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Amendments: The Forgotten Fourth


I’m really wondering what became of the “land of the free, home of the brave” thingy Americans used to claim. Bravery has turned to hiding under the bed, and freedom, well, that’s just another word that does not mean what I think you think it means.

We all remember the 2001 attacks on this country and how 40 days after Sept. 11 the 363-page USA PATRIOT Act was introduced and voted on by the House on the same day. The next day the Senate voted, and within 72 hours of introduction then-President George W. Bush signed it into law.

That should be the day we have memorial services. The death of freedom. And it wasn’t even hard fought. Congress, in some sort of pathetic paternal power grab, didn’t even read the bill it voted on.

Those outraged by the affront to our Constitution by the bill were told to join the Taliban, that they hated America and wanted us less safe and that “if you’re not doing anything wrong you’ve got nothing to hide.” Did Congress vote because it just liked the title? Ironically its acronym stands for “Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.”

How is anyone shocked? The tool box was developed years ago with the blessing of folks fraught with fantasies of a white hatted government taking care of them. Instead of acknowledging mistakes made, the swallowed the shiny hook “they hate us for our freedom” and “went shopping”.

A 29-year-old computer programer, Edward Snowden, blew the whistle on just how invasive the National Security Agency and FBI were going with their surveillance. Mr. Snowden was reporting an assault on our Fourth Amendment right against the illegal search and seizure — and now Attorney General Eric Holder is conducting a manhunt for him. Even though there have been no charges filed against him, Homeland Security has warned airlines about letting him on flights.

Are you kidding me? The Obama Administration has taken the ball from Bush and Cheney and run yards toward the goal line. More people have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act by Obama than any other administration — and at the same time the NSA is data mining citizens with no warrant.

Oh, boo hoo, I know. If only the folks with a Second Amendment fetish would fight as hard for the Fourth. …

It wasn’t that long ago we seemed a bit tougher. Who are all the wimped-out babies wallowing in the NSA’s abuse of power?

This week Congress was secretly briefed on all the times we were saved because of the data mining by NSA. So the ends justify the means? No. No. No. That’s not the point of “freedom.” And Congress? Well, it has hit a new low. Only 10 percent of Americans have confidence in their ability. I can only wonder if the same 10 percent think we don’t have unicorns because Noah couldn’t catch one to put on the Ark.

Plenty of people with their three-cornered hats on too tight will tell you their right to weapons is to protect them from tyranny and they are gunning for that fight with the feds. The Fourth Amendment, which has been shredded, came for a pretty good reason too. One could speculate that the absence of warrants and “colonial epidemic of general searches” sparked the Revolution. Actually, one John Adams did say that after watching James Otis argue in a 1761 court on behalf of 50 merchants who were sieged with searches.

We established the lesson of privacy in this country a long time ago.

A person had a right to his or her life — and belongings — and the government would have to prove enough to get a warrant. How is it that we can go along with the logic of “Castle law,” where a person can defend himself in his home with lethal force, but your belongings (communications and information) don’t deserve the same defense of intrusion from our government?

The fight for our privacy is just as important now as it was for the founders. Whether the domain is an email address or your home address, privacy is privacy — a right to be protected.

This article is cross-posted at The Anchorage Daily News.



5 Responses to “Amendments: The Forgotten Fourth”
  1. Zyxomma says:

    The most brilliant example of marketing was naming this despicable act USA-PATRIOT. To Congress, that meant that voting against it (as did the sorely missed Senator, Paul Wellstone) meant that one was unpatriotic. Tell me again, why did Wellstone’s plane go down? Thanks, Shannyn.

  2. nswfm says:

    Brava. Haven’t commented here in a long time, but this one was worth it.

  3. Will says:

    It’s time to bring out those old “Don’t Tread on Me” flags. Has the cause of freedom outweighing the length we will go to to see our rights trampled on? Have we sunk so low as to let government take over our lives just to feel secure? I’d rather be a free slave, an oxymoron I know, but a sane one … thank you…

  4. Valley_Independent says:

    Thanks, Shannyn.

  5. frank Gwartney says:

    Shannyn’s batting % for hitting it out of the park has got to be in the high 90’sand by now.

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