Ignoring my desire to stay out of the political fray, I see an absolute and pressing need to share my feelings of outrage at the ever-evolving revelation of just how deep the US Government has gone in illegally listening-in (And presumably reading-in) on its citizens private conversations and communications.
This blog is not a rant. It is a careful analysis of the laws, rules, and right that we, the American public have. I encourage all feedback as long as it civil and pertinent.
Part I – My Views On Lawful Interception
Part II – The United States Constitution
One of the best reasons to live in the USA, if not THE best, is the existence, foundation, and insistence on implementation of the US Constitution. In particular interest to this entry, I refer the reader to Amendment Four, part of The Bill of Rights:
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 Amendment, issued in part due to abuses by British and other forces, addressed one of the causes of theAmerican Revolution. That is just how important this topic was, and is today.
Part III – Attempts at Diluting the US Constitution
In 2006, Judge Richard Posner of the US Federal Bench, issued a statement. One with which I respectfully, yet wholeheartedly, disagree. The good judge stated that The US Constitution is Not a Suicide Pact . My question to the Judge and those who would quote him is simple: If not, what is it?
The foundation of our Constitution and its strength comes from Moral Trust; from Moral Compass; from Moral Belief. Not referring to the Honorable Judge, who is deserving, according to that same Constitution, to his own opinion, I believe that those who would subvert the Constitution for their own gains are deserving of scorn. Those who manipulate it for their own purposes – to punishment.
This Suicide Pact is what created a nation. It is what led brothers to arms, mothers to fight, and ultimately children to Liberty.
Don’t Tread on My Constitution.
Part IV – US Federal Law
A well known, yet seldom read statute, is the US Public Law 18 U.S.C. § 1385 which was passed on June 18, 1878, celebrating this year its 131st birthday. This law, known as the Posse Comitatus Act is not merely a devise at a Bruce Willis movie. It is choice we, the People, made.
Among other statements in the Law, the following appears:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to ensure that any activity (including the provision of any equipment or facility or the assignment or detail of any personnel) under this chapter does not include or permit direct participation by a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity unless participation in such activity by such member is otherwise authorized by law.
Both of these US Laws forbid the use of the US Military (a temporary allowance was legally made to assist recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina) to fulfill, in the US, any function reserved, or typically fulfilled by, law enforcement agencies.
To address concerns about Terrorism, the US Congress enacted another law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Amended at least three times, it created an update to allow the US Government some, carefully measured, ability to listen in on suspect foreign agents. According to Wikipedia:
…The act was created to provide Judicial and congressional oversight of the government’s covert surveillance activities of foreign entities and individuals in the United States, while maintaining the secrecy needed to protect national security…
Part V: What Did We Find Out?
That while the National Security Agency is, indeed, one of the elements in the US Department of Defense, former Vice President Richard (Dick) Cheney has actively used their resources to listen-in, wiretap, collect, analyze and share information about American’s talking, viewing, surfing, emailing, chatting and…. habits.
All the while:
lying to Congress;
instructing his staff to lie to Congress;
instructing staff in other departments of the Government (for example: The Justice Department) to withhold information and lie to their own bosses, and Congress;
And yes, I assume that he lied to the Chief Executive too, especially about the size of the net in this case.
Part VI – Stupid Results From A Dumb Program
According to CNN,
a report Friday [July 10 2009] by the inspectors general of the CIA, the Justice Department, the Pentagon and other agencies found that some FBI and CIA agents were frustrated by the secrecy surrounding the program.
…most intelligence officials interviewed for the report had trouble "citing specific instances where PSP reporting had directly contributed to counterterrorism successes.
Part VII – Call for Action
Mr. President Obama and Honorable member of Congress: We must wipe this very dirty slate clean. Even if there were convictions based upon the use of such tainted evidence, they would and should have been thrown out. We must:
- Cancel this vast expansion immediately
- Investigate whom, in addition to Cheney, championed this course of action (yes, include Mr. Yoo.)
- Charge the responsible for crimes against The People of these United States. And it does NOT matter WHY they did what they did, only that it was done.