It’s simple: We place the live crabs in a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat. This “slow cooking” does the trick every time … and the hapless crabs are none the wiser.
I wonder if something similar is happening to us right now when it comes to our rights and liberties?
Consider these recent news developments:
- Saturday’s news: “A federal judge has ruled that Google, Inc. must comply with the FBI’s warrantless demands for customer data. ” http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/06/01/judge-orders-google-to-give-customer-data-to-fbi/.
- Yesterday’s news: “Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order.
And let’s not forget this other news shocker: “The Supreme Court upholds Maryland legislation allowing law enforcement officials to collect DNA from any person detained or arrested – even before they’re charged with anything.”
Sometimes it’s easier to see what’s happening from the vantage of distance. My brother, Nelson Nones, writes me the following from outside the United States:
It’s time for Americans of all political stripes to stand up and put a stop to this.
Conservatives should be alarmed over the plainly obvious violations of our Constitution, the supreme law of our land:
- Amendment 1: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …”
- Amendment 4: “The right of the people to be secure in their … 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 … things to be seized.”
Non-conservatives should be just as alarmed. In fact, every citizen should be alarmed.
Anyone who thinks Chinese censorship and the Great Chinese Firewall are bad things, but supports what our government is doing as described in recent news on account of “security,” is a complete hypocrite.
Resorting to legalistic “workarounds” is no less hypocritical. For example, some might claim that governments have unfettered legal power to engage in surveillance of electronic data because it doesn’t violate the “right of people to be secure in their … papers.” However, any such interpretation is plainly contrary to the framers’ intent: Intellectual property existed only on paper in 1791, when the Bill of Rights came into effect!
Others might maintain that warrantless government surveillance, backed up by gag orders to keep the surveillance secret, is “reasonable” in national security situations involving either domestic subversion or foreign intelligence operations.
This was the argument the Executive Branch put forward to the Supreme Court in Katz v. United States (1967). But the Supreme Court unanimously overruled the Executive Branch by holding that, at least in cases of domestic subversive investigations, compliance with the warrant provisions of the Fourth Amendment was required.
Justice Lewis Powell, writing for the Court, said that whether or not a search was reasonable was a question which derived much of its answer from the warrant clause; except in a few narrowly circumscribed classes of situations, only those searches conducted pursuant to warrants were reasonable (refer to Warrantless “National Security” Electronic Surveillance, http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment4/annotation05.html#1).
In other words, the government attempted to legitimatize warrantless electronic surveillance through the courts, but lost. Case closed.
To Nelson’s comments, I would add that the Supreme Court’s upholding of Maryland’s sweeping DNA law (on a 5-4 decision), means that your and my DNA can be collected and kept on file with the government for the rest of our lives — and who knows what they could do with that information. Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia’s arguments in this case are strong, persuasive – and withering.
The question now before us is … what are we going to do about it? My brother proposes civil disobedience, if necessary, to wipe away these blemishes – even going so far as leaking the contents of National Security Letters.
Would anyone care to offer alternative ideas – ones that work more within the system? Your thoughts and comments are welcomed – and you can keep them anonymous if you wish!