Senate Puts Another Nail in the Coffin of the 4th
The National Security Surveillance Act, currently working its way through the rubberstamp halls of Congress, is simply remarkable in its fascist depth and breadth. But what is nearly as remarkable is the lack of response and outrage to this bit of authoritarian legislation that effectively kills the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. “[Senator Arlen] Specter’s bill concedes the government’s right to wiretap Americans without warrants, and allows the U.S. Attorney General to authorize, on his own, dragnet surveillance of Americans so long as the stated purpose of the surveillance is to monitor suspected terrorists or spies,” reports Wired.
Not only does the bill allow “the attorney general, or anyone he or she designates, to authorize widespread domestic spying, such as monitoring all instant-messaging systems in the country, so long as the government promises to delete anything not terrorism-related,” it also allows “unfettered wiretapping and physical searches without warrants.” If you believe the government deletes “anything not terrorism-related” and does not feed this data into its massive and long-standing matrix of snoop databases, I have a bridge to sell you. Our government, unchecked for decades, has kept a staggering pile of data on millions of citizens, particularly “terrorist” Americans opposed to the government.
As noted here on numerous occasions, the government has snooped in earnest on Americans for decades, beginning officially with the creation of the National Security state on November 4, 1952, and authorized earlier in a letter written by President Harry S. Truman in June of 1952. From the beginning, the NSA and the CIA have worked closely with telecoms, a fact highlighted recently with NSA snooping revelations. Now we are told Verizon executive vice president and general counsel William P. Barr began his career as a CIA “analyst” in the 1970s and went “on to become an assistant legislative counsel for the agency,” according to Brian Beutler, writing for Raw Story. “He has also held a number of other public positions since then, including those of domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and even U.S. Attorney General under George Herbert Walker Bush.”
When that position expired after Bill Clinton became President in 1993, Barr went to work as general counsel for GTE, the company that would later merge with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon Communications, where he now serves as executive vice president and general counsel. In those capacities, though, he has maintained ties with officials in Washington who have repeatedly called upon his testimony when crafting anti-terror legislation.
That testimony reveals a record of sympathy with the sorts of legally contentious activities the NSA is alleged to be conducting with its wiretapping and data mining programs.
After “everything changed” following nine eleven—that is to say, when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights became even more irrelevant than previously to our rulers—Barr “defended executive-branch war-time actions before the Senate Judiciary Committee, including controversial measures such as: the use of military tribunals to try suspected members of al Qaeda; suspension of criminal justice procedures which, he noted, ‘will frustrate our fight against al Qaeda’; and the withholding of operational details by the Attorney General of ongoing criminal investigations. The USA PATRIOT Act ultimately codified powers that closely mirror his suggestions, and he has since gone on record in support of that legislation as well…. President Bush’s chief rationale for ignoring FISA has been a contention, strikingly similar to Barr’s, that the urgency of terror cases does not allow enough time for the acquisition of surveillance warrants,” in other words the Fourth Amendment is a dead letter.
Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter and the Senate Judiciary Committee are in the process of embalming the Fourth Amendment once and for all, as the point here is not to monitor “al-Qaeda,” a documented intelligence contrivance, but snoop all opposition to the emergent fascist state.
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