Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Fourth Amendment

Passage of the Freedom Act Assures Continuation of the Surveillance State

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 15, 2015: 

Passage of The Freedom Act in the House on Wednesday, May 13, 338-88, was for show only. The bill with real teeth that would have done something substantial about rolling back the surveillance state is collecting dust in Speaker John Boehner’s inbox.

Freedom Act 2.0 is even weaker than the one the House passed last year, which the Senate essentially ignored until it was too close to the midterms for it to vote on. It does not, as sponsor Rep. James Sensenbrenner hoped it would, end the surveillance state, nor even slow it down. It merely shifts the collection center from Utah to the phone companies. Under the bill,

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Freedom Act Passes House, 338-88; Senate Likely to Ignore it

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, May 14, 2015: 

On Wednesday the House overwhelmingly approved the USA Freedom Act, 338-88, putting pressure on the Senate to approve it before the offensive Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act — the one that the government says allows unlimited surveillance of Americans’ communications metadata — expires on June 1.

The government’s interpretation of that law was ruled illegal by a federal court a few days earlier, putting more pressure on senators who support the surveillance state.

The current House bill is substantially weaker than one with a similar overall purpose that the House passed in the last Congress, which never made it out of the Senate before the November midterm elections. The new bill doesn’t end snooping. It merely

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Supreme Court: Police Cannot Prolong a Traffic Stop

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 22, 2015:

A little after midnight on March 27, 2012, Dennys Rodriguez was driving his Mercury Mountaineer on Nebraska’s State Highway 275 when he swerved onto the shoulder to avoid hitting a pothole. He was on the shoulder for perhaps one or two seconds before returning to the roadway, but that was enough to catch the attention of Nebraska police officer Morgan Struble.

He pulled Rodriguez over and conducted the usual and customary check of his driver’s license, insurance, and registration. After it was all checked out, Officer Struble wrote Rodriguez a warning based on a Nebraska law prohibiting driving on the shoulder of a state highway.

Struble then stepped out of bounds,

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Wikipedia, ACLU sue NSA over Constitutional Violations

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 13, 2015:

On Tuesday Wikimedia (the foundation behind Wikipedia) joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) for violating the Constitution and exceeding authority granted to it by Congress. The lawsuit

challenges the suspicionless seizure and searching of internet traffic by the National Security Agency (NSA) on U.S. soil….

 

The NSA is seizing Americans’ communications en masse while they are in transit [in the network of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that make up the internet], and it is searching the contents of substantially all international text-based communications – and many domestic communications as well – for tens of thousands of search terms.

 

The surveillance exceeds the scope of the authority that Congress provided in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) and violates the First and Fourth Amendments.

Because Wikipedia serves as an anonymous source of information for more than 500 million readers every month, and because its content is continually being updated by an estimated 75,000 contributors from around the world every month, such unrestricted and blatant invasion of privacy is having a dampening effect on Wiki and its customers, according to the lawsuit.

For example,

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Wiki Lawsuit Highlights NSA’s All-Inclusive, Unconstitutional Spying

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 11, 2015:

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Ale...

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Alexander

As reported by The New American on Tuesday, Wikipedia has joined forces with the ACLU in representing itself and other groups violated by the NSA’s unrestrained data collection by suing the agency.

The lawsuit holds that the NSA has — by its relentless, warrantless, and suspicionless secret acquisition of Wikipedia’s private customer information — not only infringed on the precious freedoms of those customers guaranteed in the First and Fourth Amendments, but also exceeded authority granted to it by Congress under the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act.

Early in President George W. Bush’s first term, the NSA was given essentially carte blanche to

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Patriot Act’s Illegal Section 215 due to Expire June 1

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 18, 2015:

The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is set to expire June 1, and each side in the upcoming battle to renew, reform, or let expire this unconstitutional abridgement of freedoms is rolling out its arguments.

Section 215 is often referred to as the Patriot Act’s “library records” provision because it allows the FBI to order a library or any other source to produce, without a warrant showing probable cause (as required under the Fourth Amendment), all “tangible things” belonging to its target of interest including “books, records, papers, documents, and other items.” That includes books borrowed and websites visited by the target while at the library. Niceties demanded by the Fourth Amendment are ignored in Section 215 as long as the FBI “specifies” that its order is “for an authorized investigation … to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

One of those favoring renewal of Section 215 is Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

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Police Have for Years Used Radar Scanners to See Into Homes

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 21, 2015:

After serving jail time for committing an armed robbery, Steven Denson was out on parole. When he failed to report to his parole officer, authorities, after an intensive search, were about to conclude that Denson was gone for good.

Eventually, however, they found that Denson had opened an account for utilities services in Wichita, Kansas. Police obtained an arrest warrant and went out to see if he was home. It had just snowed and they noted footprints in the backyard and the utility meter spinning, giving them reasonable cause to believe that Denson was home.

Just to make sure, however, one of the officers pulled out his

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Dollree Mapp, Defendant in Landmark Fourth Amendment Case, Dead at 91

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 10, 2014: 

3,927 days Earl Warren from 1943 to 1953

Chief Justice Earl Warren

When Dollree Mapp answered the door on May 23, 1957, she had no idea of the impact her next move would have on jurisprudence in the United States. 

At her door were three local police officers who were searching for a suspect in a bombing, and they asked permission to enter her home, having been given information that he might be hiding there. She asked them if they had a search warrant. When they said no, she refused entry. 

Two officers left, leaving one behind to maintain surveillance. Three hours later the two officers returned, along with several others who demanded entry into her home. At that point, according to Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark, writing for the majority in Mapp v. Ohio, 

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Lawsuit Filed in Homeschool Pepper Spray Incident

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 3, 2014:

Logo of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Logo of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

In September 2011, a social services bureaucrat in Nodaway County, Missouri, responding to an anonymous complaint that the home belonging to Jason and Laura Hagan was “messy,” arrived at their front door to do an investigation into the complaint. Initially unaware that the  bureaucrat needed to provide them a search warrant beforehand, the Hagans let her in to inspect their home.

Following the visit, the Hagans, who homeschool their three children, asked the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for some advice. The Hagans were advised that if anyone from social services showed up in the future, or anyone else for that matter, they should demand a

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Warrantless Taking of Drivers’ Blood Samples Ruled Unconstitutional

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals )

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 1, 2014:

At about 2:00 a.m. on October 3, 2010, Missouri motorist Tyler McNeely was stopped by a highway patrolman for speeding and weaving. After failing several field sobriety tests, McNeely was asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, which he refused. He was immediately arrested and taken to a local hospital in handcuffs, where he was forced to submit to having blood drawn to check his blood alcohol level — all without a warrant. McNeely went to court claiming his Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

The Fourth Amendment says: “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 searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Upon appeal, his case was heard by the Supreme Court in April of 2013, which agreed that

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The Privacy Pendulum is Swinging back Towards Freedom

With Apple’s announcement of its new iPhone 6 10 days ago also came the announcement of an upgrade of its operating software – the iOS 8 – that now makes it impossible for law enforcement to break the code and retrieve the phone’s private information, even if it has a search warrant. On its website, Apple said:

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Leahy Offers Weak Bill to Curb NSA Eavesdropping on Americans

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 30, 2014:

English: Official photo of Senator Patrick Lea...

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

On Tuesday, Senator Patrick Leahy (shown, D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced his version of the USA Freedom Act intended to strengthen a similar bill passed by the House last May. It’s scarcely an improvement and likely won’t be taken up before November, if at all in this congress.

But Leahy was optimistic nonetheless, saying that his bill, if enacted, “would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since … the USA Patriot Act 13 years ago.” That was easy for this hard-left Democrat to say, as there has been no reform of the unconstitutional Patriot Act since it was passed. In fact, without revelations provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, even these modest “reforms” would never have been presented. Without Snowden, the NSA would have continued collecting every last piece of communications data it could and storing it for future reference at one or more of its vast collection facilities around the country. Since the bill was presented so late in this Congress, it is virtually certain no action will be taken on it.

The House bill that was passed back in May was so full of loopholes and modifications by last minute amendments as to make the effort essentially ludicrous. Although offered jointly in October 2013 by Leahy and his House counterpart, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin (the author of the Patriot Act), only the House bill ever saw the light of day. At the time, Sensenbrenner expressed great hopes for his bill:

Following 9/11, the USA Patriot Act … has helped keep Americans safe by ensuring information is shared among those responsible for defending our country and by enhancing the tools the intelligence community needs to identify and track terrorists.

But somewhere along the way, the balance between security and privacy was lost…. Washington must regain Americans’ trust in their government. The USA Freedom Act [I am offering] is an essential first step.

That first step was more like a stumble. Under the bill, according to The Guardian, “the government will still be able to collect phone data on Americans, pending a judge’s individualized order based on ‘reasonable articulable suspicion’ — the standard preferred by the NSA (National Security Agency) — of wrongdoing.” This is a far cry from the “probable cause” requirement demanded in the Fourth Amendment, but that’s only the beginning.

The bill purports to modify Section 715 of the Patriot Act while saying nothing about Section 702, which allows worldwide surveillance by the NSA. The bill allows for the continuous collection of Americans’ telephone records, according to the Open Technology Institute. Most grievously, the bill extended the Patriot Act until December of 2017.

Once the House passed its USA Freedom Act, 303 to 121, those opposed, including Republicans Darrell Issa, Ted Poe, and Raul Labrador and Democrat Zoe Lofgren expressed their disappointment with it. Said Lofgren, “[This] bill will actually not end bulk collection, regrettably.” It shifts collection responsibilities from the NSA to the telephone companies to which the NSA has virtually unlimited access, so it’s a cosmetic change only. The bill requires the NSA to get permission from the FISA Court, but FISA is not known for having a high regard for the freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights.

When Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) saw what the House had wrought, he said he was “gravely concerned that the changes that have been made to the House version of this bill have watered it down so far that it fails to protect Americans from suspicionless mass surveillance.”

Not surprisingly, the White House endorsed the watered-down version of the bill:

The Administration strongly supports … the USA Freedom Act…. The Administration applauds and appreciates the strong bipartisan effort that led to the formulation of this bill, which heeds the President’s call on this important issue.

The bill ensures our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the Nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected.

Especially grievous is the power that continues to be granted to the so-called FISA “court.” This is the secret court that first came to light when Edward Snowden in 2013 leaked a top-secret order issued by the court requiring a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records — including those for domestic calls — to the NSA. As Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford Law School, explained,

The Administration and the intelligence community believe they can do whatever they want, regardless of the laws Congress passes, so long as they can convince one of the judges appointed to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to agree. This isn’t the rule of law. This is a coup d’etat.

Leahy’s bill allegedly will tighten up the House bill somewhat, creating a “special advocate” for liberty at the FISA courts, and limiting the NSA from vacuuming up data from an entire zip code or all the records from a communications service provider. It also declassifies some of those FISA court orders which have remained sealed and protected from public view. In its tentative support for Leahy’s new offering, Nadia Kayyall of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said,

The legislation may not completely end suspicionless surveillance … it allows the NSA to get a second set of records (a second “hop”) with an undefined “direct connection” to the first specific selection term.

Because the “direct connection” standard is vague, the government may seek to construe that phrase to mean less than reasonable suspicion.

Translation: The NSA, under Leahy’s new stronger, tighter, more restrictive language, may continue to do whatever it pleases in collecting and storing for later use all private communications from Americans.

Leahy’s bill will probably never see the light of day in this congress and will have to be reintroduced in the next session if anything is to be done to rein in the NSA’s collection of data. In the meantime, the NSA’s vacuuming of innocent Americans’ private communication continues unabated.

 

 

Two Unanimous Supreme Court Decisions Grant Immunity to Police, Secret Service

Police Tape

Following the announcements on Monday of the Supreme Court’s unanimous decisions in two “qualified immunity” cases, John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, expressed dismay:

Not a day goes by without reports of police officers overstepping the bounds of the Constitution and brutalizing, terrorizing and killing the citizenry. Indeed, the list of incidents in which unaccountable police abuse their power, betray their oath of office and leave taxpayers bruised, broken and/or killed grows longer and more tragic by the day to such an extent that Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist.

This lawlessness on the part of government officials, an unmistakable characteristic of a police state, is made possible in large part by the courts, which increasingly defer to law enforcement and prioritize security over civil liberties. In so doing, the government gives itself free rein to abuse the law, immune from reproach, and we are all the worse off for it.

A closer look at the two cases to which Whitehead refers, however, reveals

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Review of “No Place to Hide” by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald, the facilitator in bringing to light Edward Snowden’s staggering revelations over the NSA’s surveillance of Americans, titled his book from a comment made by Senator Frank Church back in 1975. As head of the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Church said:

The United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables [them] to monitor the messages that go through the air…

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left. Such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.

There would be no place to hide.

Greenwald opens his book as if it were a John Grisham thriller,

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Minnesotans Score Small Victory in Civil Asset Forfeiture War

A photograph of a lake with trees.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On August 1, citizens in Minnesota will rejoice that the police can no longer steal their property without being convicted – or even charged with – a crime. Until then Minnesota remains an upside-down world, and in many other states as well, where police can seize cash and property if they think that somehow the cash or the property was involved in a crime. Prior to August 1, citizens who have had their property seized will have to prove a negative:

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Supreme Court to hear Critical Fourth Amendment Appeals Tomorrow

Description unavailable

(Photo credit: Effnheimr)

David Leon Riley was driving through a residential area of San Diego in August of 2009 when he was stopped for having expired license tags on his car. A so-called routine search of his car turned up a couple of handguns whereupon he was arrested. The police took his smartphone and examined it down at the station house, discovering emails, text messages and videos implicating him in a gang-war drive-by shooting two weeks earlier. He was charged with and convicted of shooting at an occupied vehicle, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon along with other gang-related crimes and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Riley’s attorneys tried to have the evidence from his smartphone suppressed claiming that the police didn’t secure a search warrant first, without success. But

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The Left Attacks Pulitzer for its Public Service Award to Washington Post

snowden_nyc26_june_DSC_0046

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 16, 2014:

Instead of supporting the Pulitzer Prize Committee’s decision to give its coveted Public Service award to the Washington Post for publishing Edward Snowden’s revelations over NSA’s spying on innocent Americans, the Left (i.e., those supporting the surveillance state) has instead rather come unglued over the matter. Rep. Peter King, the noisy center-left RINO from New York, was first out of the box:

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Pulitzer Prize Award Over NSA Revelations Generates Vitriolic Criticism

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award 한국어: 퓰리처상 ...

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Washington Post’s Executive Editor Martin Baron anticipated that there would be strong criticism voiced when those opposed to Edward Snowden’s revelations learned of the Pulitzer Prize Committee’s decision to award its prestigious Public Service award to his paper. He may not have estimated the degree and extent and especially the vitriol of that criticism.

Said Baron:

Disclosing the massive expansion of the NSA’s surveillance network absolutely was a public service. In constructing a surveillance system of breathtaking scope and intrusiveness, our government also sharply eroded individual privacy. All of this was done in secret, without public debate…

[Without Edward Snowden’s disclosures] we never would have known how far this country had

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States Beginning to Demand SWAT Team Transparency

SRA Dave Orth (L) and SRA Clarence Tolliver (R...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Examples of no-knock raids performed by SWAT teams on innocents across the country have even raised the consciousness of the London-based Economist magazine which declared in its most recent issue that “America’s police have become too militarized.” It opened with the story of the raid on the home of Sally Prince in Ankeny, Iowa, by a SWAT team fully helmeted and

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Warrantless Searches Expanded Under Latest Supreme Court Ruling

This article was first published at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 28, 2014:

On the surface, the Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday in Fernandez v. California seems pretty innocuous. Only when the details are examined does it become clear that the Fourth Amendment has been

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.