Category Archives: United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. The first three Articles of the Constitution establish the rules and separate powers of the three branches of the federal government: a legislature, the bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a federal judiciary headed by the Supreme Court. The last four Articles frame the principle of federalism. The Tenth Amendment confirms its federal characteristics.
The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven states. The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. The Constitution has been amended seventeen times (for a total of 27 amendments) and its principles are applied in courts of law by judicial review.
The Constitution guides American society in law and political culture. It is the oldest charter of supreme law in continuous use, and it influenced later international figures establishing national constitutions. Recent impulses for reform center on concerns for extending democracy and balancing the Federal budget.
Friday, November 15, 2013
by Mike Adams
(NaturalNews) In a desperate bid to save the rapidly collapsing Obamacare socialized medicine program, President Obama announced a “fix” yesterday that would “allow” health insurance companies to avoid cancelling whatever plans haven’t already been cancelled due to Obamacare itself.
In doing so, Obama effectively declares himself absolute dictator over all laws across the country, assuming the power to enforce, ignore or alter laws at he pleases.
The problem with this is that such powers do not exist in the Office of the President. Like everything else surrounding Obamacare, Obama himself is simply inventing new powers as he goes along and hoping no one will question his assumed (illegal) authority.
“The unexpected compromise was announced amid growing revolt within Mr. Obama’s own party over his broken promise that Americans who liked their insurance could keep it. But it sparked another backlash as some legal scholars questioned whether the president had the authority to create the loophole,” reports the Washington Times.
It also, by the way, thrust the insurance industry into a state of chaos where insurance companies now have no idea what’s going to be “law” tomorrow, next month or next year. Apparently Obama can simply change his mind at any time and decide that insurance companies are suddenly engaged in mass criminal activities which can then be prosecuted under the law as it is written.
Beware of presidents who claim absolute power over Congress
This is how Hitler rose to power, of course. It’s how every tyrant throughout history got his start. It’s also precisely what the United States Constitution prohibits in Article II, Section 3, where the language demands that the President “take care that laws be faithfully executed.”
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say any President can simply choose to selectively ignore laws passed by Congress. Thus, Obama’s new “fix” is blatantly illegal from the start.
Even if it were legal under the U.S. Constitution, it is clearly discriminatory, allowing the White House to essentially decide which insurance companies “get” to be ignored by the law and which companies will be prosecuted for “illegally” keeping policies in place that violate the Affordable Care Act as written. This only creates yet more centralization of power in the White House, giving them the tools to silence dissent among insurance companies by wielding prosecutorial discretion as a political weapon.
Obama unleashes economic despair and market chaos on America
The health insurance industry is now suffering from a case of regulatory whiplash. Obama’s enforcement of federal law seems to change with the direction of the wind, and his highly irresponsible, immature actions are causing extreme market destabilization.
At this point, insurance companies have no idea what to believe. Nor do consumers who are shopping for plans. Healthcare.gov remains in a disastrous state and even though Obama has now announced his unconstitutional “fix” for people to keep their health care plans, there exists no government-legalized mechanism for insurance companies to reinstate policies already cancelled!
Thus, all the policies already cancelled are dead and gone forever. So it’s not even clear how Obama’s so-called “fix” helps anyone at all.
Like everything else in the Obama administration, this “fix” is nothing more than deceptive smooth talking to gloss over a problem and promote the delusion that everything is working just fine.
Obama’s campaign promise of “hope and change” has become a joke. Sometimes hope is little more than false hope pretending to be real. And sometimes, the most charming, slick talking salesman is actually a con artist. Kevin Trudeau is in prison right now for lying about a weight loss book. Obama lied to the whole country about a far more serious issue, and he gets rewarded with even more power in his unconstitutional effort to “fix” the very problem he caused in the first place.
What’s wrong with this picture?
- Obamacare ‘Fix’ Affirms Obama as Absolute Dictator with Power to Change Laws as he Pleases (joemiller.us)
I don’t know why the White House doesn’t just send Syria’s Bashar al-Assad a map of where it intends to attack with Tomahawk and other missiles. The bottom line, however, is that this much heralded military adventure is unconstitutional. The President has no authority to initiate the use of the military against Syria.
This has not stopped presidents from engaging the nation in wars, but the last declaration of war, as specified in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11, occurred on December 11, 1941 against Germany as a response to its formal declaration of war against the United States. Three days earlier Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor initiating a state of war.
As the Tenth Amendment Center points out, “Unless fending off a physical invasion or attack, the president is required to get a Congressional declaration of war before engaging in military hostilities in another country.”
Let us be clear about this. Syria has not declared war on the United States and, while the use of gas goes against an international convention against it, the Assad regime has already killed 100,000 Syrians in a civil war. Nor is Syria the only nation in the Middle East known to have used gas. Saddam Hussein gassed several thousand Kurds in Halabja, Iraq in 1988 and used it in his eight-year war against Iran. The West’s response was to do nothing except to condemn it.
As Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, points out, “Warfare is a very serious business whose first imperative is to deploy forces to win—rather than to punish, make a statement, establish a symbolic point, or preen about one’s morality.”
President Obama’s first mode of governance is to make a speech and then to assume the problem is solved. From his very first speech in Cairo in 2009, those in charge in the Middle East interpreted his policies as weakness.
When President Clinton lobbed a few missiles by way of retaliation for al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, Osama bin Laden concluded the U.S. was weak and set about planning the two attacks on the Twin Towers.
Dr. Pipes warns that “Bashar al-Assad’s notorious incompetence means his response cannot be anticipated. Western strikes could, among other possibilities, inadvertently lead to increased regime attacks on civilians, violence against Israel, an activation of sleeper cells in Western countries, or heightened dependence on Tehran. Surviving the strikes also permits Assad to boast that he defeated the United States.”
The Wall Street Journal opined that “there is no good outcome in Syria until Assad and his regime are gone. Military strikes that advance that goal—either by targeting Assad directly or crippling his army’s ability to fight—deserve the support of the American people and our international partners. That’s not what the Administration has in mind.”
What Obama has in mind is a symbolic attack in much the same way killing bin Laden was both necessary and symbolic. In making the announcement Obama declared “Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad,” adding that ”As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.”
Islam, however, is at war with the United States and the West. That is the declared aim of both al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The war in Syria is a civil war. There is no good outcome no matter whether the Assad regime wins or is overthrown. There is no strategic or tactical victory to be achieved by the United States in either case. Simply punishing the regime for using gas achieves nothing except to expend several million dollars’ worth of missiles.
The Tenth Amendment Center points out that “As they did in the war against Libya, those violating these strict constitutional limitations will like refer to an attack on Syria as something other than ‘war.’ But, changing the words they use to describe their actions doesn’t change the constitutional ramifications. Under the Constitution, a war is a war whether you call it a war or something else.”
The time is long past when America must address whether our military interventions in the Middle East have demonstrated any success. To date, they have not. The majority of Americans are opposed to an attack on Syria and both the Constitution and the collected wisdom of the public argue strongly against it.
We are, however, too far down the road thanks to the administration’s declared intention to do so. War it has been said is to be an extension of politics. We will witness a political gesture and one that is intended to demonstrate Obama is a leader internationally and domestically. He is neither.
It will be an attack on the constitutional powers of Congress as much as an attack on Syria.
Source: © Alan Caruba, 2013
By John Shiffman
WASHINGTON – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.
“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”
THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION
The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.
Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.
“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”
A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.
But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.
A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.
After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”
The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”
A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.
“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.
Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.
A QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY
“That’s outrageous,” said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. “It strikes me as indefensible.”
Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin “would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional.”
Lustberg and others said the government’s use of the SOD program skirts established court procedures by which judges privately examine sensitive information, such as an informant’s identity or classified evidence, to determine whether the information is relevant to the defense.
“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”
Some lawyers say there can be legitimate reasons for not revealing sources. Robert Spelke, a former prosecutor who spent seven years as a senior DEA lawyer, said some sources are classified. But he also said there are few reasons why unclassified evidence should be concealed at trial.
“It’s a balancing act, and they’ve doing it this way for years,” Spelke said. “Do I think it’s a good way to do it? No, because now that I’m a defense lawyer, I see how difficult it is to challenge.”
CONCEALING A TIP
One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.
“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.” The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.
A senior DEA official said he was not aware of the case but said the agent should not have misled the prosecutor. How often such misdirection occurs is unknown, even to the government; the DEA official said the agency does not track what happens with tips after the SOD sends them to agents in the field.
The SOD’s role providing information to agents isn’t itself a secret. It is briefly mentioned by the DEA in budget documents, albeit without any reference to how that information is used or represented when cases go to court.
The DEA has long publicly touted the SOD’s role in multi-jurisdictional and international investigations, connecting agents in separate cities who may be unwittingly investigating the same target and making sure undercover agents don’t accidentally try to arrest each other.
SOD’S BIG SUCCESSES
The unit also played a major role in a 2008 DEA sting in Thailand against Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout; he was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. The SOD also recently coordinated Project Synergy, a crackdown against manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of synthetic designer drugs that spanned 35 states and resulted in 227 arrests.
Since its inception, the SOD’s mandate has expanded to include narco-terrorism, organized crime and gangs. A DEA spokesman declined to comment on the unit’s annual budget. A recent LinkedIn posting on the personal page of a senior SOD official estimated it to be $125 million.
Today, the SOD offers at least three services to federal, state and local law enforcement agents: coordinating international investigations such as the Bout case; distributing tips from overseas NSA intercepts, informants, foreign law enforcement partners and domestic wiretaps; and circulating tips from a massive database known as DICE.
The DICE database contains about 1 billion records, the senior DEA officials said. The majority of the records consist of phone log and Internet data gathered legally by the DEA through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. Records are kept for about a year and then purged, the DEA officials said.
About 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents have access to the DICE database, records show. They can query it to try to link otherwise disparate clues. Recently, one of the DEA officials said, DICE linked a man who tried to smuggle $100,000 over the U.S. southwest border to a major drug case on the East Coast.
“We use it to connect the dots,” the official said.
“AN AMAZING TOOL”
Wiretap tips forwarded by the SOD usually come from foreign governments, U.S. intelligence agencies or court-authorized domestic phone recordings. Because warrantless eavesdropping on Americans is illegal, tips from intelligence agencies are generally not forwarded to the SOD until a caller’s citizenship can be verified, according to one senior law enforcement official and one former U.S. military intelligence analyst.
“They do a pretty good job of screening, but it can be a struggle to know for sure whether the person on a wiretap is American,” the senior law enforcement official said.
Tips from domestic wiretaps typically occur when agents use information gleaned from a court-ordered wiretap in one case to start a second investigation.
As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don’t worry that SOD’s involvement will be exposed in court. That’s because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.
Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent. But current and former agents said tips have enabled them to catch drug smugglers who might have gotten away.
“It was an amazing tool,” said one recently retired federal agent. “Our big fear was that it wouldn’t stay secret.”
DEA officials said that the SOD process has been reviewed internally. They declined to provide Reuters with a copy of their most recent review.
(Edited by Blake Morrison)
Posted by EU Times on Aug 3rd, 2013
The Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) is reporting today that Switzerland’s Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) is proposing that the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) issue an immediate “Situation: Grave, Do Not Travel” warning for the United States upgrading that North American nation from its current status as “Stable” and on par with a similar warning issued for the war torn Middle Eastern country of Syria.
According to this report, millions of data files on counter-terrorism operations from both MI6 and the CIA were stolen this past December (2012) by a senior computer technician of Swiss citizenship who planned to release them to Wikileaks.
These highly classified documents stored on NDB servers, this report continues, were stolen by what was described as a “very talented” still unnamed NDB technician senior enough to have “administrator rights,” giving him unrestricted access to most or all of the NDB’s networks.
The December, 2012 theft of these top secret British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) files, GRU intelligence analysts in this report say, came on the heels of a similar theft barely two years prior when MI6 spy Daniel Houghton, also a highly trained computer technician with “administrator rights,” was arrested while attempting to, also, release to Wikileaks thousands of top-secret MI6, MI5 and CIA electronic files.
Raising the fears of the NDB, however, this report says, were US National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) documents obtained from Edward Snowden by the GRU which show a “conclusive and provable link” between the man now known as the United States most wanted person, the still unnamed NDB spy, MI6 spy Houghton and US Army Private Bradley Manning, all of whom constitute what Swiss intelligence analysts say are the “iceberg tip” behind the largest theft of Western top-secret documents in modern history.
To whom the power behind these Western computer spies with unlimited “administration rights” and top security clearances, who have been releasing and/or attempting to release to the world these most secretive of documents, this GRU report quotes from NDB documents, Swiss intelligence analysts point to what they describe as a “cabal” of US military officers “fully intent” upon destroying the Obama regime, even if it means war.
Important to note is that this past February (2013) the Federal Security Services (FSB) had warned of the US military plan to assassinate Obama in what Russian intelligence analysts say will be a takeover of the United States similar to the coup currently being undertaken in Egypt; and the GRU had further warned this past November (2012) that the Obama regimes war against its own generals was, also, likely to end in a military coup after the Washington D.C. gun battle toppled the top US military leader, former Four-Star Army General and CIA director David Petraeus, of this planed takeover.
The “main tactic” being used by the Obama regime against its top military leaders, according to the NDB, has been the leaking of their private emails by the NSA/CSS as revealed by Snowden whose leaked documents prove that US intelligence operatives loyal to the Obama regime have been tapping everything done online by all Americans.
Of the greatest concern to the NDB, however, this GRU report says, was the Obama regimes targeting this past week of the renowned American statesman, retired four-star general in the United States Army, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the 65th United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, whom the NSA/CSS has threatened with the release of his private emails alleging an affair with a Romanian diplomat, which is the same tactic used to destroy the reputation and career of General Petraeus.
Unlike General Petraeus, however, this report continues, the NDB in their report note that General Powell has secretly notified the Obama regime of his intention “not to go down without a fight” and which led to forces loyal to the Obama regime opening fire on and destroying two F-16 fighter jets nearing Washington D.C. airspace Thursday evening (23:00 hrs EDT 1 August) believed to be headed towards the White House.
As to if these F-16 fighter jets were indeed targeting Obama, this report says, it is not certain, but the reaction by the Obama regime to this event has been unprecedented in that within hours of them being shot down the US issued a world-wide travel alert to last until 31 August and ordered the closing of at least 17 of its overseas embassies.
The shock announcement yesterday that the US would be closing these embassies, this GRU report says the NDB has discovered, is due to the Obama regimes fears that more computer thefts of top-secret documents relating to the Obama regimes collusion with extreme Islamic terrorists groups are going to be released and will allow them time to purge all of their embassy servers of incriminating information, especially those files relating to the true events of the 2012 Benghazi Attack led by rogue CIA operatives whom US Congressman Trey Gowdy warned yesterday were being kept from testifying, being relocated and given new identities.
Unbeknownst to the American people about the Obama regime, this report says, has been its tens of millions of dollars in funding of al-Qaeda terrorists to create an Islamic Emirate in Syria and its over $8 billion in secret funding to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood radicals, both forces who are currently being defeated on the battlefield and in the streets.
Equally unknown to the American people is that Snowden, a “high-level member,” according to the NDB, of the US military cabal threatening the Obama regime, had offered to return to America to face the charges leveled against him knowing that if were able to survive the citizens of his country would learn the full horrors of the monsters ruling over them, an offer that was rejected by the US.
Snowden’s fears for his safety have, indeed proved valid since the Obama regimes assassinations of Michael Hastings, Aaron Swartz and Barnaby Jack and as we reported on in our 29 July report revealing how the Russian military is currently preparing for all-out war.
And in one of the most shameful acts against the American people by their own mainstream press, their refusal to publish, let alone mention, Edward Snowden’s fathers open letter to Obama will stand forever as an indictment against those elites seeking to enslave these once great people forever, and as we can all read in its entirety:
July 26, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution
Dear Mr. President:
You are acutely aware that the history of liberty is a history of civil disobedience to unjust laws or practices. As Edmund Burke sermonized, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Civil disobedience is not the first, but the last option. Henry David Thoreau wrote with profound restraint in Civil Disobedience: “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”
Thoreau’s moral philosophy found expression during the Nuremburg trials in which “following orders” was rejected as a defense. Indeed, military law requires disobedience to clearly illegal orders.
A dark chapter in America’s World War II history would not have been written if the then United States Attorney General had resigned rather than participate in racist concentration camps imprisoning 120,000 Japanese American citizens and resident aliens.
Civil disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act and Jim Crow laws provoked the end of slavery and the modern civil rights revolution.
We submit that Edward J. Snowden’s disclosures of dragnet surveillance of Americans under § 215 of the Patriot Act, § 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments, or otherwise were sanctioned by Thoreau’s time-honored moral philosophy and justifications for civil disobedience. Since 2005, Mr. Snowden had been employed by the intelligence community. He found himself complicit in secret, indiscriminate spying on millions of innocent citizens contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the First and Fourth Amendments and the transparency indispensable to self-government. Members of Congress entrusted with oversight remained silent or Delphic. Mr. Snowden confronted a choice between civic duty and passivity. He may have recalled the injunction of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” Mr. Snowden chose duty. Your administration vindictively responded with a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Espionage Act.
From the commencement of your administration, your secrecy of the National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance programs had frustrated a national conversation over their legality, necessity, or morality. That secrecy (combined with congressional nonfeasance) provoked Edward’s disclosures, which sparked a national conversation which you have belatedly and cynically embraced. Legislation has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to curtail or terminate the NSA’s programs, and the American people are being educated to the public policy choices at hand. A commanding majority now voice concerns over the dragnet surveillance of Americans that Edward exposed and you concealed. It seems mystifying to us that you are prosecuting Edward for accomplishing what you have said urgently needed to be done!
The right to be left alone from government snooping–the most cherished right among civilized people—is the cornerstone of liberty. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson served as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg. He came to learn of the dynamics of the Third Reich that crushed a free society, and which have lessons for the United States today.
Writing in Brinegar v. United States, Justice Jackson elaborated:
The Fourth Amendment states: “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.”
These, I protest, are not mere second-class rights but belong in the catalog of indispensable freedoms. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart. Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. And one need only briefly to have dwelt and worked among a people possessed of many admirable qualities but deprived of these rights to know that the human personality deteriorates and dignity and self-reliance disappear where homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure by the police.
We thus find your administration’s zeal to punish Mr. Snowden’s discharge of civic duty to protect democratic processes and to safeguard liberty to be unconscionable and indefensible.
We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness, and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward.
On June 27, 2013, Mr. Fein wrote a letter to the Attorney General stating that Edward’s father was substantially convinced that he would return to the United States to confront the charges that have been lodged against him if three cornerstones of due process were guaranteed. The letter was not an ultimatum, but an invitation to discuss fair trial imperatives. The Attorney General has sneered at the overture with studied silence.
We thus suspect your administration wishes to avoid a trial because of constitutional doubts about application of the Espionage Act in these circumstances, and obligations to disclose to the public potentially embarrassing classified information under the Classified Information Procedures Act.
Your decision to force down a civilian airliner carrying Bolivian President Eva Morales in hopes of kidnapping Edward also does not inspire confidence that you are committed to providing him a fair trial. Neither does your refusal to remind the American people and prominent Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate like House Speaker John Boehner, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann,and Senator Dianne Feinstein that Edward enjoys a presumption of innocence. He should not be convicted before trial. Yet Speaker Boehner has denounced Edward as a “traitor.”
Ms. Pelosi has pontificated that Edward “did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents.” Ms. Bachmann has pronounced that, “This was not the act of a patriot; this was an act of a traitor.” And Ms. Feinstein has decreed that Edward was guilty of “treason,” which is defined in Article III of the Constitution as “levying war” against the United States, “or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
You have let those quadruple affronts to due process pass unrebuked, while you have disparaged Edward as a “hacker” to cast aspersion on his motivations and talents. Have you forgotten the Supreme Court’s gospel in Berger v. United States that the interests of the government “in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done?”
We also find reprehensible your administration’s Espionage Act prosecution of Edward for disclosures indistinguishable from those which routinely find their way into the public domain via your high level appointees for partisan political advantage. Classified details of your predator drone protocols, for instance, were shared with the New York Times with impunity to bolster your national security credentials. Justice Jackson observed in Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York: “The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally.”
In light of the circumstances amplified above, we urge you to order the Attorney General to move to dismiss the outstanding criminal complaint against Edward, and to support legislation to remedy the NSA surveillance abuses he revealed. Such presidential directives would mark your finest constitutional and moral hour.
Counsel for Lon Snowden