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. — Amendment 4 to the U.S. Constitution
For years, the 4th Amendment has been whittled away. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and subsequent amendments to it — including the FISA Amendment Acts of 2008; the USA Patriot Act; National Security Agency spying; the National Defense Authorization Act; and new technology that allows government snoops to peer inside your homes, cars and beneath your clothes — have all chipped away at its very foundation.
But this week, the 4th Amendment, thought so important by the Founding Fathers who had experienced the tyranny of warrantless searches and seizures by British soldiers, suffered a double deathblow. The first came on Friday in Boston, as police ordered hundreds of innocent homeowners from their homes at gunpoint and conducted warrantless, illegal searches of their homes in a hunt for a teenage bombing suspect who had killed three people. And it came in Congress on Tuesday as the House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which allows the government to access online data.
Police actions in Boston set an unnerving precedent that harkens back to Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. CISPA essentially “legalizes” what the government has been doing from some time through FISA and the Patriot Act.
From the United States Holocaust Museum website:
The Nazi state in fact alleviated many of the frustrations the police experienced in the Weimar Republic. The Nazis shielded the police from public criticism by censoring the press… The Nazis centralized and fully funded the police to better combat criminal gangs and promote state security. The Nazi state increased staff and training, and modernized police equipment. The Nazis offered the police the broadest latitude in arrests, incarceration, and the treatment of prisoners. The police moved to take “preventive action,” that is, to make arrests without the evidence required for a conviction in court and indeed without court supervision at all… Crime did indeed go down and the operation of criminal gangs ended. Order was restored. But there was a price… The Nazis took control and transformed the traditional police forces of the Weimar Republic into an instrument of state repression and, eventually, of genocide.
Once a precedent is established de facto, it is only a matter of time until it is established de jure. It will take time. But the criminal elected class and their partners in crime believe they have all the time they need and many incidents of “terror” on the horizon to help create the false notion that one more liberty-stealing law will make us that much safer.