"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 be issued, 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." - 4th Amendment to the Constitution.
The text of the Fourth Amendment is rather plain, unlike some others whose meaning has caused great controversy over the years of our Union. Yet it is the Fourth Amendment, which arguably limits the power of the government vis a vis the governed more than any other, or at least at its most personal level, has been dealt some mighty blows, perhaps beyond repair.
Aside from the bevy of terrible caselaw since Prohibition and the War[s] on Drugs, I present to you the most recent, and outright disturbing news issuing from the intelligence community regarding the and and policies of our late administration.
In addition to manufacturing the threat of Iraq to gain the extra-Constitutional power to wage preemptive war, George W. Bush and friends manufactured threat assessments to gain the extra-Constitutional power to spy on American citizens without seeking a warrant. And further, it appears that the argument of efficacy, so recently used in defending torture, can't be used this time around because apparently these methods, such as warrantless wiretapping and email interception, did not help very much.
As the Saturday edition of the New York Times, upper right, above the fold, tells: a Congressionally mandated report from the inspectors general of the Department of Justice, the National Security Agency [NSA], the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense and the Office of National Security has been partially released, and it informs us that the secret extrajudicial wiretapping program began shortly after September 11, 2001; it was not handed over to the likes of John Yoo at the Office of Legal Counsel for weeks in order to ascertain its legality; and most damning - the high level officials had difficulty citing specific examples of the wiretapping program contributing to successes against terrorists in the form of either thwarted plots or actual arrests.
In fact, the secrecy surrounding the program was cited as a core reason for its ineffectiveness.
Even more damning, and yet no longer shocking, was the revelation that White House officials had provided paragraphs to analysts working on the terrorist threat assessments, which were then inserted into the threat assessments, in turn used by the White House as justification for its extra legal and extra Constitutional acts.
Of course, seeing that "change" has come to Washington, the article, by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, was based upon materials which were made available on Friday afternoon - the classic time when material the President wants most people to ignore is made public.
What this means is the the high crimes, the lies, of the Bush White House are even greater than heretofore known. And the cost to our freedom has yet to come due.
I have, in the recent weeks, seen a lot of material out there on the "con" side of the argument to universal health care, or even against the so-called government option. A lot of these arguments, hyperbolic or not, seem to center on fear of socialism, and at their worst, that such a thing would be Orwellian in its final form. I have even heard a resurfaced vinyl record of Ronald Reagan from the '60's say as much.
Yet a lot of the same people would fail to see the very Orwellian ramifications of the overall Bush Administration effort. I don't think these people actually have read, Orwell, to tell you the truth, because if they did we would have marched in the streets en masse a long time ago.
What the Bush Administration did was secure the ability to make war where it wanted, when it wanted; to be able to seize and imprison anyone sua sponte indefinitely by naming them an enemy combatant, the definition of which it maintained it was the sole arbiter; it could spy on anyone, anywhere, without the very reasonable constraints of the Fourth Amendment; and it successfully politicized the Department of Justice which likely conducted politically motivated prosecutions.
And I am not even bring up the issue of no bid contracts to the firms the Vice President was the former CEO of, or which prominent members of the Executive Branch were shareholders in, or such quaint matters like adherence to The Geneva Conventions, The Convention Against Torture, CIA black sites, and the use of private contractors in the place of either military or intelligence community personnel to perform "enhanced interrogations."
And the real kick in the pants is that these warrantless wiretaps and widespread interception of our emails - that's you and me - added nothing to our national security posture. In fact, in the words of Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon: "I believe this report shows that their obsession with secrecy and their refusal to accept oversight was actually harmful to U.S. national security, not to mention the privacy rights of law abiding Americans."
And just when you thought the lies and prevarications were over, the Sunday edition of the Times, top right corner, above the fold had this headline:
"CHENEY IS LINKED TO CONCEALMENT OF C.I.A. PROJECT."
It looks like the former Veep, who was unable to keep his mouth closed before Michael Jackson died, ordered the CIA to withhold the existence of an anti-terrorism program from Congress, and kept at it for 8 years. What this program did, or was about, is still undisclosed.
Now that's freedom!!
Isn't it refreshing that for once all the bad things we've heard about Speaker Nancy Pelosi are not true?
And keeping Congress in the dark for so long could very well have been a breach of law. But that's nothing new when speaking of the Bushies.
Speaking of illegalities and accountability: the cat might be out of the bag at Justice, which may be to the consternation of President Obama. For now President Obama has been stalling or backpedaling from investigating possible criminal acts of his predecessors, to at best stay out of the messy results, and at worst so he can have all that power the Bushes stole.
But Eric Holder is doing his best to be the top law enforcement agent in the nation. It was leaked Friday that he is considering assigning a special counsel to investigate the allegations the United States tortures terrorism suspects after September 1, 2001.
If they do, I just pray they don't stop at the Lindy Englands, and go all the way to the top. I want to see the real perpetrators frog marched for their crimes. The ones in suits, the ones who fabricated the legalities and the ones who gave the orders.