Let me be blunt: The current administration has crossed a line that prompted our ancestors to revolt against King George III.
In February, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the government doesn’t need warrants to spy on American citizens. You see, Gonzales said, we’ve misunderstood the purpose of the warrant for the last 200-odd years.
All along, the American public has labored under the misconception that the warrant required our government to demonstrate “probable cause” before going through our stuff. This, we thought, protected us from “unreasonable searches and seizures”.
Wrong! A.G. Gonzales explained: “The key question under the Fourth Amendment is not whether there was a warrant, but whether the search was reasonable.” In other words, we — the Executive Branch — decide whether a search is reasonable, and if we say it is, then we don’t need no stinkin’ warrant.
This is huge! Mark Anderson explains:
To fully appreciate the significance of the Bush administration’s assault on the Fourth Amendment, one should place this in a historical context. For King George III’s deputies to enforce his laws, Parliament passed the Writs of Assistance Act. Writs of assistance were warrants so general that they allowed the king’s agents to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted, for whatever reason they wanted. Writs of assistance were basically licenses for the king’s men to oppress the colonists. It was the writs of assistance that spawned the Revolutionary War. The Founding Fathers prevailed in the war against the Crown. The Founders gave us the Bill of Rights, which includes the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment condemns the concept of general warrants.
Fast-forward 230 years: King George W. Bush is surpassing George III, by attacking the concept of needing any type of warrant. Do we really want federal agents to go wherever they want, whenever they want, for whatever reason they want, with impunity?
Apparently, most Americans do, and that is tragic. Our ancestors fought for this?