Lesnick
Flint: A Tale of Two Cities
Ajamu Baraka
Beyonce and the Politics of Cultural Dominance
Shamus Cooke
Can the Establishment Fix Its Bernie Sanders Problem?
John Hazard
The Pope in Mexico: More Harm Than Good?
Joyce Nelson
Trudeau & the Saudi Arms Deal
Zarefah Baroud
The Ever-Dangerous Mantra “Drill, Baby Drill”
Anthony DiMaggio
Illinois’ Manufactured Budget Crisis
Colin Todhunter
Indian Food and Agriculture Under Attack
Binoy Kampmark
Warring Against Sanders: Totalitarian Thinking, Feminism and the Clintons
Robert Koehler
Presidential Politics and the American Soul
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: The Banality of Evil on Steroids
Cesar Chelala
Is Microcephaly in Children Caused by the Zika Virus or by Pesticides?
February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail