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

Senator Rand Paul’s Bill to Protect Citizens From Drone Surveillance

U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field

U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field (Photo credit: AN HONORABLE GERMAN)

When Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced his bill in June, he was responding to growing concerns over privacy by American citizens. The purpose of his bill is elegantly simple: “To protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones.” Paul’s bill is very specific:

[A] person or entity acting under the authority [of], or funded in whole or in part by, the Government of the United States shall not use a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Paul explained that “Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics.”

One of those claiming to have had his rights infringed upon is Rodney Brossart of Lakota, North Dakota, who is “the first American citizen to be arrested with the help of a Predator surveillance drone,” according to USNews. Brossart’s troubles began in 2010 when six cows

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Privacy-Eliminating CISPA Awaits Fate in the Senate

Stop CISPA

Despite an increasingly noisy chorus of resistance to many of its provisions, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House, 248-168, on April 26. Passage in the House was assured with more than 70 percent of those supported by the Tea Party voting for it. It moved to an uncertain future in the Senate.

That opposition noted that the bill’s many flaws included precious little “protection” for rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, especially those 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.

In the zeal to “protect” the country against “cybersecurity threats,” Internet providers and other communications companies would be allowed to share their customers’ private information with agencies of the federal government, and vice versa. As Techdirt’s Leigh Breadon explained,

[The] government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime.”

Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said virtually the same thing in his opposition to CISPA:

CISPA permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications without judicial oversight [as required by the Fourth Amendment] provided that they do so of course in the name of cybersecurity.

The bill is another heavy-handed effort to expand government’s surveillance of private citizens’ communications without restraint. By using words such as “may” instead of “must” and “cybersecurity” without defining the term, the bill creates just the sort of opening through the Fourth Amendment that has, until now, largely

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Policing for Profit in Tennessee

Asset ForfeitureWhen George Reby was pulled over for speeding in Putnam County, Tennessee, little did he know it was going to cost him $22,000 despite never being charged with a crime.

An insurance investigator from New Jersey, Reby was driving down Interstate 40 on his way to a convention. He had $22,000 in cash with him, rolled up in 22 $1000 packages in a bag, which he intended to use to purchase a car that he had found on eBay. From the video provided by NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, Reby was stopped for speeding and the following conversation between Reby and Office Larry Bates took place:

Bates: Are you carrying any cash?

Reby: Around $20,000.

Bates: Do you mind if I search your vehicle?

Reby: No, I don’t mind.

From there it all went downhill. Bates seized the money under the suspicion that Reby might be planning to use the money to purchase illegal drugs. When interviewed by NewsChannel 5, Bates was asked why he was suspicious: 

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The DoJ Wants to Track Your Smartphone Without a Warrant

Artist's impression of a GPS-IIRM satellite in...

In its relentless never-ending quest for more power to track and follow American citizens through their smartphones, the Department of Justice (DoJ) requested last week that Congress give them easier access to location data stored by cellphone service providers.

Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s criminal division, argued that requiring a search warrant to gain such access would “cripple” his department’s efforts to investigate crime and criminals. Said Weinstein,

There is really no fairness and no justice when the law applies differently to different people depending on which courthouse you’re sitting in.

For that reason alone, we think Congress should clarify the legal standard.

In other words, because the laws protecting privacy vary somewhat depending upon where an individual citizen lives, Congress should come along and override them all and provide a federal, looser standard, all in the name of security.

The increasing sophistication of cellphone and communications technology in general allows service providers to track virtually every movement of an individual, day or night, at home or work, in a bar or on a golf course. Malte Spitz, a German politician and privacy advocate, obtained his own

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CISPA Assumes Too Much Trust in Government

iPad tablet

In a surprise move the White House issued a statement on Wednesday threatening to veto CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Actbecause of privacy concerns. Parts of the statement sounded as if they had been drafted by Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul:

The sharing of information [between private agencies and the federal government] must be conducted in a manner that preserves American’s privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace. Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive…

[CISPA]…repeal[s] important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards…

The bill also lacks sufficient limitation on the sharing of personally identifiable information…and does not contain adequate oversight or accountability measures…to ensure that the data is used only for appropriate purposes…

The bill effectively treats domestic cybersecurity as an intelligence activity and thus, significantly departs from longstanding efforts to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres.

This is the first time in recent memory that the White House has expressed any such concerns. When signing into law the controversial National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] the White House blithely ignored its trampling of those same civil liberties through its “indefinite detention” provisions. Nor did the White House raise any similar concerns when it issued its executive order commandeering all resources from American citizens in the event of an emergency to be declared by the president.

So the following from the White House’s statement on CISPA makes perfect sense: the White House favors government regulation of the internet and invasion of privacy without following the Fourth Amendment. It just doesn’t want

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CISPA is Big Brother’s Friend

CISPA - The solution is the problem

This is “cybersecurity week,” according to Brock Meeks at Wired.com when CISPA (the Orwellian-named Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is scheduled to move to the House floor for a vote. Offered originally before SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and its sister PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) were blown up in January, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) have offered some amendments to the bill (H.R. 3523) to soften some of its critics and to avoid the same result.

The primary problem, according to Meeks, is that it tries to kill a flea with a baseball bat: Any alleged security the bill offers against potential hackers “comes at the expense of unfettered government access to our personal information, which is then likely to be sucked into the secretive black hole of the spying complex known as the National Security Agency.”

Despite some window dressing by Mssrs. Rogers and Ruppersberger, the bill still has major problems. First it has “an overly broad, almost unlimited definition of the information [that] can be shared [by private Internet companies] with government agencies.” It overrides existing federal or state privacy laws with its language that says information between private and public agencies is shared “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

In addition, the bill would create a “backdoor wiretap program” because the information being shared isn’t limited specifically to issues of cybersecurity but could be used for any other purpose as well. The language is unclear about what would trigger a CISPA investigation: “efforts to degrade, disrupt or destroy” a network. Would that apply to someone innocently downloading a

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Courts and Dept of Justice Agree: Videotaping Police is OK

March 3, 1991: Rodney King being beaten by LAP...

Ken Paulsen, president and CEO of the First Amendment Centerwrote in USA Today that “just as police officers use technology to watch citizens, including patrol car cameras, traffic light cameras and radar to track speeding, the public [also] has a right to monitor the work of officers on the public payroll.”

Perhaps the most memorable and life-altering event in the history of citizens recording police behavior was that moment on the evening of March 3, 1991, when George Halliday, using his Sony video recorder, taped the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. By the time the dust had settled, two of the four officers charged in the beating were found guilty, 53 people were dead, 2,383 people were injured, more than 7,000 fires had been set, 3,100 business establishments had been damaged or destroyed, $1 billion in losses had been sustained, and police behavior was permanently altered.

As Joel Rubin noted in his article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King incident in the Los Angeles Times

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New York’s Long-Distance Body Scanners Violate 4th Amendment

New York City, Manhattan, Murray Hill : NYPD N...

New York Police Commissioner Joe Kelly is considering the latest in technology—Terahertz Imaging Detection (TID)—to be mounted on police cars and allowing them to roam the streets of New York looking for people carrying guns. The NYPD, sometimes referred to as the world’s “seventh largest army” with 35,000 uniformed officers, already does a brisk business frisking potential suspects, with little pushback. In the first quarter of last year, 161,000 New Yorkers were stopped and interrogated, with more than nine out of 10 of them found to be innocent. And there are cameras already in place everywhere: in Manhattan alone there are more than 2,000 surveillance cameras watching for alleged miscreants.

But the new technology will avoid the necessity of doing public pat-downs because it would allow officers to note, from their cruisers, who is carrying heat. The technology, effective up to 16 feet (with improvements in longer scans already being tested), measures body heat and indicates any “blockages” of that heat by metal obstructions, assumed in most cases to be handguns carried on the person. What it can do is “allow the NYPD to conduct illegal searches by means of scanning anyone walking the streets of New York,” according to the report at RT.com. “Any object on your person could be privy to the eyes of the detector, and any suspicious screens can prompt police officers to search someone on suspicion of having a gun, or anything else, under their clothes.”

Commissioner Kelly assured investigators that the scanners would be used only in what he calls “reasonably suspicious circumstances.” That’s a long way from the language in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says:

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Bill of Rights Day: Celebration or Mourning?

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

The Cato Institute’s newspaper ad reminding citizens that December 15th was Bill of Rights Day summarized the desperate shape those first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States is in, thanks to an overweening government and an uninformed citizenry. Reviewing each of the amendments, Cato pointed  to specific infringements of each of them, concluding that “It’s a disturbing picture, to be sure, but not one the Framers of the Constitution would have found altogether surprising. They would sometimes refer to written constitutions as mere “parchment barriers” [to totalitarian government].

The erection of the original “parchment barrier,” the Bill of Rights, was initially considered unnecessary because the language of the Constitution explicitly enumerated limited powers to the newly created government and why should further protections against powers not even granted be needed? As “Brutus,” one of the authors of the Anti-Federalist Papers, wrote: 

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Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is Overkill

Listen

The first hearing on Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-Texas) bill HR 3261, known as the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), was held Wednesday in Washington by the House Judiciary Committee, which Smith chairs.

The bill was offered back in October by Smith along with 12 cosponsors, including Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) who stated:

Intellectual property is one of America’s chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, yet American inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs have been forced to stand by and watch as their works are stolen by foreign infringers beyond the reach of current U.S. laws. This legislation will update the laws to ensure that the economic incentives our Framers enshrined in the Constitution over 220 years ago—to encourage new writings, research, products and services—remain effective in the 21st century’s global marketplace, which will create more American jobs. The bill will also protect consumers from dangerous counterfeit products, such as fake drugs, automobile parts and infant formula.

The bill represents a modification of the Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act, which was reported out of committee last spring but hasn’t yet reached the floor of the Senate for debate.

Supporters and opposition are rapidly lining up, pitting Hollywood’s producers against the Internet content providers, or, as Politico.com called it, the

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Pentagon: Cyberattack an Act of War

Matrix Code

Image by My Melting Brain via Flickr

Following up on the publication of the “International Strategy for Cyberspace” by the Obama administration last month, the Pentagon clarified and expanded upon its intention to consider a computer attack as equivalent to a more traditional act of war.

The White House’s strategy made clear that:

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Tea Party Cements Patriot Act Into Place

"A Patriot Act"

Image by basykes via Flickr

In light of recent extensions of the Patriot Act, it can be concluded that many Tea Partiers are reneging on parts of the Tea Party agenda. Of the 41 Tea Party-backed candidates, 31 voted to extend the Patriot Act, eight voted against it, and one did not vote. As John Tyner stated at Lewrockwell.com: “Despite the eight nea votes, Tea Party-backed candidates overwhelmingly backed an extension of the Patriot Act.”

It took Congress scarcely six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to write, deliberate, and then overwhelmingly pass the Orwellian-named USA PATRIOT Act on October 26, 2001, and the Bill of Rights hasn’t been the same since. In its chilling summary of the law, Wikipedia noted

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Supreme Court: Corporations Are Persons without Personal Privacy

The current United States Supreme Court, the h...

Image via Wikipedia

When the Supreme Court was given the opportunity to extend the realm of privacy for corporations, it failed, 8-0. The case of FCC v. AT&T, which began nearly seven years ago, concerned a malfeasance by AT&T and schools in New London, Connecticut, and was resolved, briefly, by the payment of a fine to the FCC.

In 2005, however, CompTel, a trade association made up of some of AT&T’s competitors, petitioned the FCC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to release the information they had gathered in the course of the investigation. The obvious purpose was to

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Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and the 4th Amendment

Stylized arrest.

Image via Wikipedia

When the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on a Fourth Amendment case decided by the Kentucky Supreme Court (Kentucky v. King), alarm bells went off. Under the Fourth Amendment, as readers are no doubt aware, “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.”

But what if police pick the wrong house, pound on the door loudly, announce that “This is the police!” and then, smelling pot, break down the door without a warrant and arrest the homeowner for violating local drug laws?

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Removing “Technical” Obstacles to Surveillance

Navstar-2F satellite of the Global Positioning...

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Buried in an otherwise innocuous-appearing article in the New York Times about wiretapping was this chilling sentence: “The issue [of surveillance of individuals by law enforcement agencies] has added importance because [these technologies] developed by the United States to hunt for terrorists and drug traffickers can also be used by repressive regimes to hunt for political dissidents” [emphasis added].

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TSA Catches More Flak

Seal of the United States Department of Homela...

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The new DVD Please Remove Your Shoes, to be released on July 1, was reviewed by Scott Mayerowitz at ABC News, who asked rhetorically, “Do You Really Believe You Are Safe at the Airport?” and then answered “No.”

Fred Gevalt paid for this documentary out of his own pocket because “our real security at the airport…appears to be worse than ever. Clearly something has to be fixed. We have given TSA sufficient time since their creation to establish their merit and they haven’t. It’s time to call for a rethink of the whole security system, and now is as good a time as any. We certainly shouldn’t allow this farce to continue.”

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TSA and the Fourth Amendment: Take another Look

Transportation Security Administration officer...

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When Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that Major General Robert Harding was President Obama’s latest nominee for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), she said, “Mr. Harding has the experience and perspective [emphasis added] to make a real difference in carrying out the mission of the agency. If there was ever a nominee that warranted expedited…consideration in the Senate, this is it.”

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Cell Phones, Big Brother and the 4th Amendment

Cell Phone

Image by JonJon2k8 via Flickr

The Obama Justice Department is appealing a lower court decision that requires it to provide “probable cause” before it can track cellphone users. The DOJ wants instead to operate under a lower standard for tracking cellphone users, based on a reasonable belief that such information is “relevant to a…criminal investigation.”

Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan wrote: “Where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, intrusion on that right by the Government for investigatory purposes requires that the Government obtain a warrant by demonstrating to the Court that it has probable cause, i.e., that it make a showing of a fair probability of evidence of criminal activity.”

Police have been tapping into the locations of cellphones thousands of times a year.

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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.
Copyright © 2018 Bob Adelmann