Saturday, November 15, 2008

The 4th Amendment & FISA

There are often very emotional arguments made about this Right.

Amendment IV
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.

The question arises as to how to protect Our Citizens from criminals, terrorists, and from "big brother." Our Military and Law Enforcement are professionals that respect the Rights of Our Citizens. When one of their own do not uphold their values, the damage to their reputations is paralleled by the damage done that citizen.

But abuses do occur on occasion and in those instances, they deserve the same rights of presumption of innocence until proven guilty and a fair trial. The reaction from their former colleagues is likely to be greater than that from outside the community.

The events of the Murrah Building bombing and of 9/11 brought terrorism to our shores. While these are the most known and largest incidents of attacks against the American People by enemies previously little known to our people, they are not the first nor the last attacks against the citizenry.

Many of our leaders had ignored a threat that refused to be ignored. Osama had declared war on us twice including in 1998 but his threat was ignored.

A colleague was called to a Counter-Terrorism conference following 9/11. Top members of many agencies were there and asked: "Why are they suddenly attacking us?" My colleague responded that there was nothing sudden about it, but that they had ignored the attacks on our diplomats and Troops for decades. He reminded them of the USS Cole, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Beirut Bombings & Kidnappings, the attacks on our Embassies in Kenya & Tanzania and more.

Congress formed The 9/11 Commission which identified many holes in our security & intelligence fields. And even as one of the best example of bi-partisanship in Congress was assembling their findings, the Intelligence and Law Enforcement communities were already taking actions to overcome the shortfalls.

One important thing that came out of this was FISA. Much has been said about it but when it came time to review it in Congress, they instead interrogated Roger Clemens about whether or not he was at a party ten years ago and why there was blood on his pants in an elevator one day a decade ago.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is of great importance to our security but has the potential for abuse of the 4th Amendment. Logic and Common Sense in accordance with the Bill of Rights should dictate the debate, not emotional partisanship and slogans. Our Representatives have a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution while also providing the ability of Our Military, Law Enforcement, & Intelligence communities to protect us from those that desire to harm our people.

Rather than waste taxpayer dollars with investigations that should be conducted by Law Enforcement, Congress should have been ensuring that FISA protected Americans' 4th Amendment rights without alerting terrorists to surveillance. FISA legislation was necessary because the Administration of the 90's had made it near impossible to prevent an attack that the FBI knew was being planned. FISA provided for judicial review of cases for surveillance of terrorists.

FISA in part says:

‘(a) Authorization- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon the issuance of an order in accordance with subsection (i)(3) or a determination under subsection (c)(2), the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.
‘(b) Limitations- An acquisition authorized under subsection (a)--
‘(1) may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States;
‘(2) may not intentionally target a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States if the purpose of such acquisition is to target a particular, known person reasonably believed to be in the United States;
‘(3) may not intentionally target a United States person reasonably
believed to be located outside the United States
‘(4) may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States; and
‘(5) shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

And makes provisions for surveillance if warranted, while requiring a Court Order:

‘(a) Jurisdiction of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court-
‘(1) IN GENERAL- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court shall have jurisdiction to review an application and to enter an order approving the targeting of a United States person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information, if the acquisition constitutes electronic surveillance or the acquisition of stored electronic communications or stored electronic data that requires an order under this Act, and such acquisition is conducted within the United States.

I will not tell you that FISA is perfect, but if you wish to read the entire bill, you can find it here:

It is of great importance that Our Rights be protected while we walk that fine line between protecting our Nation and our Citizens from threats and protecting our Citizens from abuses of power. This is one of the many reasons we pay Our Representatives; to closely examine laws proposed by politicians. This is the reason we must be carefully examine the character and trustworthiness of those to whom we give our votes.

This is the reason Members of Congress swear to uphold the Constitution. It is disparaging that so many that sit in their seats are more interested in their Party, retention of Power, and blatant Partisanship, rather than the business of Our Nation.

But if Americans are going to regain their rightful place in governance, it will be one seat of Congress at a time. It will be through voting in those that take their oaths to heart. We, in Middle Tennessee do not have the opportunity to vote out Senator Reid, Representative Frank or Speaker Pelosi, but we do have the opportunity to put a Common Sense Citizen in Congress, a Veteran that will work against further erosion of the Constitution, that will oppose the radical leadership of California and Chicago.
TNTaylor©2008, Tennessee Taylor, all rights reserved.

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