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Fourth Amendment Is Going, Going…

Memo Pad National News

Fourth Amendment Is Going, Going…


Perhaps you’ve heard of the Fourth Amendment.

That’s the one that guarantees freedom from unfettered government snooping, the one that says government needs probable cause and a warrant before it can search or seize your things.

That guarantee would seem to be ironclad, but we’ve been learning lately that it’s not. Indeed, maybe we’ve reached the point where the Fourth ought to be marked with an asterisk and followed by disclaimers in the manner of the announcer who spends 30 seconds extolling the miracle drug and the next 30 speed-reading its dire side effects:

To wit: “Fourth Amendment not available to black and Hispanic men walking in New York, who may be stopped and frisked for no discernible reason. Fourth Amendment does not cover black or Hispanic men driving anywhere as they may be stopped on any pretext of traffic violation and searched for drugs. Fourth Amendment does not protect library patrons as the PATRIOT Act allows the FBI to search your library records without your knowledge. Fourth Amendment does not apply to anyone using a telephone, the Internet or email as these communications may be searched by the NSA at any time.”

To those disclaimers, we now add a new one: “Fourth Amendment not effective at the U.S. border.”

Just before New Year’s, you see, federal Judge Edward Korman tossed out a suit stemming from something that happened to Pascal Abidor, a graduate student who holds dual French and U.S. citizenship. He was taken off an Amtrak train crossing into New York from Canada in May 2010, cuffed and detained for hours by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. They seized his laptop and kept it for 11 days.

It seems the computer contained photos of rallies by Hamas, the radical Islamist group, and his passport indicated travel in the Middle East. Abidor explained that he’s a student of Islamic studies at McGill University and that he’s researching his doctoral thesis. According to at least one news report, he’s not even Muslim.

None of this moved the border agents — or the judge. He rejected the suit brought by the ACLU, among others, on behalf of Abidor and the National Press Photographers Association, among others, on grounds the plaintiffs had no standing to bring suit because, he says, the searches are so rare there is little risk a traveler will be subjected to one.

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a nationally syndicated commentator, journalist, and novelist. Pitts' column for the Miami Herald deals with the intersection between race, politics, and culture, and has won him multiple awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

The highly regarded novel, Freeman (2009), is his most recent book.

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  1. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh January 15, 2014

    Leonard, it isn’t just at the borders. Anytime you go to board a plane or even a train, you are subject to unwarranted search and potential seizure of your goods and possessions. OBL claimed the attacks he and KSM organized on 9/11 would disrupt the way we do things and help bring America down. I am sad to say he was correct. We not live in an environment where I half expect to have someone in a uniform way fancier than what I wore as a Navy Enlisted person say, in a Conrad Veidt accent, “Identity papers, plees!” I also attribute the fact that I went through secondary screening on every flight I boarded after 9/11 to my Mediterranean appearance. One time when I was asked to show ID, I presented my DD-214 to the agent. He asked what it was. I said it was proof that I had served in the United States Navy and had an Honorable Discharge. Then I asked where his bona fides were for his checking me out. His supervisor, who witnessed the whole thing, told him to let me proceed.
    Add this to the FISA court, appointed in camera by the Chief Justice, having only refused a handful of warrant requests in more than 30 years, and often granting them as fait accompli for actions already taken, and we truly have no more right to personal privacy.

    1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

      “The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.”
      v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).

  2. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

    The 4th 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 4th Amendment was shredded by the passage of the Patriot Act. What followed is what we are getting. The government we deserve. NSA abuses to name the most outrageous….

    See this video:


    The assault on the personal liberty of American people continues.

    Check out Jim Kirwin’s slant on this way back in 2010:


    And here:


    How far do your 4th Amendment righst go today….you dont have any…

    read this:

    http://www.annenbergclassroom.org/speakouts.aspx?name=how-far-do-your-fourth-amendment-rights-go&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1There have been so many “exceptions” allowed since the Patriot Act, the only way to get back from this Orweillian nightmare is to repeal the Patriot Act.

    1. idamag January 15, 2014

      These invasive acts are passed because, we the people, get so scared we are in a panic and will accept anything. When 9-11 happened the nation became hysterical. They were buying visqueen and duct tape and actually cleaned out some of the stores of those items. Gun sales sky rocketed – like an assault rifle would have stopped the terrorist attacks. Daily the fear was kept going by Washington. Remember the code colors? And we fell for it. We were not the land of the free and the home of the brave. We were the home of the scared witless. How long do think it will be, with the continued scare tactics, we will lose our government? They are trying to scare us by telling us about voter fraud so they can take away our voting rights and those powers have allies in the Supreme Court. Wake up American. Being scared didn’t make you any safer.

      1. Duckbudder January 15, 2014

        Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

        Ben Franklin

        1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

          That is exactly the point…see my post at top about repealing the patriot act…

        2. Lovefacts January 17, 2014

          I love that saying, and Franklin was 100% right.

      2. leadvillexp February 1, 2014

        I have to agree with you 100%. Also remember Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. If we are rabbits we will stay in our hole and not challange the powers that be. We might get hurt.

  3. charleo1 January 15, 2014

    I should prelude my comment by saying, I think Leonard Pitts is a great writer. And I have read, and enjoyed his columns in my hometown paper, the Miami Herald, for years. He composed one of his most brilliant masterpieces after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The late Paul Harvey, one of America’s greatest commentators read Leonard’s editorial in that tremendous baritone of his. And, I was proud in the way townsfolk are when one of their own is recognized in a special way. Even though Leonard was already syndicated in many papers across the Country. One line that I’ve never forgotten, because it captured the mood of the Country so well. He said to the terrorists, “I don’t know what your cause is. But, you’ve damned it by your actions.” But, in this particular op-ed, he mixes together two separate cases of Fourth Amendment abuses that are very different. One infringement, the one that deals with the stop, and frisk policy, enacted in New York, or the Arizona Law, who’s proponents claim it doesn’t codify profiling, but does, are easier fixes. Just stop doing it. The other, dealing with international terrorism, is a much harder balance to strike. On one
    hand, our Rights to be protected from unwarranted search and seizure.
    On the other, the government’s obligation to protect the lives of it’s citizens aganist elements determined to kill as many of us as possible, in the most
    high profile way that is possible. Think about the Super Bowl, or the Winter
    Olympics. Why? Because, who doubts the terrorists are? The question we
    must answer, the second half of Leonard Pitts column I hope he writes.
    Is, how do we strike that balance? How much trust do we give our government to intrude into our foundational Rights to privacy, without
    good probable cause, when measured aganist the risk? And what is that
    risk? How do we assess that risk? So we can find consensus on what constitutes, unreasonable? I’m asking, because I don’t know. Should we,
    as some feel, just repeal the Patriot Act, disband the FISA Court, stop
    electronic data mining, where no probable cause can ever be established?
    And go back to the days before long lines at airports? Where we’re x-rayed, probed, metal tested, have to take off our shoes, and be subjected to a more thorough going over, for no other reason than we may resemble in the mind of a TSA Officer, what a terrorist might look like? Absolutely we do. Then, as we kiss our spouse good bye, or send our kids off to college, and put them on a jetliner, we’re going to need to feel alright about it. Or, at least enough of us will have to, to take the politics out of a terrorist attack, when, or if one happens. Don’t believe that? Name one attack where the side not in charge when it happened, didn’t claim with the clarity of hindsight, that the President, or his security team, should have known. From Bush on 9/11,
    to Obama, on Benghazi, every effort is made to stack the corpuses of the
    victims on the White House lawn, point an accusatory finger, and say, Mr.
    President, the American people trusted you to keep them safe, and you’ve
    failed. And until we change that aspect about how we react to a successful
    act of terrorism, we can very much expect to have our Civil Rights trampled

    1. dpaano January 15, 2014

      You’ve definitely got a point there…..have to agree with you somewhat.

    2. sigrid28 January 15, 2014

      Survivors of the Holocaust truly understand–in their very bones as well as their psyches–the terror of both policies Leonard Pitts identifies in this piece: stop and frisk and interrogation at a national border. A midwesterner from a Norwegian-American family, married for twenty years to a survivor, I tried to sympathize but never truly understood the panic that set in whenever we traveled abroad (often for my husband’s job) and had to get our passports “in order.” I observed without ever comprehending the combination of compliance and secrecy that came into play inside government offices where you are interrogated in order to obtain a French driver’s license, for example. At the beginning of each trip abroad, upon arriving at our destination–even though he might have lived in a country for seven years of his childhood–this otherwise highly skilled academic, an expert in six European languages, would collapse completely, only to recover hours later on a diet of sparkling water and solitude. For every border crossing, he endured an entire day of unspeakable anxiety, like many other survivors I am sure. On this basis, I find I am growing uneasy with the intrusiveness of totalitarian measures put in place to defeat the goals of what would certainly be a totalitarian regime: life in a Muslim country.

      I am equally mystified by Malala’s account of life under the joint totalitarian Muslim regimes that make it impossible for her to live in Pakistan, both its government forces and the Taliban insurgency:

      “Next Fazlullah began holding a ‘shura,’ a kind of local court. . . . People began going to Fazlullah and his men to resolve grievances about anything from business matters to personal feuds. . . . The punshiments decreed by Fazlullah’s shura included public whippings. . . . His men stopped health workers giving polio drops, saying vaccinations were an American plot to make Muslim women infertile so the people of Swat would die out. . . . Fazlullah’s men patrolled the streets looking for offenders against his decrees just like the Taliban morality police we had heard about in Afghanistan. They set up volunteer traffic police called Falcon Commandos, who drove through the streets with machine guns mounted on top of their pick-up trucks. (119-20) . . . The militants would enter villages with megaphones and the police would flee. . . . Policemen were so scared of being killed that they took out ads in the newspapers to announce they had left the force. All this happened and nobody did a thing. It was as though everyone were in a trance. . . . (125).” From “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013).

      I wish we could end stop and frisk and modify the intrusiveness of the NSA’s surveillance without giving up the protections that hold the violence of Malalal’s world at bay.

    3. mah101 January 15, 2014

      Government officials are sworn to uphold the constitution of the United States. They are not sworn to prevent any American citizen from being harmed by someone. Instead they are sworn to protect the Nation, and the Nation is defined in that Constitution.

      When they violate the promises, obligations and intent of the Constitution, they violate the Nation. They become the ones harming the country, not the terrorists. I’m willing to give up a little protection to maintain the rights we have in this country (or should I say, had…)

      1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

        Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

        Ben Franklin

      2. charleo1 January 15, 2014

        Isn’t the people the Nation? Doesn’t the first three words in
        the Constitution define that? Upholding the Constitution, is
        accomplished in many ways. Certainly you would agree that
        providing for the common good, could reasonably be ascribed
        as protecting the lives, and property of the citizens of the Country? Your point I think is, our Civil Rights need not be
        sacrificed for our safety, or security. Which cannot ever be fully
        guaranteed. And I agree. You say you would be willing to give
        up, “a little protection,” to maintain the Rights spelled out in
        that same Constitution. That we must not destroy the Constitution, to save the Constitution. And I think that’s right.
        But it’s the quantifying of this giving up of, “some of the protections,” that we must find some balance, and consensus.

    4. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

      My response is written above as an open comment to all. Nice post Charleio1

      1. charleo1 January 15, 2014

        First let me thank you for your consideration on my post. And, also, for not jumping all over me. Hey it happens.
        And I understand that. Plus, I agree with every statement you made. On an issue you obviously are informed, and care a great deal about. As well we all should. But, here’s the thing. Idamag, brings up something, which I think is at the heart of the matter. And that is fear. And I would add politics. In the days and weeks after 9/11 when the Patriot Act was hastily drawn up, and passed with near unanimous consent through Congress. Fear, or hysteria, as Idamag points out, was so pervasive in this Country, as to be palpable. A good part of the hysteria was concentrated in the void of information we had about who,’they,” were. How they had managed to do this. And more importantly, are there more attacks? And if so, my God where? Or when? Was a government behind it? N. Korea? Iran then? Or Iraq? Just this big frightening void of black. And my concern is, are we going to be able to deal with that, in the aftermath of such attacks in the future? Will we be willing to hold firm aganist those techniques at the State’s disposal, that might provide that kind of information, but, would violate, or partially violate our Rights to our privacy? We will probably not know the answer to that until it’s put to the test. But, I have my serious doubts. But, I do think it is time, or past the time, now that 12 years has elapsed since 9/11. That we should in an atmosphere of calm, reassess those overreaches into our Civil Rights. Set some corrective limits, provide more oversight, and put some teeth in laws that set new parameters, so there are consequences for those, both in, and outside of government who cross them. But, as I said, the politics that’s grown up around this issue of terrorism are atrocious, when it comes
        to rolling back some of these programs. Obama is throwing
        the entire issue to Congress. Which, for a number of reasons, seems both approiate, and also the reason, like
        everything else, nothing will probably get done.

        1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

          Check out the recent video posted above…

  4. SibyllasStuff January 15, 2014

    If the administration continues to try to fast track the TPPA and they get their way, we will have even fewer freedoms and we won’t even be able to discuss it. We will have the continued push for one size fits all one world government in the form of fascism – the binding together of business and government and the multinational corporations, banksters, and their lackeys will continue to be in charge. As far as the Constitution goes, didn’t GW say it was only a piece of paper?

    1. dpaano January 15, 2014

      Yes, and he and Cheney actually believed they didn’t have to adhere to it!

      1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

        Because the Patriot Act gave them the authoirty…and the American people sat back and did nothing….

        And that is the problem. 
Not speaking out.
        it leads to apathy that is the food for justifying shredding the 4th Amendment.
        The Bush/Cheney and the American people’s near destruction of the Bill of Rights by the “Patriot Act” was no patriot act….this was a “facist act.”
        So—why are you complacent? Here is the answer from a remarkable movie about how a police state and fascist dictator can take control:
        “I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense……Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler….. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.”……From the movie ‘V FOR VENDETTA”
        The American peope turned to “high chancellor” Bush/Cheney after the election was stolen from Al Gore by the Supreme Court…and 911 occured…
        The rest—as they say—is history.

        1. dpaano January 15, 2014

          You hit it on the nose…..besides, I don’t think the American public was ever aware of the shenanigans going on in our government by Bush & Cheney! Until it was done….we weren’t aware, and we’re becoming more and more aware now! Unfortunately, it’s basically too late to fix most of the problems they caused! All we can do is try to keep things from getting worse and trying to get rid of some of the errors they made!

          1. Sand_Cat January 15, 2014

            If they weren’t aware of what was going on, it seems to me it was because they didn’t want to know, at least in most cases.

  5. dpaano January 15, 2014

    I’m appalled about this…..I’m okay with the government keeping an eye on my phone calls, e-mails, etc. because I don’t have anything they can’t see and the internet keeps track of a heck of a lot more information than I prefer anyway. BUT, the border patrol had NO justifiable reason to take someone’s laptop and keep it for 11 days, especially a U.S. citizen! He explained why he had information on his laptop and that it was for his thesis…..all they needed to do was check his college to see if he was actually working on his Master’s or Ph.D and what his major study was. If they had taken 10 minutes to do this, this person could have gone on his way without someone snooping in his laptop. I agree that there are things in people’s laptops, etc., that are personal in nature and should NOT be open to scrutiny, and this is totally unacceptable!!!

    1. mah101 January 15, 2014

      Hint – its none of their business if he has pictures on his laptop, if he is a graduate student, or any of that. It is NOT probable cause and it is not sign of intent, and he has committed NO crime or offense.

      It is NOT ok. And I strongly disagree with you on the phone and email issue. I don’t care if you have anything to hide or not. No! No more invasion of our lives under the false guise of “protecting us”

      1. dpaano January 15, 2014

        Then I suggest you stop using Facebook, stop using your store credit cards and ATM debit card, stop tweeting, stop using your grocery store club card, stop ordering from Amazon or any other on-line store, etc. There’s MORE information out there on everyone that anything that NSA or anyone else could possible care about! You’re ridiculous and are not thinking about every other source of information that is available to anyone via on-line sources!

        1. mah101 January 15, 2014

          Nice distraction. We are talking about the US government. Am I concerned about Facebook, Google, and the Apple Store, sure. Is that what we are talking about, no.

          It is hardly ridiculous to be concerned about this. I’m sorry you take your constitutional rights so casually.

          1. Allan Richardson January 15, 2014

            Facebook, Google and Apple cannot put you in jail. That is the big difference.

          2. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014


          3. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

            5th amendment due process suspended by Government…

            Amendment V:

            “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any
            person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;

            nor shall private property be taken for
            public use, without just compensation.”

            Rights in the Face of Government Overreach


          4. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

            But those corporations could violate the 5th amendment ie “nor shall private property be taken for
            public use, without just compensation.””

          5. dpaano January 15, 2014

            I take my Constitution VERY serious; spent 26 years in the military defending it! However, I also take the total security of America very seriously also!

          6. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014


            Serving 26 years means nothing as it relates to actual education and knowledge of the Constitution, its history and how it came about…and how to really protect it…

            The security of America you would give up… by believing its ok to dissolve individual liberty, the 4th amendment, in the name of “national security”….you and your ideological sympathizers make us less safe….


            I want you to post your real name, and the branch of military you were in. I read these claims of service, delta force, navy seals etc and it is only posted when there are no other reflective, educated thoughts about anything…

            Yeah—you served to preserve protect and defend the constitution…you dont give rats behind about the 4th Amendment that you supposedly served for because you dont mind if it is shredded…

            The ends never justifies the means and CERTAINLY not giving up liberty…

            “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”……Ben Franklin

            “In seeking the needle of terrorism, we have built the biggest haystack in history.” – Zachary Katznelson

          7. dpaano January 15, 2014

            Daniel: My name is Michele Deady-Paano, LTC, USA (Ret). Is that sufficient enough for you? As for my not knowing the Constitution, I have read it thoroughly, have a copy on my desk that I refer to constantly, and I’m not stupid. I have an MBA in International Business with a minor in American Politics. As for giving up my liberty….all I was doing was pointing out that no one can expect to have complete privacy with the internet as open as it. And, unlike most of you, I, personally, don’t think the fact that NSA is keeping my metadata is any cause for me to get my knickers in a bunch! I would rather that they are aware of the terrorists and stop them BEFORE anything goes wrong before I’m worried about them listening to my telephone conversations. And, I don’t think that’s giving up my personal liberty, and that’s just MY opinion, which I believe I’m allowed to have.

            No, I don’t agree that the Border Patrol should have stopped and frisk the student….as I think I said before, I think that is a little ridiculous! It went WAAAAY aboveboard as far as I’m concerned, and I would be just as upset about it as he probably is.
            Some agencies seem to take the Patriot Act a little to the extreme.

          8. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

            Thank you for the disclosure.

            I want to thank you for your service. Especially 26 years…

            And yes….you certainly have a right to an opinion as we all do, and yes, you served to help defend the 1st amendment…

            The issue is HOW the Government goes about surveillance.

            By believing this: “I, personally, don’t think the fact that NSA is keeping my metadata is
            any cause for me to get my knickers in a bunch! I would rather that
            they are aware of the terrorists and stop them BEFORE anything goes

            You would undermine or throw away the 4th amendment….and that is not acceptible.

            The ends or reasons utilized to justify suspending the 4th amendment to gain private info does not justify the illegal and unconstitutional means to do so.

          9. Independent1 January 15, 2014

            Daniel, how does the NSA know who is a terrorist? And if someone is plotting a terrorist plot, how are they going to find out all the people involved unless they’re compiling metadata on everyone? There are 300 pluss million people in America, any number of which could be collaborating to blow up the George Washington Bridge for example. Say the CIA gets a tip of that about a Mr. X and needs to know who Mr X. is maybe collaborating with. If the NSA doesn’t have a complete set of Metadata, it would make it extremely difficult for them to put all the pieces together in trying to prevent the attack.
            Do you even realize that there are almost 3 billion phone calls made in America each day and that there are almost 300 billion emails sent? And those are just internal US phone calls and emails; there are more related to overseas communications. Can you even begin to imagine the probablity that the NSA is actually monitoring any particular Americans emails or phone calls UNLESS they’ve gotten a tip or been asked to specifically monitor someone??
            The picture hat most Americans have of someone listening in on their calls or watching their emails is in and of itself a total absurdity. At the most, the NSA may have screening software that quickly scans calls or emails for pre-determined key words that the NSA has found are typical for terrorist to use. The court evaluated the NSA in depth and could find no evidence that the NSA had used the information it has for any purpose other than Securing the country.
            AS dpaano pointed out – Google, Apple, your local phone company, the stores or websites you shop at, actually no more about you on a daily basis than the NSA UNLESS you’ve done something or the NSA has gotten a tip to really start monitoring you. And when they need to monitor you, they need a complete backgound of all your recent communications to determine just who you are actively communication with. All this hyperbole about the 4th Amendment and all the privacy violations are nothing but fear mongering. And Ben Franklin lived in a far less complex time than we do today and I’m not sure he would have uttered the words you keep posting if he was living in this time.

          10. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

            Please….I have expressed my opinion and outlined it backed with facts…numerous posts….

            Apologizing for the destruction of the 4th amendment gets us nowhere..

            i ansered dpaano…and others with facts…

            Go back and read all my links.

            they answer your post…

            i need not state my view any further…

          11. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

            Also–please look at the video just posted above…

          12. dpaano January 17, 2014

            I did……thank you.

          13. Independent1 January 15, 2014

            You’re not alone here. This appears to be one issue that turns a lot of people into paranoids who refuse to believe that the NSA IS NOT monitoring individual phone calls and emails UNLESS they have reason to do so such as a suspicion that someone is engaged in some nefarious activity. With 3 plus billion phone calls per day and close to 300 billion emails, the NSA is actively monitoring only a very small percentage of actual calls and emails. At the most they have scanning software that may be checking calls and emails for keywords which they’ve learned that terrorists may use. And as far as the 4th Amendment, no one has proven yet that what the NSA is doing ARE “UNEASONABLE SEARCHES” since so far there’s no evidence they’ve done anything with the metadata but use it to provide security for the country.

          14. dpaano January 17, 2014

            I guess what I don’t understand is why people are SO paranoid about this…..the NSA isn’t looking at the average person’s information unless they’re making phone calls to Syria or some other Middle East country. There’s so much more that is available to anyone via the internet; i.e.,. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. The NSA isn’t interested in the average person. I’m glad that they are doing what they are doing because my security is more important that the phones calls that I make or the e-mails I send. As I’ve said many times, it’s just my opinion, and people may not agree with me. I just think the American people are getting too paranoid about their “rights.” I DO agree, however, that better controls need to be put on the NSA on how and what it is doing, and I think they are going to do that. The FISA (I think that’s it) needs to be better controlled by our government so that they don’t just willy nilly get into things that they don’t need to get into; i.e., bugging other country’s leaders.

          15. charleo1 January 17, 2014

            It seems to me, it’s the deterioration, or loss, of the
            public trust in our institutions, that have created much of the paranoia over the government’s considerable
            ability to covertly observe the activities of millions of
            us, who are after all, the way some are looking at this
            issue, doing nothing that would constitute a reason
            for such scrutiny. It’s a position not without it’s merit.
            But, here’s my take. If we use a point in time where
            the trust level of the general population was high. Say, at the end of the Second World War. Some of that trust was eroded away intentionally in the McCarthy era. Some by a less than satisfactory ending in Korea. A worse, and bigger hit came in the 60s with the loss in Vietnam. And, was of course, followed by Watergate, and a period of malaise due to a continuing faltering, and unstable economy. And
            just the ever rising price of gasoline during this period, I think, contributed to a general feeling, that something was rotten, somewhere. That we were
            being taken advantage of, with the complicity of the
            Government. We tried changing political Parties,
            with Carter, without discernible improvement. Then
            back to the GOP, with Reagan’s salve of artificial
            optimism, conjuring up pictures from a bygone era
            of America as the, “Shining city on a hill.” Whatever
            that was supposed to be. It turned out to mostly be just one more empty promise, and another reason to distrust the government. Finally, I don’t think we can discount the erosion of public trust, as the result of the duel catastrophes of the attacks of 9/11, and the near collapse, of the economy, and the deep financial wounds the Country sustained over the last decade, by the extremely costly in both blood, and treasure, of our two longest wars. That to many, in retrospect, seem unnecessary, and certainly not worth the cost. The Right has of course whipped the mistrust of government into a political strategy. And,
            it seems to me, the reactions to NSA are very much the consequences of that loss in faith of our governmental institutions to keep us safe, and to be truthful, as to how they claim they must go about
            doing so.

          16. dpaano January 17, 2014

            Charleo1: Thank you for the excellent explanation. You are entirely correct. At the time the Patriot Act was enacted, we were in a major state of disarray and hysteria. Of course, the Bush/Cheney administration saw it as a PERFECT chance to take away some rights of the people, which they did. Unfortunately, as you said, it needs to be revamped somewhat so people will not feel that their rights have been completely disregarded in lieu of safety.

          17. charleo1 January 17, 2014

            Well, I certainly thank you for your input on this subject. With your 26 years of experience in the military. Your appreciation of the risks faced on a daily basis by the U.S. from terrorism, around the world. With a working knowledge of these electronic surveillance techniques, provides some much needed perspective. Because, I believe that is what is most lacking. As we all try to find that balance between protecting the Rights of a free people, to be free of unreasonable intrusion into our privacy. But, still do the necessary things, that converge as the best overall strategy to ferret out those who would cross into our borders to do us harm. And, may try to do so, in innumerable ways. Is that money transfer from Yemen, just a Father paying his daughter’s tuition? Or, the financing for the materials to build a bomb? Or do we, in the interest of holding sacrosanct the 4th Amendment, stop checking such things altogether? For some, any surveillance of the kind that could discover such a thing, will be deemed far too much. But the larger truth is, that might be all the identifier we get. Then, what I wonder, what I fear, is any letting down of our guard, done in the interest of assuaging the fears of a cynical, and skeptical public, may look foolhardy, and unforgivable, in the terrible aftermath. But, my problem in this, I don’t know. And what the outraged at having their Rights abused, will not say, is they don’t know either.

          18. mah101 January 15, 2014

            I thank you for your service and respect the commitment and dedication it represents. It is greatly appreciated, Truly.

            However, there is a balance between security of the country and preservation of the rights we are so fortunate to have. You know this, I’m certain. I suspect we’re arguing over the point at which that balance is best found. My perspective, and that of I believe many others, is that we have gone too far towards security at the expense of our rights, and have violated the promises we made to ourselves in the Constitution.

          19. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

            Distraction it is…

        2. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

          We are talking about serious abuses of power and violation of individual liberty and right to privacy by GOVERNMENT shredding the 4th Amendment with Supreme Court approval and House/Senate duplicity.

          It is fanciful to bring up corporate abuses of privacy because they have learned that the American people wont fight back…

          4th Amendment shredding Foreshadowed in culture by movies ‘THE NET”, ENEMIES OF THE STATE, SEIGE, and hundreds of books about the subject. Most notably “1984.”

          Americans have become so uneducated, ignorant and complacent and non-caring about their right to privacy. Taking for granted their “Bill of Rights.”

          And collectively the people are not realizing it is going down in flames via GOP/Teaparty Supreme Court….and yes….corporations like Facebook…


          Amendment IV

          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.

        3. Politiva_com February 3, 2014

          Its one thing if Somebody wants to sell me piece of gum it’s another if my Government wants to identify me as a “malcontent”. You are also foolish to think that that corporate Americas information gathering and analysis is more sophisticated than the NSA’s. BTW If you have nothing to hide why not post up your sexual history here and your medical and mental health records? You’ve got nothing to hide right?

    2. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

      as was posted below:

      Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

      Ben Franklin

    3. Sand_Cat January 15, 2014

      The claim that it’s OK because you have nothing to hide has been debunked here many times, but shouldn’t need to be: when you give people the right to invade your life without cause, you also give them the right to do creative editing on what they find or use it to figure out other ways to shaft you or perhaps your friends if any of you object to anything the government does. The mind obsessed with control, like the criminal mind, can come up with ways to misuse what appears to be the most innocuous of information that honest people would never dream of.

      1. Independent1 January 15, 2014

        The courts have been able to find no evidence that the NSA has used the information it gathers for anything other than protecting the nation; which is why they have chosen so far to not restrict the NSA’s activities.

        1. dpaano January 17, 2014

          As I said, the average person in the U.S. is getting terribly paranoid about nothing! Just my opinion!

  6. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

    “In seeking the needle of terrorism, we have built the biggest haystack in history.” – Zachary Katznelson

    The first shredding of the 4th amendment occurred when the Patriot Act was passed. The Patriot Act should never have been passed. Ten years later, it should be repealed for at least four reasons…I want to thank james wuilson for providing clarity in this matter.

    First, the Patriot Act attacks the First Amendment…
    * Americans can be investigated for what they read and write, and what websites they’ve visited
    * The Feds can “gag” my bank, my librarian, and my Internet Service
    Provider, preventing them from telling me if I’m under investigation

    Second, it undermines the Fourth Amendment… (http://tinyurl.com/yehnak2)
    * The Feds do not even have to show “reasonable suspicion,” let alone “probable cause,” to gain access to my records
    * Because I can be investigated without my knowledge, I have no means to challenge illegitimate searches

    Third, there is little reason to believe terror acts have been prevented by the Patriot Act…
    * If the law was used to foil terrorist plots, the Administration would boast about such instances
    * Instead, foiled terrorist plots are frequently sting operations using undercover operatives and informants

    Fourth, there is reason to doubt whether protecting the people from terrorism was ever the Patriot Act’s real purpose…
    * Expanded wiretap and search authority are used in ordinary domestic criminal investigations, not just in terror cases
    * The Executive branch has a “secret” interpretation of the Patriot Act that is inconsistent with a plain reading of it (http://tinyurl.com/3nn47kn)
    * Meanwhile, the FBI continues to collect data collection through
    National Security Letters — some 40-50 thousand are issued per year (http://tinyurl.com/3varjc9)

    How is it permissible for the Executive to have
    “secret” interpretations of the law? What is the Executive doing with
    the information it secretly collects about us, without our knowledge?

    Shouldn’t citizens of a Republic be ASHAMED of this behavior by their

    The Patriot Act attacks our freedom, our values,
    and our way of life — the very things its supporters claim it protects.
    It promotes secrecy and prevents accountability in our federal
    government. It has fostered a Big Brother culture throughout Washington
    DC that led to similarly egregious legislation like REAL ID and the FISA
    Amendments Act.

    For more info read here:


  7. NCSteve January 15, 2014

    I went to law school in the late 80s. All of the stuff people have suddenly discovered about the limits of the 4th Amendment were already in place then. I remember being shocked at the extent to what I though were the iron clad guarentees of the 4th had been chipped away, a sliver at a time by the Burger and then Rehnquist courts, each time for the most excellent of reasons and each time without any evident regard being given to the cumulative effect of these little chips.

    And when I tried to explain that to people, they would either sneer at me as some kind of soft on crime libbie, react with that “you can’t possibly know what you’re talking about” thing, or just shrug their shoulders.

    So now, as I find people suddenly getting themselves into a twist over this, part of me wants to just smack my forehead, but the other part is uncomfortably aware that despite the systemic downsizing of the 4th people are suddenly belatedly upset about, we’ve somehow not descended into dystopian tyranny, no matter what the cool kids who spell “America” with a “k” and lowercase “a” say on their social media postings.

    1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

      What law school? Nice you took time to post….

      Essentually correct…

      Not sure of this…
      “we’ve somehow not descended into dystopian tyranny…”

      The conditions for the final descent are in place with The Patriot Act” combined with continued complacency by citizens.

    2. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

      You might be interested in this:

      Understanding Fourth Amendment realities


    3. Sand_Cat January 15, 2014

      Nice post, but I have to doubt that most, or even many, of the Burger and Rehnquist courts’ decisions against the Fourth were made for “the most excellent of reasons” unless you consider right-wing paranoia and determination to control the private lives of citizens good reasons. But then, I gather that was the point of the post.

      1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

        As always Sand Cat you bring in a perspective that reminds posters of what they are really saying in between the lines….appreciated…

        The issue of the passage of The Patriot Act AKA ‘The Fascists Act” has create some “righteous indignation” to those that really understand what is happening to this country by the extreme right.

        We celebrate a day of infamy on December 7th, when there was a sneek attack on the USA.

        I think another far more significant day of infamy occured…a different kind of sneak attack:

        PATRIOT Act is an Act of Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001.

        The suspension of the civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitition, the 4th Amendment, occurred.

        At least the Japanese on December 7th didn’t do that…

        And the assault on the 4th Amendment has continued under the GOP/Koch brothers controlled Supreme Court.

      2. NCSteve January 16, 2014

        By “most excellent of reasons,” I mean a rationale that sounds perfectly reasonable and inherently self-limiting if you don’t pay any attention to the cumulative effect of all of the other cases based on rationales that sounded perfectly reasonable and inherently self-limiting.

  8. Jambi January 15, 2014

    Perhaps The “Patriot Act” is NOT so “Patriotic” after all…Long Live Jambi

    1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

      Trivialization of this extremely important article serves no purpose…it is a distraction… Jambi the Genie your profile photo was Mystical, sarcastic genie featured on the Saturday morning children’s program PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE/CBS/1986-91.

      So if you have something really imortant to contribute…please astound us with saracasm that has something to do with the article…

      In reality—The quote “Patriot Act is not so patriotic after all” is most notably used by this website that outlines the American peoples complacency as the 4th amendment is destroyed…

      A Nation of Sheep Nov 26, 2007
      Here is a three-minute video worth watching. It shows how the so-called
      “Patriot Act” is not so patriotic after all.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvu12z832Xc – See more at: http://www.gods-kingdom-ministries.net/daily-weblogs/2007/11-2007/a-nation-of-sheep/#sthash.ZkViz5mw.dpuf

      If this is what you meant to say…then say it.

  9. Bryan Blake January 15, 2014

    The final assault upon the 4th Amendment began with the declaration of the so-called War On Drugs. Many many law enforcement officials and judges had never liked the 4th Amendment. They were the “law and order” types who believed that criminal defendants should have little or no rights and that the police were impeded by the rights of the targeted/accused/defendants. For much of our history police agencies basically ignored the rights of their targets. As it is today, the rights of the poor and minorities were especially abused, violated, suppressed or just simply ignored. With the advent of the War On Drug the destruction of the 4th Amendment took off on steroids. The government poured unprecedented sums of money into the development of “police technology” which led to the ubiquitous police presence in our society that we now are subject to. One of the earlier technology cases involved a thermal imaging device that would show the warmth generated inside of a building and viewed by police from outside of the perimeter/property of a building. The officers did not have to enter the boundaries of the property in order to see the thermal images. The police were looking for evidence of marijuana growing operations in a building. The use of grow lights gave off high heat signatures. Those heat signatures became the basis of a warrant to search the premises. One of the cases was fought all the way to SCOTUS which found that the use of thermal imaging devices could render images that became the basis of probable cause for a search warrant. A whole new school of remote “pre-search” technology was born and vigorously pursued. I submit that what we live in today is an extremely muscular time of “pre-search technology”. Thus, exists the NSA/Secret Alphabet Agencies and their ubiquitous known and unknown devices that we are plagued by. The Fourth Amendment was further put on life support and suffered some of its greatest wounds under the Patriot Act (perhaps the greatest misnomer in our history).

    The national security state has not yet taken its full bloom. If the next president is at least a centrist and at least one of the reactionary and destructive right wind five Justices leaves the court then there is still hope of the restoration of our Constitution and the rights of We The People. But always remember that a People is only as Free as those rights we extend our criminal defendants!

    1. daniel bostdorf January 15, 2014

      You are partially right about this:
      “The final assault upon the 4th Amendment began with the declaration of the so-called War On Drugs.
      Ronald Reagan.

      the final assault is the Patriot Act…

      “The national security state has not yet taken its full bloom.”
      Are you kidding?
      We live in a police surveillance state.

      Read Snowden’s release?

      East German style..the 4th amendment has been shredded…

      Our GOP is engaging in classic fascistic propaganda. This propaganda is helping to destroy the 4th Amendment. Along with Supreme Court.

      There are established absolutes that have clear defintions.

      Police State: a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures . (can be an essential element of any political system)

      Propaganda: ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc. (an essential element of Nazis fascism—-Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

      The American people have bought the lies and allowed for the 4th amendment to be essetially made unimportant.

      1. Bryan Blake January 16, 2014

        The War On Drugs began in 1971, under President “I’m Not A Crook” Nixon. Being an advocate of using the government to settle his own scores he did not hesitate to unleash law enforcement and cause the “not legal in the western world” war against such drugs and precipitating the birth of the multi-billion dollar annually and bloody drug industry. Remember that the 1960s and 70s were a time of great social upheaval. There were the “silent majority” (evolved into the moral majority) that were supposedly “law and order”. They were the groups that longed for times that never existed, just as many many do today. The Vietnam War pitted just about everyone against somebody else. My own generation was divided between those who could hide from the draft and those of us, like me, who wound up in Vietnam. Since it was demonized Vietnam Veterans and “hippies” that did drugs and committed other crimes the War On Drugs was easy to sell politically. People are now realizing that it was all a crock and that there are better ways to combat the problem. But it has allowed the law and order crowd a.k.a. GOP to establish a giant beachhead in their war against the Constitution.

        Yes we are on the razor’s edge of becoming a national security state. I do not believe that we will fall over to the dark side. Here is why:
        1. Corporations are not really people. In order to function they must depend upon us. They may have a CEO but a CEO is not its brain and the workers are not its body. Accordingly, corporations are not a unitary being and any cohesiveness is tentative and when stretched to its limits and struggling against its own weight the corporate entity will disintegrate. Corporations eventually become too big to do nothing but fail. This has been repeated throughout the long long history of capitalism. The time is coming, if corporations, the rich and ultra-rich continue to move the wealth to the top 1% and push the rest of the population into poverty their so-called free market capitalism will collapse. That has happened throughout our history. Hungry people are hard to control and their fear is overcome by the sounds and sights of their starving children, other relatives and friends. As food riots begin many will die at the hands of our militarized police forces and the military itself. Unlike many countries the United States does not have a history of tyrannical government. Because of that we will be “foolish enough” to resist!

        2. There are some very young tech savvy people who can run circles around all of our secret alphabet agencies. They are already giving the government much larger headaches than we can yet imagine.

        Until I start getting CDs and DVDs of the porno I download I am going to keep on believing. And if such packages arrive I am going to leave all of my electronics and grab my bags and head for my own “undisclosed locations”!

        1. daniel bostdorf January 16, 2014

          Great post!

          Gene Hackman in enemy of the state eh?

          1. Bryan Blake January 16, 2014

            Thanks, so was yours. It made me think about why I still have hope that we will come out on the other side.

  10. charles king January 16, 2014

    THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY THE PLUTOCRACTS THESE PEOPLE HAS PUT YOUR DEMOCRACY at risk check your Webster’s Dict. and check the meaning of both political groups then it should inform you of Who? or WHAT? government are we living under. I do (Critical Thinking) cause it is so hard to keep up with Whats? going on. I feel under seize in small town USA cause anyone with a pet prejudices can get a job as a clerk in spots (like) voting registration, causing delays, gun permits, social security details, etc..This is the kind of S*** that I am having in Johnstown, Pennsylvania so you know I am P*** cause it is very annoying, be viglent and try thinking clearly, and ask the What’s,? the Why?, the WHO?, and Where? to go to get help. Thank You ae the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. MONIES are messing with your DEMOCRACY, I really do not know if our Democracy is working or NOT? MR. C. E. KING

  11. joe schmo January 18, 2014

    Yup, here we go guys….. We are all on the same page on this one. Curious about your thoughts. Pretty soon we will have a chip inserted and then Father Government will really be able to keep track of our every move. Is this what you really want……?

    1. daniel bostdorf January 18, 2014

      It’s already here. Social Security number 🙂

  12. leadvillexp February 1, 2014

    Mr Pitts, we agree most of the time, We disagree on gun control and the Southern Flag. I find we agree again. We give up too many rights in the name of safety. I have fought for the 1st, 2nd and 4th amendment and it has cost me dearly. It has cost me a lot in court cases challenging these laws. I am of the middle class that they want to get rid of and could soon be of the poor. I will fight to the death for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as they were written. I find you would have us give up our Second Amendment rights in the name of safety. When you surreder one right you endanger all. You need to rethink that. As to the fourth we need to protect it and challenge the government at every turn. Let’s work to make logical laws and protect the rights we have.


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