One’s liberty is the most precious thing next to life itself, and Americans must stop standing in silence, while presidents, past and present, and Congressmen erode and trample our Fourth Amendment Right, no matter their intentions, through Orwellian legislation that directly contravenes it. Everyone must vociferously and fiercely oppose and counter these so-called “leaders” and their illegal violations of the Constitution, by replacing all those, who recently voted for the FISA Reauthorization Act of 2017, because no one, even in the name of national security, has any right or authority to take our liberty.
The FISA Reauthorization Act passed in the House, 256 to 164, on January 11th, and it passed by only one vote in the Senate, on January 18th; and, through the House vote on Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the House rejected the USA Rights Act, 233 to 183, and its requirement that officials must obtain warrants before searching and reading Americans’ emails, after they are acquired in any surveillance operation.
Bulk surveillance on all Americans without a warrant, heretofore known to be unConstitutional, is now deemed acceptable by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the U.S. Congress, but incredulously, they do make one exception. A warrant is required for the emails of the subject in an open criminal investigation, where no national security concerns exist, thus providing criminals more rights than normal, law-abiding everyday U.S. citizens.
One must also be shocked by House Joint Resolution 76, which was passed by this Congress and signed by President Trump on August 22nd 2017. It allows the searches of homes and businesses without any warrant, in areas adjacent to the Washington [D.C.] Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and extending miles outward in all directions, and far into nearby regions of Maryland and Virginia.
All of the aforementioned goes against the Fourth Amendment, which states that Americans’ rights “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.”
In a ninety-nine page opinion for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Judge Rosemary Collier had many harsh terms for the Obama administration. She noted that the Obama administration had ignored Section 702 procedures designed to ensure Americans’ civil rights were safeguarded, as any administration performs the necessary work to provide for our national security. Collyer charged that Obama’s administration had violated Section 702’s requirements and created a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”
The serious nature of these developments is further highlighted by new evidence exposed by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who has deep insight through a “top secret” clearance. He charged on January 18th, that seen through the prism of overt pro-Hillary bias and anti-Trump prejudice exhibited by the CIA, FBI and other agencies and their use of National Security Agency secret information for political purposes, they were all untrustworthy with our information and the nation’s intelligence secrets. The many abuses under the Obama administration exposes the danger of giving too much power to our intelligence agencies, who seem far too willing to use stored metadata for harassment, blackmail and to further their own political agendas.
FBI Director Christopher Wray viewed Nunes’s classified House Intelligence Memo on Sunday January 21st. The next day Deputy Director Andrew McCabe announced his “retirement”. McCabe was named in the memo, as the person who used the unverified Steele Dossier to illegally obtain a FISA warrant against President Trump.
The House Intelligence Committee Memo released on February 2nd shows that a presidential campaign was spied on. An unverified dossier, that nobody will stand by under oath was used in an illegal manner to obtain a FISA warrant. And yet, with this knowledge in hand seven days before the House vote, Representative Nunes and twenty-one other House committee members kept over five-hundred of their colleagues in the dark, about domestic spying abuses, while the debate on that very issue was ongoing, and they voted to expand the power of those who abused it.
Surely the expansion of FISA would never have passed the Senate, if the damning information contained in the House Intelligence Committee Memo had been released seven days earlier. If just one conscientious senator had known of the NSA and FBI abuses concealed by the House Intelligence Committee, and changed his vote, the expansion would have failed.
Any American paying attention is now asking, “What is going on with our government?” They know that the Fourth Amendment has been abrogated, gutted, by the very representatives and senators who swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend our U.S. Constitution.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) had vowed to fight reauthorization of Section 702 without reforms. Just prior to the vote on the USA Rights Act, he stated: “Our Founders gave us the Fourth Amendment to prevent a tyrannical government from invading our privacy, and we are fools to relinquish that hard-won right because of fear. The Founders did not include the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights as a suggestion.”
Significantly, on January 11th, President Trump noted that Section 702 was used to “badly surveil and abuse the Trump campaign”, as he expressed skepticism regarding FISA. At the very least, this should have withheld his signature, until FISA was reformed. He would have served America better, if he had followed his initial gut instinct.
After signing the bill, President Trump falsely told America that it only targeted foreigners. Is this another case of Trump being easily manipulated by his advisors, or is it one more instance of his own lack of knowledge and preparation on an issue?
The FISA Reauthorization Act is now in place until 2024. Each day from this point on, all of us must demand it be rescinded, and before we allow its renewal, it must be reformed.
Liberty is the essence of our natural state, so when Congress acts to limit our liberty in favor of greater security, obtained through a FISA operation with highly questionable results in the war on terrorism, they are philosophically, historically and constitutionally wrong. Our liberty is of infinitely greater worth to us, than the security we have instructed Congress to ensure.
Congress’s recent actions are moves to permanently destroy our right to privacy, exalting safety over liberty and providing neither. And in the process, limited government is being undone, right before our eyes.
As Ludwig von Mises reminds us, government is essentially the negation of freedom. If anyone truly believes that monitoring everyone in America is the least restrictive way to keep us safe, let that person surrender his own privacy. The rest of us will retain ours and provide for our own safety.
I did not consent to the abrogation of my Fourth Amendment Right, and I don’t imagine most of America did either. Our rights are inalienable and cannot be separated from us, not by Congress, not by anyone.
February 3, 2018
~ The Author ~
Justin O. Smith has lived in Tennessee off and on most of his adult life, and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1980, with a B.S. and a double major in International Relations and Cultural Geography – minors in Military Science and English, for what its worth. His real education started from that point on. Smith worked 8 years for the LaVergne Fire Dept – two years as their clean-up boy – and became a working fireman at age 16, working his way through college and subsequently joining the U.S. Army. Since then he primarily have contracted construction and traveled – spending quite a bit of time up and down the Columbia River Gorge, in the Puget Sound on Whidby Island and down around Ft. Lauderdale and South Beach. Justin currently writes a weekly column for The Rutherford Reader in Murfreesboro, TN, which he calls home, in addition to being a frequent contributor to the Federal Observer – and spend as much time as possible with his two beautiful and intelligent daughters and five grandchildren. Justin Love God, Family and Our Magestic and Wonderful America, and am a Son of Liberty.