The Washington Post has reported that a provision of the Patriot Act which is supposed to be limited to national security and terrorism investigations is being used in narcotics cases.
The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) will share that data and whatever else is swept up with it with other intelligence agencies including the FBI (without applying any screens for privacy).
This means that domestic law enforcement will have access to massive American communications that are obtained without warrants. The FBI agents don’t need any ‘national security’ reason to put your basic information into the NSA’s data trove. They can poke around endlessly during routine investigations as described in The Washington Post Thursday.
The information can be used by police to lock up citizens for routine crimes.
The NSA has given law enforcement these opportunities to circumvent the Fourth Amendment before and then advises them to “misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information, according to the Post article.
We have given the federal government enormous power, including the power to circumvent the Fourth Amendment. Without a Fourth Amendment, the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth will fall.
The FBI is quietly revising their NSA rules at the same time Congress is putting out bills that water down the Fourth Amendment.
The rules are secret and they have been approved by a secret court.
The Fourth Amendment is under serious assault. The Fourth Amendment reads:
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 Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments guarantee our due process, our right to a jury trial, the government’s obligation to provide a speedy trial, and prohibits excessive punishment. They all depend on the Fourth Amendment and once the Fourth is destroyed, the others fall. The Fourth constrains the government and secures your property.
Property covers more than physical possessions. It is your rights to freedom of speech, religion, the sweat of your brow, your thoughts.
The Fourth protects all of these rights and possessions and we are all safe from unreasonable searches and seizures because of it. Reasonableness requires “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” and all five must be present for due process.
Without this, the government can seize anything, imprison anyone.
If this can be violated, nothing else is safe.
That is true of all our Amendments. If one falls, they all fall.