A Conspiracy of Silence Assaults Privacy
A Conspiracy of Silence Assaults Privacy By Andrew P. Napolitano – Lew Rockwell
During the past three weeks, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law vast new powers for the NSA and the FBI to spy on innocent Americans and selectively to pass on to law enforcement the fruits of that spying.
Those fruits can now lawfully include all fiber-optic data transmitted to or in the United States, such as digital recordings of all landline and mobile telephone calls and copies in real time of all text messages and emails and banking, medical and legal records electronically stored or transmitted.
All this bulk surveillance had come about because the National Security Agency convinced federal judges meeting in secret that they should authorize it. Now Congress and the president have made it the law of the land.
This enactment came about notwithstanding the guarantee of the right to privacy — the right to be left alone — articulated in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and elsewhere. Though the surveillance expansion passed the Senate by just one vote, it apparently marks a public policy determination that the Constitution can be ignored or evaded by majority consent whenever it poses an obstacle to the government’s purposes.
The language of the Fourth Amendment is an intentional obstacle to the government in deference to human dignity and personal liberty. It 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.”
This specific language was expressly written to prevent the bulk suspicionless surveillance that the British government had used against the colonists. British courts in London issued general warrants to British soldiers in America, authorizing them to search wherever they wished and seize whatever they found. These warrants were not based on probable cause, and they did not describe the place to be searched or the people or things to be seized.
The Colonial reaction to the British use of general warrants was to take up arms and fight the American Revolution.