Last week Conservative Talk Show host Vicki McKenna took on Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson on immigration, NSA spying on American Citizens and the IRS. Most of the time I agree with Ron but here he is dead wrong.
The thrust of the arguments in favor of the NSA collecting metadata on private citizens is “the war on terror” and such anti-constitutional acts are necessary for safety and security. The problem with this argument is that if we must give up essential liberty to obtain safety then the terrorist have already won. They have destroyed the essential liberty that has made our country great. It ignores a fundamental right guaranteed by the 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.
Now there are those who argue like Ron Johnson that they are not wiretapping and listening to your conversations, but they are building a database of all your associations, they know who your email contacts are, who you have contacted via cellphone etc. Ron stated that the government can only look at these records only with the permission of the FISA court. Of course this is not a normal court where the records are under the scrutiny of the public. This is a “star chamber” type court where only the government participates behind closed doors.
Each application for one of these surveillance warrants (called a FISA warrant) is made before an individual judge of the court. Like a grand jury, the court is not an adversarial court: the federal government is the only party to its proceedings.
Can you imagine liberal politicians declaring tea party patriots terrorists and looking into the associations of active members?
Right now leftist cheer at such actions but how would they have felt during one of the modern day witch hunts of the last century, namely the McCarthy era.
Imagine if the government had amassed such databases during that period. The constitution was written to protect the individual from the government. These are not negative liberties as espoused by president Obama but protection from the abuse of power. I find myself agreeing with liberals like Bob Beckel and disagreeing with libertarians like Greg Gutfeld
The Constitution calls for a warrant to be issued before seizing evidence, not seizing evidence and then getting permission. Even in Wisconsin we see such McCartyistic tactics requiring contractors to divulge affiliations stating that the information will not effect the issuance of contracts (wink wink).
“I think it would be a good idea to know if the bidders are contributing to political efforts which go into organizations that may be lobbying for certain kinds of outcomes or working against the interests of the city,” Soglin told me in an interview. “It is simply the idea that sunshine is good.” . . . Legislative action since Gov. Scott Walker’s election — including Act 10 in 2011 curtailing the collective bargaining power of most public workers, and more recently, legislation setting levy limits for municipalities and restricting cities’ powers in tenant-landlord law — got Soglin wondering if companies supporting Republican causes would rather lobby against the city or do business with it. He’s betting that exposing such activities might prompt some companies to curtail them.
Four minutes into the following video Judge Andrew Nepolitiano discusses why the fourth amendment was enacted in historical context.