Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Bill of Rights, Amendment IV: Right of search and seizure regulated:
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.
I’ve written about this several times: the National Defense Authorization Act; the increased and widespread “militarization” of riot geared police, and of restrictions on activists. That’s directly related to the significant federal, state and local actions that seem to consider the “right of search and seizure” regulation optional.
Here’s populist Jim Hightower, in a February 15 piece, via OpEdNews:
Since 9/11, this bunch (‘politicos’) has screeched non-stop that the only way to make the American people secure in this terrifying age is to jackhammer the word ‘secure’ out of the Fourth Amendment … .
The founders … believed that genuine security for a democratic people comes from strengthening their right and ability to resist the autocratic impulses of the authorities. By deliberately placing ‘secure’ in this key Bill of Rights passage, they certainly did not intend for it to be twisted into a meek call for ever-expanding police power to ‘protect’ the citizenry, but instead to give citizens essential legal guarantees to protect themselves from police power.
Hightower adds some historical perspective, and provides details about what’s happening now. Another snippet:
National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. This is a massive bill that okays spending $662 billion in the next fiscal year on the Pentagon’s ‘everywhere and forever’ war on terrorists … . But, what makes this year’s war authorization … outright un-American is that it explicitly expands the military’s battlefield into the USA itself … .
Tucked deep inside the NDAA is section 1031, a legislative atrocity that empowers any president … to order the military to sweep in, seize, and imprison anyone anywhere (including any place in America) and hold them indefinitely without charging them with any crime or putting them on trial.
Standard responses at this point include: We have to trust the government, they know more than we do; if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about; this is why we have to elect Republicans / Democrats, since (fill in blank with your preference) will do a better job; this is why we have to arm ourselves. And one that makes sense to me, this is why we have to take responsibility as citizens and voters and activists. Although there will always be exceptions, in general, expecting federal agencies, the military and police departments to give up power, and new and improved tools to enforce that power, is about as likely as expecting a newly elected president to give up executive powers.
About the NDAA, Hightower writes:
Pushed by the super-hawk GOP House, a mere handful of congressional and White House leaders negotiated in secret late last year to slip 1031 into the bill with no public input nor a recorded vote. Publicly, Obama made a show of opposing it, even threatening a veto. But Sen. Carl Levin, a key negotiator for Democrats, refutes that pose, saying the White House had demanded that American citizens be included as proper targets of the provision. …
Obama quietly signed it on December 31.
More from Hightower, this about the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, the “FBIs official manual governing the work of its 14,000 agents.” The Obama administration revised the guide last summer.
Those … agents gained new powers to conduct an ‘assessment’ of the connections and actions of any US citizen or group even if they are not suspected of criminal activity or terrorist ties. Agents were newly authorized to burrow into people’s trash, secretly search their databases, and even compel them to take lie detector tests – all without requiring the agency to make a record of the intrusive probe. Also, specially trained ‘surveillance squads’ can now secretly tail these assessment targets any time, with no warrant required.
And of course, there’s the Patriot Act.
Section 215 … lets the FBI grab ‘any tangible thing’ it considers ‘relevant’ to a terrorism investigation – your library records, phone calls, emails, credit card data, websites visited, etc. …
Section 206, known as the ‘roving John Doe wiretap,’ … erases the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that the government state specifically who or what place is to be searched and what it’s looking for before it can get a warrant. …
Section 505 hands … invasive power to FBI agents through ‘national security letters.’ These … documents compel phone, internet, financial, and other corporations to hand over all data on the private communications and transactions of their customers.
About “tweets and twits” and drones, Hightower writes:
… last February the … Department of Homeland Security issued a little-noticed announcement that it has set up a permanent Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness program. It’s a computerized system that routinely monitors the postings of all users of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other electronic communications by private citizens….
… the next must-have toy for assorted police agencies is the unmanned aerial vehicle, better known as drones … if the authorities have their way. …
… the drone doesn’t just monitor a particular person or criminal activity, it can continuously spy on an entire city, with no warrant to restrict its inevitable invasion of innocent people’s privacy.
Unlike money, the tone at the top does “trickle down.” Actually, it’s more like a flood. For examples, see TruthOut, “On the News With Thom Hartmann: Arizona Passes a Law to Establish Its Own Militia …”; Tampa Bay, “Guard mobilizes for RNC” (not a new thing, but the context is important); TruthOut, “Face Masks, Snipers and Aerial Surveillance: Chicago’s Newest Anti-Protest Measures Revealed”; The Nation, “Manhattan District Attorney Subpoenas Occupy Protester’s Twitter Account”; and OWS News, “Pack the Courtroom this Friday for OWS,” regarding trespass charges.
( Error 404 poster via Occupii )