Tag Archives | Fourth Amendment

The Feinstein Syndrome: ‘The Fourth Amendment for Me, But Not for Thee’

Diane Feinstein

Diane Feinstein

Who knows, soon we might see headlines and cable TV shows asking: “Is Dianne Feinstein a whistleblower or a traitor?”

A truthful answer to that question could not possibly be “whistleblower.” It may already be a historic fact that Senator Feinstein’s speech on March 11, 2014 blew a whistle on CIA surveillance of the Senate intelligence committee, which she chairs. But if that makes her a whistleblower, then Colonel Sanders is a vegetarian evangelist.

In her blockbuster Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, Feinstein charged that the CIA’s intrusions on her committee’s computers quite possibly “violated the Fourth Amendment.” You know, that’s the precious amendment that Feinstein — more than any other senator — has powerfully treated like dirt, worthy only of sweeping under the congressional rug.

A tidy defender of the NSA’s Orwellian programs, Feinstein went on the attack against Edward Snowden from the outset of his revelations last June.… Read the rest

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Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment

Picture: National Archives and Records Administration (PD)

Picture: National Archives and Records Administration (PD)

It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.

Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to “defend the Fourth Amendment.” That’s really what his amendment — requiring that surveillance be warranted — was all about.

No argument for the Amash amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud.

To quote those words was to take a clear side: “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.Read the rest

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Texas Becomes First State Requiring A Warrant For Email Spying

email spyingI never thought I’d say this, but, has Texas set an example that should be followed on the federal level? Ars Technica reports:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a bill giving Texans more privacy over their inboxes than anywhere else in the United States.

On Friday, Perry signed HB 2268, effective immediately. The law shields residents of the Lone Star State from snooping by state and local law enforcement without a warrant. The bill’s e-mail amendment was written by Jonathan Stickland, a 29-year-old Republican who represents an area between Dallas and Ft. Worth.

Under the much-maligned 1986-era Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), federal law enforcement agencies are only required to get a warrant to access recent e-mails before they are opened by the recipient. As we’ve noted many times before, there are no such provisions in federal law once the e-mail has been opened or if it has sat in an inbox, unopened, for 180 days.

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Supreme Court Considers Whether Government Has Right To Log DNA Samples Of Anyone Arrested

Does your arrest allow the government to access your genetic information? Conservatives, and the Obama administration, say yes. Via CNN:

The U.S. Supreme Court offered a surprising amount of concern about states laws allowing police to collect a DNA sample of anyone arrested — but not yet convicted — of serious crimes. A ruling will be issued within a few months, and could have wide-reaching implications in the rapidly evolving technology surrounding criminal procedure.

Privacy rights groups [say] the state’s “trust us” promise not to abuse the technology does not ease their concerns that someone’s biological makeup could soon be applied for a variety of non-criminal purposes.

“There is something inherently dangerous about DNA collection that is not the same as fingerprinting,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “How far do we let the state go each time it has some form of custody over you in schools, in workplaces, wherever else the state has control over your person?”

And civil liberties groups worry inadequate DNA testing by overwhelmed lab technicians can lead to errors, such as the one that sent Dwayne Jackson to prison for armed robbery.

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DHS Granted Right To Seize Any Electronic Devices Within 100 Miles Of A U.S. Border

As decreed by the Orwellianly-named DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Wired reports:

The Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog of  has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.

“We conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful,” the two-page memo said.

The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later.

According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. The government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.

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It’s A Trap! Ron Paul Warns Of McCain Immigration Plan Surveillance Implications

For those who are still quite fond of their 4th Amendment rights, Ron Paul raised the alarm over on his official Facebook page earlier today that the Senate’s current immigration reform package is a civil liberties nightmare.

The former Congressman and presidential candidate warned that the proposed McCain/Schumer immigration “reform” plan, as it exists now, would usher in warrantless surveillance of US citizens using drones, a de facto mandatory national ID system barring those without it from working legally, increased federal database information on US citizens, and the further erosion of our core civil rights under the guise of keeping our economy “safe” from a mostly non-existent wave of illegal immigration.

Scariest paragraph of Ron Paul’s post: “Harper rightly notes that E-Verify is in fact a national ID card, writing last week that, ‘the system must biometrically identify everyone who works—you, me, and every working American you know. There is no way to do internal enforcement of immigration law without a biometric national identity system.’”

Minority Report could be closer than we think. Open those eyes nice and wide for your iris scan, citizen!

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Federal Judge Rules Cops Can Set Up Cameras On Private Property Without Warrants

Ars Technica’s Timothy B. Lee reports on a case that will have wide-ranging implications in today’s omnipresent surveillance state:

A federal judge has ruled that police officers in Wisconsin did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they secretly installed cameras on private property without judicial approval.

The officers installed the cameras in an open field where they suspected the defendants, Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana, were growing marijuana. The police eventually obtained a search warrant, but not until after some potentially incriminating images were captured by the cameras. The defendants have asked the judge to suppress all images collected prior to the issuance of the search warrant.

But in a Monday decision first reported by CNET, Judge William Griesbach rejected the request. Instead, he approved the ruling of a magistrate judge that the Fourth Amendment only protected the home and land directly outside of it (known as “curtilage”), not open fields far from any residence.

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Indiana Supreme Court: You Have No Right to Resist Unlawful Police Entry

Police RaidCrazy. Reports the AP via the News and Tribune:

INDIANAPOLIS — People have no right to resist if police officers illegally enter their home, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in a decision that overturns centuries of common law.

The court issued its 3-2 ruling on Thursday, contending that allowing residents to resist officers who enter their homes without any right would increase the risk of violent confrontation. If police enter a home illegally, the courts are the proper place to protest it, Justice Steven David said.

“We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” David said. “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.”

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