"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. AND TO RENDER THEM SAFE, THEIR MINDS MUST BE IMPROVED." - Thomas Jefferson, 'Notes on Virginia'.
Less than a year ago on this blog I pointed out there were likely "thousands of 4th amendment violations" thanks to the scurrilous NSA programs PRISM, MUSCULAR, XKeyscore. See e,g,
Now, we know there were millions, thanks to NSA troglodyte James Clapper's recent admissions of warrantless wiretaps. Before examining Clapper's admission (which was cloaked in a pseudo-legalese cover) let us note the 4th amendment is very clear on the limits of warrants and how they are issued. The specific wording is:
"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.”
Note, “secure in one’s person, house, papers, effects” implies PRIVACY! These are after all MY private papers, my private effects, my house, etc. If an inherent right to privacy was a myth then by all accounts being secure in one’s person, papers, effects wouldn’t matter. Hell, let the whole freakin’ world see ‘em! This is why in a fascist dictatorship “personal effects” don’t exist. “Personal papers” has no meaning. The state has full monopoly, de facto ownership on whatever the person has, even his own body. Hence, in fascist dictatorships, such as existed in Nazi Germany, all personal effects, papers could be seized by the Nazis on a whim or remote suspicion - under the Reich Laws. (The Reich laws, as Konrad Heiden notes, altered Weimar laws to render what had been originally illegal, legal.)
Clapper has finally admitted that the National Security Agency had a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a "legal authority" enabling it to search for US citizens' email and phone calls without a warrant. This was revealed in top-secret NSA documents provided to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.
The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans' communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provided the NSA with a "loophole" potentially allowing "warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans".
Now, we know - thanks to Clapper's admissions in his letter, the searches were indeed warrantless - and hence in violation of the 4th amendment. This is according to the most recent Guardian report,
According to Clapper, quoted above, NSA "performed warrantless searches on Americans' emails and phone calls."
We must not only thank Edward Snowden for the original revelations, but also Sen. Ron Wyden for keeping after Clapper to respond to his letters and 'fess up. (After all, Wyden already knew the little rat lied before a Senate Intelligence Committee last March when asked directly if the NSA conducted mass surveillance of Americans.)
Of course, to Clapper 'fessing up isn't the same as it is for the rest of us. NO, it means delivering a mealy-mouthed wad of euphemistic babble which - for the weaker minded- is designed to assuage any doubts that it was legal by baffling with bullshit. Clapper's exact words as reported by The Guardian:
"There have been queries, using US person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-US persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.
These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the Fisa court and consistent with the statute and the fourth amendment.”
Pay attention to the last sentence in particular, because this is where the attempted exculpation of his misbegotten agency resides. He claims the "queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the FISA court" but what were these anyway? In fact, nothing more than the merest fig leaf. The merest cover to defend the searches (i.e. one "end" of a phone call is in a foreign country, say Barbados).
Most of these came under Section 702 of the misnamed "Patriot Act" - which the traitors in congress also helped approve. As Clapper pointed out:
“As you know, when Congress reauthorized Section 702, the proposal to restrict such queries was specifically raised and ultimately not adopted,”
So congress punked out, When the opportunity arose to protect citizens' rights under the 4th amendment, congress shat on it, and refused to adopt the protections. Traitors! Let us also recall congress - instead of prosecuting the Bushites for their warrantless wiretapping - made those illegal searches LEGAL! Thus, they perverted the existing 1978 FISA law as fully as Hitler and the Nazis perverted the original Weimar laws into "Reich laws". The point is that using such a nefarious tactic any act which was once condemned as illegal can be made "legal" - all that's needed is the political will and power to do so. This is why Clapper insists in his letter that the procedures were "consistent with the statutes and the 4th amendment".
In fact they were not! The 4th amendment is clear in its wording - as I showed above. Individual warrants must be issued for individual acts. And no amount of perturbing the language or making laws that were once illegal, legal can alter that. In this sense, the laws that legalized the original warrantless wiretaps of the Bushites are themselves baseless and LAWLESS. They overturned the real laws that afforded genuine protections in return for mock laws.
Senators Wyden and (Mark) Udall, in their response to the Clapper bafflegab, were blunt:
“This is unacceptable. It raises serious constitutional questions, and poses a real threat to the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. If a government agency thinks that a particular American is engaged in terrorism or espionage, the fourth amendment requires that the government secure a warrant or emergency authorization before monitoring his or her communications. This fact should be beyond dispute,”
If congress really had the interests of Americans at heart, and the protection of their 4th amendment rights, they'd have prosecuted the Bushite criminals, as they ought to have for their torture and rendition exercises - and illegal wars. But they punked out! They refused to exercise their authority to uphold the actual laws, much as the Nazis - once in power- overturned the existing Weimar legal infrastructure in the Enabling Act.
The tragedy is that by legalizing lawlessness - as regards the Constitution and citizen rights - the country has proceeded down the path of a "gangster state"- to use the words of deep politics authors Michael Parenti, as well as Chris Hedges, see e.g. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/bradley_manning_and_the_gangster_state_20130821
The Senators final comment is one which to which we all need to pay heed:
“Today’s admission by the Director of National Intelligence is further proof that meaningful surveillance reform must include closing the back-door searches loophole and requiring the intelligence community to show probable cause before deliberately searching through data collected under section 702 to find the communications of individual Americans."