Getting the calls - the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and Obama Administrations access to phone lines


Obama v the Fourth Amendment
Obama v the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution 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”

Last week, the British newspaper The Guardian, reported that a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court order, was signed by Judge Roger Vinson, commanding Verizon to turn over all telephone records for all phone lines - both land and wireless – for each and every one of their customers, both private and commercial.

The top secret warrant is said to cover all local calls made within the US as well as calls made abroad.

The Obama Administration has defended such actions sighting national security concerns and believes that such broad surveillance was made legal under the "business records" provision of the USA Patriot Act.

But do these warrants fully square with the fundamental meaning of the Fourth Amendment?

And if not - if we are not in full compliance with the Constitution which so proudly binds this great nation together, then who or what are we really trying to protect with such practices?

To square with the Fourth Amendment with such surveillance specific questions must be addressed:

Are such warrants reasonable? Is there probable cause to track the calls of every person in America?  Does any oath or affirmation particularly describe the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized? Do these practices make you secure upon your person, home, papers or effects?

In other words are these broad surveillance powers consistent with our constitutional guarantees or is it a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment?

I certainly understand the need for national security in an environment where terrorists and criminality threaten our safety and well-being. But the price of freedom always carries a greater risk of certain types of danger. Living in a country with constant government surveillance and ever broadening police powers may be safer from criminals and terrorists, but other more ominous dangers lurk behind the curtain of governments who require ever increasing power and secrecy.

Benjamin Franklin once proclaimed: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

But then what the hell did the Founding Fathers know about safety, freedom or liberty anyway.


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