R.I.P. Fourth Amendment (12/15/1791 – 07/09/2008)


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:


Oh, and there we were all in one place,
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again.
So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick!
Jack flash sat on a candlestick
Cause fire is the devil’s only friend.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan’s spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singing,
"bye-bye, miss American pie."

— American Pie, by Don McClean

On July 4th, many of the nation’s newspapers celebrated our Independence Day by publishing the Declaration of Independence in their editorial pages. Declaration of Independence | www.azstarnet.com ®  Among the enumerated list of grievances against King George III in the Declaration: "For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments…"

Following the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers adopted our Constitution in 1789. Because that document did not expressly enumerate the fundamental rights of liberty for which the Revolutionary War had been waged and won, Americans demanded a Bill of Rights which was adopted in 1791, comprised of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, to secure the fundamental rights of liberty for which they had sacrificed so greatly.

The Fourth Amendment provides 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.

Today, five days after we celebrated 232 years of our independence from the tyranny of King George III, the U.S. Senate followed the craven action of the U.S. House of Representatives and voted to abrogate the Fourth Amendment, and begin to abolish our most valuable laws (the Constitution and the Bill of Rights) and alter fundamentally our form of government.

With passage of the FISA Amendments of 2008, the Congress has breathed life into Richard Nixon’s prescription for tyranny that "when the president does it that means that it is not illegal."  Until today, the United States was a nation of laws, and no man, not even the president, was above the law.

With passage of the FISA Amendments of 2008, the Congress has ratified the criminal misconduct of the president in establishing an illegal domestic spy program by secret executive order, and provided retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies who were accomplices in the perpetration of the president’s crimes against the American people.

Just before the July 4th weekend, Bush-41-appointed Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker became the third judge — out of three who have ruled on the issue — to reject the Bush administration’s claim that Article II entitles the President to override or ignore the provisions of FISA.  Judge Walker’s decision (.pdf) was issued in the case of Al-Haramain v. Bush.  Judge Walker has joined Federal District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in the Eastern District of Michigan and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ronald Gilman in so ruling.  Thus, we have extremely strong decisions from multiple courts that the President deliberately broke the law for years — a law that provides that violations of its provisions are felonies punishable with 5 years in prison for each offense.  The Al-Haramain ruling and the current Congress – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com

Contrary to the oft repeated lie of President Bush, the illegal domestic spy program was not in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11.  According to trial testimony from Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, Former Phone Chief Says Spy Agency Sought Surveillance Help Before 9/11 – New York Times "At the time of the claimed meeting at the N.S.A.’s Fort Meade, Md., headquarters on Feb. 27, 2001, Mr. Nacchio was chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee."  Former CEO Says U.S. Punished Phone Firm – washingtonpost.com "Nacchio’s account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon."

The evidence leads to the conclusion that Bush’s illegal domestic spy program was developed during the transition period from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration, and the secret executive order authorizing the illegal domestic spy program had to have been signed by President Bush during his first month in office.  At that time, the Bush administration was only concerned with the passage of its massive tax cut proposal.  Richard Clarke was the president’s chief adviser on terrorism, yet it wasn’t until September 11 that he ever got to brief President Bush on the subject.  Clarke says that prior to September 11, the administration didn’t take the threat seriously. Clarke’s Take On Terror, What Bush’s Ex-Adviser Says About Efforts to Stop War On Terror – CBS News

If Bush’s illegal domestic spy program was such a priority at the time President Bush assumed office and was not in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, what was the motivation for his illegal domestic spy program, and who was his intended targets?  And how is it that the telecommunications companies, with the exception of Qwest which acted properly, did not demand that the government present a FISA warrant issued by the FISA Court?

These are questions to which the American people have the right to demand answers. But Congress has conspired with the executive branch to engage in a cover-up of the most massive crime ever committed against the Constitution and the American people.

This is one of the darkest days in American history. I mourn the death of the Fourth Amendment.  I mourn for the generations of American patriots who have gone before us who fought and died to defend the Constitution and liberty.  I mourn the fading of the light on the American experiment as we descend into the dark night of tyranny.


  1. Walt, that is not what I said, and it is not my interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. It is long-established Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and precedents (I practice Constitutional law).

    There is a patriotic core of members of the House and Senate who have consistently opposed this assualt on the Constitution. Sen. Arlen Specter is the only Republican who has spoken eloquently against this travesty, but like all Republicans, when it comes time to actually vote he votes out of loyalty to his party and president. He has no firm principles.

    On each of the votes to expand the power of the government to spy on American citizens without a warrant from the FISA Court under the law, not a single Republican has voted against the bill. Democrats split along ideological lines, with conservative Democrats siding with like-minded Republicans to give them a majority.

    The problem here is not a “conspiracy”, Walt, but conservatives who no longer believe in fealty to the Constitution and the rule of law. Rather conservatives have created a cult of the imperial presidency (an authoritarian figure). The conservative movement has become the authoritarian movement – but only for so long as a conservative is president.

    If Barak Obama somehow manages to be sworn in as the next president on January 20, 2009, you will see these very same conservatives turn on a dime and demand that Congress and the Courts check the powers of the executive branch. You see, it is really all about conservatives controlling the levers of power, not the presidency per se.

  2. Your article is alleging that over 450 members of Congress both Democrats, Republicans and Independents conspired with Bush to violate your interpretation of the 4th Amendment. This idea seems to stretch the credibility threshold of common sense.