Image Thanks To : Cralg Dugas, Flickr

Eulogy for the American Constitution?

Another nail in the coffin of freedom

This recent headline from the Washington Post blew my mind. Led by John McCain, the U.S. Senate narrowly missed the 60 votes required to pass a bill allowing the FBI to access every person’s Internet browsing history…without a Warrant.

Are you fucking serious?!?!?

The Fourth Amendment explicitly stops the police and other government agents from searching people, or their property and papers, without “probable cause” that they have committed a crime. Remember the old phrase: “innocent until proven guilty?

Erosion of the 4th Amendment

Under President Bush, and in a similarly hasty movement following another disaster — 9/11 — The Patriot Act was passed, allowing the FBI to obtain telecommunication, financial, and credit records without a court order.

Next, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s 2008 amendment act grants U.S. companies immunity from being sued by their customers when they comply even with blatantly illegal government surveillance requests.

As the New York Times has illustrated, including a timeline of Surveillance Law Developments, the NSA see’s the erosion of privacy laws as progress

Speaking of the NSA, we shouldn’t forget the Snowden revelations around PRISM and the mass collection of data, all without warrant. This popular video, from NSA whistleblower William Binney, points out that there “is no privacy in a surveillance state.

Finally, and least we forget, we also had SOPA and PIPA: bills brought forward by the corporations which, while ostensibly were about copyright infringement, actually gave the power to the Justice Department to shut down any website or blog, at will.

Both sides are the same:

Don’t let party loyalty cloud your focus. Despite campaigning in 2008 against this act, and promising to repeal it, President Obama reversed his opinion during his presidency.

No more secrecy,” he said. “That is a commitment that I make to you.” And yet, as this link from the PBS nicely illustrates, Obama has supported and embraced domestic surveillance programs:

This isn’t Republicans vs. Democrats — both parties are complicit and united against our freedom of privacy.

Your freedom is at stake

Let’s be clear: there is no condition where anyone should ever have to give up their due process rights, and allow any government agency into their lives without a court order.

We’re on a slippery slope towards similar types of government policies that were seen in Nazi Germany. Bit by bit, under the guise of “security” and typically following a tragedy, freedom and liberty is being eroded.

While this bill hasn’t passed…yet… it’s shocking that there were 58 “yea” votes. That’s more votes then all three recent attempts to make it harder for people on the terrorism watch list to get guns. REALLY?!?!?

Somehow, blocking people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns is more handily rejected than eroding your rights to privacy — and some of these bills were even proposed by Republicans. This isn’t a split over gun ownership rights, nor should we let that debate distract us. This is clearly a bipartisan agreement on the erosion of privacy rights, veiled and couched in the fear of terrorism.

Moving forward

Rather than continue down a path of censorship, overhead drone surveillance, and the utter destruction of the 4th amendment, elected officials, sworn to uphold the constitution, should get back to the roots of liberty. Rather than let fear and intimidation erode the foundations that made the United States a great country, politicians should instead work to end the senseless wars and conflicts that generate tensions and terrorism. Politicians should spend effort on overhauling a broken healthcare system, an educational system that breeds a lack of critical thinking and healthy debate, and the revolving door of corptocracy — which shapes legislation towards the benefit of the elite few while sacrificing the masses who underpin the nation.

I’d humbly suggest politicians work to ensure every government agency treats people with respect, adhering to the constitution and it’s amendments, and focus on developing positive changes which impact the root problems underlying national tragedies.

We must also remember, however, that responsibility goes both ways . The people whom the politicians serve must also educate and inform themselves to the policies being shaped around them. It is the responsibility of the constituents to speak out, to demand liberty, and to encourage and vote for positive change. Admittedly, it can be very difficult to learn about policy issues, especially given the corruption of the mainstream media, but it’s of critical importance.

Now, more than ever, people must make an effort to educate themselves, seek out information from multiple channels, and take control of their future. People must prevent the erosion of liberties, fearlessly recognize and address the true problems facing us, and promote the development of positive change.

A word from a Founding Father

Few quotes are as well-worn as Ben Franklin’s, but it seems we need a reminder from the wisdom of the Founding Fathers of the United States:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
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