John Ashcroft v. the Constitution

Giving the FBI a ‘Blank Warrant’

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, household papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, will not be violated; and no warrants will issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized."

Keep in mind that the new law's definition of "domestic terrorism" is so broad, as we shall see in future columns, that entirely innocent people can be swept into this surveillance dragnet. You are not immune.

As law professor and privacy expert Jeffrey Rosen points out in the October 15 New Republic, "If [unbeknownst to you] your colleague is a target of [the already in-place] Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Investigation [with its very low privacy standards], the government could tap all your [own] communications on a shared phone, work computer, or public library terminal."

Furthermore, all this vast "intelligence" data can now be shared with the CIA, which is again allowed—despite its charter forbidding it to engage in internal security functions—to spy again on Americans in this country, and without a court order. People of a certain age may remember when the CIA did spy here on law-abiding dissenters, mostly on the left, in total contempt of the Constitution.

Next week: The breaking in of your doors when you're not there for FBI secret searches ("black bag jobs") under the authority of the USA PATRIOT Act.

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