On May 16, 2013 President Obama responded to the emerging scandal involving the Department of Justice’s warrantless spying on AP journalists by stating that a “balance” needs to be maintained between national security and freedom of the press (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/16/obama-ap-scandal_n_3287165.html).
Obama’s stance on the DOJ warrantless spying is in clear violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment is unequivocal; it gives no consideration for national security. This is the same argument Richard Nixon tried to get away with under Watergate when trying to explain his spying and break-ins.
The fourth amendment states: “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.”
Prior to the 1760’s General writs were used to search homes and seize property. In 1776 Virginia passed the declaration of rights which prohibited the use of general writs (warrants). The Fourth Amendment was based upon this. The Virginia Declaration of Rights states:
“That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted”
The backlash against general warrants was fueled by the Excise Act of 1754. As explained by Wikipedia,” The Excise Act of 1754 gave tax collectors unlimited powers to interrogate colonists concerning their use of goods subject to customs and permitted the use of a general warrant known as a writ of assistance, allowing them to search the homes of colonists and seize “prohibited and uncustomed” goods.”
The historical context of general warrants and their abuse dates back to 18th century England, as detailed in Wikipedia:
“The 1760s saw a growth in the intensity of litigation against state officers, who, using general warrants, conducted raids in search of materials relating to John Wilkes‘ publications attacking both government policies and the King himself. The most famous of these cases involved John Entick, whose home was forcibly entered by the King’s Messenger Nathan Carrington, along with others, pursuant to a warrant issued by George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax authorizing them “to make strict and diligent search for . . . the author, or one concerned in the writing of several weekly very seditious papers … and seized printed charts, pamphlets and other materials.”
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
The sole purpose of the Bill of Rights was to PROTECT the rights and liberties of citizens from over-reach by the government. There was no consideration given to the needs of government, or national security. The Supreme Court ruled such during the 1970’s when Nixon used the same argument to excuse his criminal behavior.
Yet there are few voices in government vociferously protesting Obama’s ongoing conduct which demonstrates contempt for Constitutional rights and the rule of law and the occupation of the government by dark forces of corporate power. This includes drone strikes, kill lists, indefinite detention of Americans, and HR 347 which criminalizes protests on Federal property. Neither liberal democrats nor conservatives who claim to support limited government and liberty are up in arms. They have become part of the corporate state.
We are at a juncture in history where the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government (corrupted by corporate money) have been enacting and supporting policies which violate the Fourth Amendment while showing contempt for the rights of Citizens. In fact, one could say we are subjects of our corporate government, not free citizens.
This includes FISA (warrantless wire tapping) , the war on drugs ( asset forfeiture laws) and the Supreme Court’s decision to allow strip-searches for minor offenses http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/us/justices-approve-strip-searches-for-any-offense.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
The Fourth Amendment receives little deference in contrast to the second amendment despite the fact that it has far greater impact on the liberty of citizens.
Barrack Obama’s pursuit of AP reporters, Bradley Manning. Julian Assange, John Kiriakou and Thomas Drake are remarkably similar to King George’s use of general warrants to pursue John Entick in the 1760’s.
The passage of laws against General warrants by Massachusetts and Virginia were in response to abuses of citizens’ rights and ultimately lead to the passage of the Fourth Amendment. Obama’s belief that he is above the law is exactly the type of conduct the Fourth Amendment was designed to protect against. Perhaps it is time to impeach this scoundrel and send a message to the corporations that control him that WE WILL NOT TAKE this abuse any longer.