Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Mourning for 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.”
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
1791 - 2008

Today I am in mourning for the Fourth Amendment. Yesterday -- mark the date – July 9, 2008, the United States Senate, by a vote of 69-28, killed the Fourth Amendment. It had been part of the Constitution since 1791. It embodied one of our most precious civil rights – protection “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” But hey, it’s only the Constitution. Remember that precious document? If you’ve never read it, do so. Now. So you’ll know what a great foundation our nation once had. Not that we ever fulfilled its promise. But it was there. Unique in the history of governments. No more. Again, a spineless Congress played enabler to George Bush and Dick Cheney’s power addiction. By approving the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act, the Senate has once again supported the President’s assault on the Constitution and the civil rights of the American people.

Despite vigorous attempts by Senators Christopher Dodd, Russ Feingold, and others, the 69 enabling Senators caved in to Bush’s ongoing fear manipulation, which he and Cheney have used successfully since 9/11 to terrorize politicians into supporting their lawless policies. Yet, there is no greater terror in a democracy than eviscerating the very rights that have defined us and protected us as a freedom-loving people governed by the rule of law. With every assault on our laws and liberties, Bush/Cheney and their enablers make us less secure and less free because they are destroying our nation’s soul.

By approving the FISA Amendments Act, the Congressional enablers have granted immunity to both the President and his accomplice telecommunication companies. They have condoned brazen lawlessness.

By ordering illegal wiretapping of Americans, “the President committed a felony, not just once but at least thirty times,” said Jonathan Turley, Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University. Interviewed on Keith Olberman’s show, COUNTDOWN, last night, July 9, 2008, Professor Turley said, “That’s a very inconvenient fact right now in Washington.”

But who pays attention to facts in the Bush/Cheney administration? These two and their Congressional camp followers have never felt bound by facts or science or evidence. Why should they be stopped by mere facts? This is an administration that runs on fear, propaganda, lies, and fantasies. An inconvenient truth? Just censor it, ban it, distort it, ignore it.

“This is a sad moment, a black mark on the Congress. This is one of the greatest assaults on the Constitution in the history of our country,” Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin told interviewer Rachel Maddow on COUNTDOWN July 9, 2008.

The FISA Amendments Act gives the telecom industries uncontrolled license to eavesdrop, without obtaining warrants on even the most casual e-mail and phone calls of Americans.

Yesterday’s action by the Senate furthers the executive power grab by Bush/Cheney. Throughout this administration, the agenda has been to remove the checks and balances so carefully crafted in the Constitution. Continually enabled by a spineless Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – Bush and Cheney have systematically placed the executive branch beyond the law and established themselves as a lawless administration.

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