Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Telecommunications, The Fourth Amendment, The Death of Freedom

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment

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 National Security Agency is and has been building a database of records of phone calls made and by whom. In order to achieve this they have demanded and received millions upon millions of phone records from the major telecommunications providers in the US. Most of the providers turned over the records. Qwest Communications refused & Bellsouth now denies they provided records.

Before we get in to the horrifying invasiveness of this let us first acknowledge that the NSA is currently operation outside the law. The Justice Department was trying to investigate domestic wiretapping being conducted by the NSA and were forced to shut down the inquiry because the NSA would not grant the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility security clearances to view the files of the wiretapping program. When you have government agencies operating extra-legally, without oversight, you are living in a tyrannical state. Checks and balances were built in to The Constitution to prevent exactly these kinds of abuses. When we break our own laws we are nowhere. They have a word for that kind of government, Facist.

The problem as I see it is not that the NSA wants to have this data. The problem is that they feel they have no need to go through Due Process of Law to obtain the information they believe they need. They threatened Qwest's government contracts when Qwest failed to capitulate. This sort of brazen coercive tactic reeks of an agency that has gotten too powerful for its own good, as did the F.B.I. under J. Edgar Hoover. The Fourteenth Amendment says, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." What this means in the context of law enforcement requesting information from companies is, THEY HAVE TO GET A WARRANT TO LEGALLY OBTAIN THIS INFORMATION. The NSA wouldn't go before a judge and request a warrant, they just demanded the info. They wouldn't even go before the secret FISA courts. There is a word for that, facism.

Any evidence gleaned from this data that produces a domestic arrest would be thrown out of court because if the beginning of your investigation happens because of illegally obtained data that illegal act taints your entire investigation. The legal concept is called "fruit of the poisonous tree." Theoretically the information obtained through this program is legally valueless because it is unusable in a court of law. This leads one to believe that the information is not to be used in a court. Domestically obtained evidence to possibly be used against people living within the borders of the US, possibly its own citizenry. The word for that, my fine friends, is facism.

If you read this story, or this one, or this one, you will get a general understanding of what is happening with the telecommunications companies and our government right now.

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.

-Benjamin Franklin

The sacrifice of freedom, even in an age of terrorism, is not a viable option for the self determination of the American people. Our government must work within our own laws to fight the evils that threaten us.

To those of you who say, "Freedom isn't free," I say it shouldn't be lazy either. Work differently, work smarter, work legally. Do not oppress the very people you are charged with protecting by violating their Constitutionally protected rights.

No 1 of Consequence

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