Although he’s been forgotten about for the most part, one of the most important men in the last couple of years, Edward Snowden, exposed a secret our government was keeping from us. The NSA has been spying on ordinary citizens. Logic would confirm that the security agent’s actions were a direct violation of our fourth amendment rights; Congress and the President didn’t see it that way. Under the guise of the Patriot Act, passed in 2001 by a government which was at a loss to address the attacks on 9/11, the fourth amendment has virtually been repealed. And it’s getting worse.
Law enforcement had petitioned Congress to pass legislation giving them the right to create a police state several times. Each time their requests were rejected; until the attacks on September 11, 2001. Our country changed for the worse in a matter of weeks. Fear replaced optimism and hope. Our country became divided more than ever in our history. The initial universal bond immediately after the attacks was replaced by distrust and an unfounded patriotism based on the need for revenge rather than national pride and focus on the reality of the disaster. America immediately hated all Muslims without understanding that all religions have radicals who rebel against their true faith.
Most importantly average Americans denied the fact that the terrorists succeeded in the removal of one of our Constitutional rights. If one falls, other will follow; and they have.
When the Supreme Court upheld Citizens United, and declared corporations are ‘people,’ they removed the right of an individual vote to be counted. Corporations are now allowed to purchase elections through unlimited campaign contributions. Because most American vote in relation to what they see on television, advertising controls the outcome of elections.
Our founding fathers considered the right to vote their most important amendment to the basic Constitution.
How many more amendments will be repealed in my lifetime? The only one guaranteed not to be repealed is the second, because the gun lobby, NRA, is heavily funded and owns most of Congress.
Why didn’t the average citizen understand that losing the fourth amendment was the beginning of the end? Once again, fear. They trusted our federal government and gave them unlimited trust and power.
Thanks to the Patriot Act police have unlimited power to search private property and seize assets in the name of self-protection and the fear of terrorism. Millions of dollars and cash and property have been seized by law enforcement when an individual is ‘suspected’ of criminal action. Even when no conviction occurs, the assets remain the property of the law enforcement agency; and there is little or no recourse under the law.
The most recent offense will now be heard before a federal court. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against police in Colorado. The lawsuit will test the lawful use of a radar device which can reveal the activities inside a private residence.
The movie ‘Predator’ used a heat seeking device to locate the enemy. This device used by an increasing number of law enforcement agencies is not dissimilar. The device labeled Range-R can detect movement in a precise location. It is so sensitive that it can detect breathing from 50 feet away.
The ACLU argues that this is a violation of the fourth amendment. This decision by the court will be indicative whether or not the fourth amendment has been entirely abolished by Congress.
Commentary by James Turnage