The NSA Controversy, the Founding Fathers, and the Fourth Amendment
Fears about the pervasive reach of our intelligence services soared to unprecedented levels with the recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s massive data collection program, which gobbles up citizens’ phone and internet records in hopes of finding terrorists. In spite of earlier direct denials by officials such as the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, we now know that intelligence agents have warrantless access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of Americans.
How much did the Founding Fathers worry about what they called “general warrants,” or broad-based searches not prompted by reasonable evidence of criminal activity? Admittedly, the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could never have fathomed the technological advances behind cell phones and the internet that have presented the opportunity for such massive technological snooping. Nor could they have envisioned terrorists’ capabilities of wreaking massive death and destruction with weapons ranging from airplanes to nuclear bombs.
Even so, the fear of the arbitrary use of searches, seizures, and arrests, was ever-present among America’s Founders. The dread of this species of government tyranny led ultimately to the adoption of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that “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.”
A number of early state constitutions and bills of rights also prohibited general warrants and unreasonable searches and seizures, reflecting fears of British investigations and arrests of Patriots during the lead-up to independence. Indeed, a month before the Declaration of Independence was issued in July 1776, the Virginia Declaration of Rights’ 10th section deplored any searches not prompted by compelling evidence, and called general warrants “grievous and oppressive.”
When the proposed Constitution was framed and sent out for ratification in 1787 (with no Bill of Rights attached yet), the absence of a provision against general warrants caused major concern. A frequently-reprinted editorial by “A Son of Liberty” warned that the unamended Constitution opened the door for citizens to have their property searched, “their private papers seized, and themselves dragged to prison. . .whenever the fear of their lordly masters shall suggest that they are plotting mischief against their arbitrary conduct.”
Patrick Henry, the most influential Antifederalist critic of the Constitution, similarly demanded an amendment that would ban “general warrants to search suspected places, or seize persons not named, without evidence of the commission of fact.” Accordingly, in 1788 Virginia became one of several states to propose a constitutional amendment making citizens secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. Henry and his allies hoped that this amendment (and others) would be added prior to ratification, but he had to settle for trusting James Madison to push the Bill of Rights through the First Congress, which Madison did.
Even if the digital revolution and “big data” were not on the Founders’ horizon, they still laid down basic principles that can help guide us on the NSA controversy. Yes, the Constitution empowered the national government to “provide for the common defense,” and surely one of the government’s key duties today is to discover and disrupt terrorist plots. However, the Founders also knew that any power given (or grabbed) by the government was easily susceptible to abuse.
Few among us would balk at the government energetically pursuing actual terrorist suspects. But the NSA revelations confirm that since 9/11, the American government has become a gargantuan surveillance state with dangerously few limitations. I am confident that NSA operatives are, by and large, really intent on stopping terrorists. But as we see in today’s Middle East, the term “terrorists” can easily morph into a term for one’s political enemies. How much would it take for NSA-style surveillance to turn its focus to journalists (see Fox News’s James Rosen), opposition politicians, advocacy groups, and ordinary citizens who fall out of favor with our all-seeing national government?
Thomas S. Kidd is professor of history at Baylor University and the author of Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots.
In light of the following article, I have decided to classify myself as an Internet Information Journalist, a person who shares current events, whether political, religious, or social. These articles that I write are intended to educate and/or encourage my readers about various topics of interest. My First Amendment right guarantees me this freedom of expression.
Whether bloggers count as journalists has mostly been a matter of esoterics for reporter types. But as Congress weighs a media shield law in response to the Associated Press/Justice Department subpoena scandal, the question is gaining an urgency that lawmakers are finding hard to ignore as they turn to writing the bill.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., took on the issue—and stumbled.
“Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves,” he said. “Is any blogger out there saying anything—do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times.”
The verbal slipup aside (of course bloggers are covered under the Bill of Rights!), Graham’s riffing on constitutional law exposes one of the age-old tensions between journalism as a product and journalism as an activity. What Graham really meant to ask was whether bloggers deserve the specific protections of the First Amendment that are granted to the press. And in fact, along with his colleague Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Graham has been an ardent proponent of a media shield law in recent weeks. But as the line between blogger and journalist has blurred, a far more relevant challenge is figuring out whether those protections apply to the behavior of finding and passing on (sometimes secret) information, or if they apply only to people with little plastic ID badges to prove their affiliation.
I am a writer, a reporter of currents event issues that are of concern to my friends and family. To me, a blogger is someone that posts nonsensical verbiage that benefits no one except the composer of the blog. To them, it serves as an outlet for emotional stress and/or irritation. The ‘it’s all about me’ bloggers have the protection of the First Amendment also!
Freedom of the Press in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This clause is generally understood as prohibiting the government from interfering with the printing and distribution of information or opinions, although freedom of the press, like freedom of speech, is subject to some restrictions, such as defamation law and copyright law.
In Lovell v. City of Griffin, Chief Justice Hughes defined the press as, “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.” This includes everything from newspapers to blogs.
The annual National Defense Authorization Acts signed by Obama are indeed a disgrace and the upcoming 2013 version promises to be no better as an amendment which would have limited Obama’s powers of unconstitutional incarceration was defeated in the House. It appears that the continued liberty of the American people will depend upon the courage of individual state legislators and governors.
Under the NDAA one may be arrested and indefinitely detained if the president merely alleges that you are a threat or “terrorist. You no longer have the right to legal representation and are not entitled to a phone call to an attorney or family member, You can be held for life without being convicted of a crime – an amendment that would have explicitly forbidden indefinite detention was rejected. You no longer have the right to a trial by jury of your peers. You can be executed without being convicted of a crime
One can be a suspected terrorist if he speaks out against the government; is active online to show “extreme views”; Love liberty or the ‘radical Constitution; exhibit ‘unusual actions” that catch the attention of others.
“Wake up America; we’re losing our rights and they’re doing it behind Americans’ back…freedoms are being slowly taken away…and they’re doing it with deception and disrespect to all that served. It’s a disgrace!
Read more at http://pandaunite.org/aboutus/#ote67g0EHeQE5pz3.99
We, the People were blessed to witness a single American, a true believer in the Constitution of the United States, take a stand against the tyrannical intentions of the President of this Great Nation. His flag-waving constitutional spirit was that of an infantry man leading the charge against a tyrannical enemy. His determination and resolve to persevere were indicative of a Senator who truly took his vow to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States seriously
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, that beautiful blue-grass state, held the torch of freedom for almost 13 hours. We the American people were stirred with patriotic fervor as we listen to every word that was spoken by Mr Paul and his fellow freedom bearers. Our hearts embraced the knowledge of our Constitution espoused by freedom loving men who actually represented their constituents. Our Patriotic spirit was exhilarated as a high flying eagle upon hearing that there were elected officials who were not afraid to address the Unconstitutional plan of the President to kill unarmed Americans on American soil with the use of Drones.
Senator Paul and his supporters exemplified professional and learned conduct as they shared with their colleagues and the American citizens; even the World. The information which they presented was informative, educational and within the framework of the concern of the filibuster. It was indeed a historic event in the history of our country.
They have lit the torch, they have encouraged and inspired We the People. We must not let this flame dwindle; we must fuel it with our own belief that with God’s help the evils of our nation can be squashed.
The citizens of many states are passing legislation to protect the right of individuals to bear arms. Other states are creating laws against the blatant murder of unborn children. We can make a difference. We are Americans! A people with a heritage of freedom fighting men who stood and prevailed against against the tentacles of tyranny. Our responsibility is to pray for our elected officials; to defend the Constitution was secured by our Founding Fathers, and to personally become involved in the activities of our government. Log on to http://awakeamerica.org. and http://CCAtoday.com. for starters. Pick up a copy of the US. Constitution and become knowledgeable of the contents , especially memorize the Bill of Rights.
Getting involved in your local government is perhaps the easiest way to ‘get your feet wet’. Attend city council meeting; participate in open meetings of government leaders in your community. Write letters to the editor relating to unconstitutional issues. Download the phone number of your elected officials and make it a practice to voice your constitutional-backed concerns. Do not faint in well doing. We are in a battle to defend our Constitution.
The following is an except from the introduction to the book “America’s Constitution” written by Evangelist Caleb Galloway
At the beginning of time , God knew that one day a country of the West would rise and become one of the greatest nations in the history of the World. He knew that this nation would rise to prominence because it decided to base itself solidly upon the Word of God. This Nation was the United States of American. The Constitution has remained the same and has effectively guided us for over 235 years. however, we are currently facing a time in which liberals, revisionist historians, judicial activists, sodomites, and others are trying to secretly and slowly take away our liberties. They are eagerly twisting the interpretation of our Constitution to suit their own agendas and fulfill their own demonic goals. Furthermore, liberals and judicial activists are trying to use the Constitution to purge all aspects of Christianity from the public square.
In chapter VII of this book Mr Galloway points out that this is a critical hour in which we find ourselves living. However. God makes the brightest lights to shine in the darkest of nights. In order to shine effectively and unhindered, however, we must know the truth. The truth for every human being is, first and foremost, the Bible. Secondly, the truth for every American is the Constitution that was based upon the dependency of Jehovah God. We must know what those truths are so that we can shine as beacons in a very dark time in our nations’ history.
Every blood-bought believer in the Lord Jesus Christ needs to become a student of His Word. This is our instruction book on life, our historical book on the existence of mankind. The Bible is our guide to obtaining wisdom and instruction in righteousness. In addition,written within the Holy Writ is listed warnings, for those who choose not to heed to the commandments that God has set forth. This divinely inspired Book was the resource that our Founding Fathers used in writing our most precious Constitution. Their desire was to have ‘One nation under God.’
Many American’s know that their Constitution was based upon the Bible, but that is as far as their knowledge extends. Oh, some may be able to repeat the preamble, be familiar with the “Bill of Rights”, and even specific amendments such as the 1st, 2nd, and 10th. However for the most part we do not know diddly squat about the contents of this great document. Don’t be too discouraged, neither do the members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. To be sure, there are some parts with which the President and his liberal cronies are quite familiar with, the part that they want to go away with. My fellow American’s we need to make the Constitution the second most important reading material in our possession! In my recent perusal of this document I have discovered some startling knowledge of which I had not before known. For instance, it is unconstitutional for the Supreme Court to pass laws governing our Land. This is the job of the House of Representatives. Just as the President and the members of the Senate, the Justices can be impeached for improper conduct. It is illuminating to say the least at some of the reasons that former Justices have been impeached.
The principles of Government set forth in Scripture and incorporated into the Constitution of the United States are indeed under vicious attack. Read for yourselves in Isaiah 33:22 how God established the three branches of government. Then turn to Exodus 18:21 to see how that God divided the governing agencies into the Federal. State and local governments. In verse 27, the principle for the Supreme Court is set forth.
Brethren, we cannot blame the condition of our Nation on the liberals, or on the prince of darkness. It is we, the American citizen who possess the saving knowledge of Jesus, the only begotten Son of a most Holy God. Conservative polls indicate that thousands upon thousands of so-called professing Believers did not even vote in the 2012 election. In fact, it is thought that if all of God’s people who were eligible to vote did so, the outcome of the election would have been much different. That sore spot being behind us, now what.
As American’s who fear the Lord we need to become informed in the matters of our local, State and Federal Governments. Log onto websites that have information regarding proposed Bills being introduced into the Senate and House of not only the United States but also of your state of residence, and your local community council. Become involved in pointing out any unconstitutionality of any proposed legislation. Call your elected officials and asked them to vote against issues that are contrary to the Word of God and the Constitution. Finally, intercede to the throne of heaven for God to have mercy on our Nation; to send revival; to save the souls of those who are determined to destroy the very constitution of which He inspired our Forefathers to write. We will stand before God and give an account of what we did to stand against the evil in our blessed United States of America! Will He say “Well done thou good and faithful servant? It is not too late – become a soldier for Christ and a defended of the American Constitution.
During special times throughout the year, Grandma would always get out the silver eating utensils only to discover that some needed the dark blackish dross removed. Once the silverware was polished and shiny it was then ready for use. Sadly, we often discover in our Christian Walk that when it is needful for us to use the tools that God has provided, they are often tarnished rendering them not very useful. We can relate to those times in our Christian walk when we become frustrated because we cannot remember a Scripture verse, or a Bible promise of which to respond in a given situation. Whether the need is to thwart off the temptation of the Devil or to encourage a brother in the Lord, it is imperative that we are learned in the Word of God. Daily personal devotions does not always give one enough in-depth knowledge of the Bible to be an effective witness. Although many of God’s people make an attempt to memorize certain key verses they often have difficulty finding where specific events and subjects are discussed within the pages of Holy Writ. It is amazing that our Founding Fathers knew where to find the inspired principles of government set forth in scripture. The Scripture principles are incorporated within our Constitution. Would the average Bible Believing child of God be able to find in the Word where God says that homosexual activity is an abomination; or in which book and chapter that one finds the Ten Commandments? Surely we would all know what verses were included in the Roman’s Road. Without debate most Christians will testify to the importance of being a student of God’s Word. We are commanded to put on the whole armor of God. Our armor must not be tarnished by the dross of ignorance; it must possess the glittering shine of understanding. This can only come about by diligently studying the Bible. Why is this so important? We will find the answer in Ephesians chapter 6.
God commands in verse 11 that we put on the whole armor of God………so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We are living in perilous times and we need to be able to withstand in this evil day. Verse 12 reminds us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world; against spiritual wickedness in high places. From now on until the Rapture we are in an all out war against those who are being used by Satan to foster his evil works. We have an urgent need to resist the enemy and hold a critical position in the battle. We are soldiers of the Cross of Jesus and we must assume the God-given responsibility to confront not only Satan and his demons but also World, National, State and local rulers who are involved in spiritual wickedness. It saddens me that there are Fundamental Bible preaching Pastors who will not preach politics from the pulpit. Moses and Aaron confronted Pharoah; John confronted Herod on the sin of adultery; our Founding Fathers not only confronted, but revolted against the British King in order to have religious freedom. And what about the Black Robe Regimen of the Revolutionary War; these God-fearing preachers took off their clerical robe and donned the Union Army Uniform to fight alongside the men of their congregation. May I dare say that we have a bunch of milquetoast men in the pulpits of America. There is a drastic need for God’s people to get their heads out of the sand and get involved in the political issues of this day and age. History records that in the early days of our founding that a man needed to be a bona-fide, practicing, possessing Christian in order to run for office of any kind. Today, we have the fool-hearty idea that goodly men do not undertake a career in politics AND that is why our Nation is in such a mess. In my particular community, there are about six city council seats up for election this spring. Out of the three or four Bible preaching churches in this city, only one man took up the mantle to seek to represent his district. So sad!
As the tentacles of the beastly Agenda 21 are interweaving into the very rural areas of our World, Nation and State, sucking away at our liberties, our unalienable rights, and our very lives, it becomes more imperative that God’ s people have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, they must take on the shield of faith so that they will be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked. With the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit we need to give ourselves to praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Persecution is coming, my brethren, no matter where you are in this world. In order to fight our enemy we must get to know him and then do our best to prevent his socialistic doctrine into our lives.
As we are becoming knowledgeable of scripture, there is also a need to learn what is in our Constitution. Did you know that according to the Constitution it is illegal for the United States Supreme Court to make laws. This fact in itself would strike down Roe v Wade. In addition, we are instructed within the Constitution to impeach those members of the Supreme Court who are guilty of inappropriate behavior, like making laws! How about Agenda 21 and the sustainable development that is being shoved down our throats. This is not a conspiracy, it is an action plan by the United Nations in pursuing the one World Government. With their Declaration of Human rights set to replace the freedoms of our Bill of Rights, our property, our possessions and even our lives will be at their disposal. We have the right to impeach those in authority who are replacing our God inspired Constitution with this Satanic, socialistic agenda. Our God has commanded us to occupy until He comes. That means stand against evildoers.
As we become informed as to what is going on in the world, we then need to engage in any honorable way to stem the tide of wickedness in high places, and then give ourselves to interceding at the Throne of Grace for our Brethren, our Country, and our Families. Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus.