(TargetLiberty.org) – When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution they wanted to ensure the government did not have the power to search its citizens with impunity. Unfortunately, Judge Andrew Napolitano says that is exactly what has been happening. Worse, it’s going to continue because nobody is paying attention.
The PATRIOT Act
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the US Congress wanted to prevent such an attack from ever happening again. One of their solutions was the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act). Section 215 of the Act has become very problematic.
Under section 215, the government is allowed to collect business records for intelligence investigations. This happens when the National Security Agency (NSA) asks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to hand over telephone records to “tangible things” (books, papers, records, etc) if it relates to a counterintelligence investigation.
In an op-ed, Judge Napolitano explains a “federal agent can authorize another federal agent to search and seize whatever the latter wishes to look at and capture” as long as a third-party “financial institution” possesses it. In the nearly 20 years since the law was passed, the definition of “financial institution” has expanded so much that the government can look at the personal information of almost any American.
Edward Snowden found the government wasn’t following its own laws and began a “warrantless mass surveillance” operation that is still happening today.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is supposed to protect Americans from this kind of radical search and seizure. It states every person has the right to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The founders specifically said that no warrants without probable cause should be issued allowing a citizen to have their things searched and seized. There is no ambiguity there.
So, how is the government allowed to continue using Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act?
This section of the bill and two others are going to expire on March 15. Congress is going to have to reauthorize it if they want it to continue. They’re not going to stop on their own, that’s become abundantly clear. And the only thing that moves Congress is public opinion. If you do not want the government to stomp all over your basic rights, call your congressperson and let them know.
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