Back to basics II: The third and fourth amendments

The Right Stuff


 Just a few more sentences on last week’s Bill of Rights one and two. It has been said that the American citizens, of late, have been so uninformed and mis-informed that they are incapable of defending the freedoms afforded them by the Constitution. Many of us believe this to be true and see examples of it every day.

How many times have we seen college students protesting the right of a visiting lecturer to their campus to speak? Many times, these students declare that lies will be told and bad information will be distributed. But don’t they understand that the reason speech should be protected is so that everyone’s voice can be heard, regardless of the offensiveness of the speech involved?  How easy would it be for an authoritarian government to declare criticism of it “dangerous” even “treasonous” and the like?

It is offensive speech that requires the most protection; no one is wanting to outlaw public compliments! Finally, on this subject, the cure for deceptive speech is reasonable speech that makes plain the deceptions authored previously. So, if we don’t want to allow certain speeches, could it be that people are worried that speech is soundly based and therefore will not be exposed as a lie, because it is not? A year’s worth of articles could be written on last week’s two amendments alone, but we must hurry on.

Next up:  Amendment 3

  • The Housing of Soldiers - No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment 4

  • Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures-

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.

Since our founding, by and large the third amendment concerning quartering soldiers in private residences has not been an issue. This amendment, like so many of the others, came in response to abuses suffered by soldiers in Europe and in the colonies. Private property, in many cases, was simply taken over by the army, with the people who lived their evicted to fend for themselves. This amendment forestalled that issue ever becoming a problem.

Ah, but that pesky fourth amendment! Does anyone believe that the NSA is not still collecting huge amounts of data on every American citizen? And do we recall that during the Obama administration outside “contractors” were allowed access to these records? If you doubt that, just search the term. Here is what you will find:

On April 26, 2017, an unsealed FISA Court Ruling unveiled a number of criminal activities that Barack Obama’s FBI, NSA, and DOJ participated in during his time in office. The report was actually completed before the 2016 election.  Americans had a right to know about it at that time, but the report was kept confidential until April 2017.

The FISA Court Ruling showed widespread abuse of the FISA mandate. According to the report, Obama’s FBI, NSA and DOJ performed searches on Americans that were against their fourth amendment rights. This went on for years. One paragraph in the report states that 85 percent of the Section 704 and 705(b) FISA searches made during the time of the audit (a few months in 2015) were non-compliant with applicable laws and therefore criminal. [From The Washington Examiner, Feb. 23, 2001.]

And here is the report from Michael Horowitz, Office of Inspector General, in charge of reviewing the clandestine services adherence to the fourth amendment:

“The purpose of this memorandum is to advise you that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has concluded its work on a review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) contracts awarded for a certain classified national security program by treating the OIG’s working draft report as a management advisory.  The objectives of the review were to assess the FBI’s awarding and administration of the contracts for this national security program, and to evaluate the FBI’s procedures and processes for ensuring contractor performance and compliance with the terms, conditions, laws, and regulations applicable to these contracts.  Based on the classification level of information discussed in the working draft report, the entire report was marked as Top Secret, pending classification review by the FBI. We held an exit conference with the FBI on Jan. 22, 2020, and we provided your staff with a copy of our working draft report.  In the working draft report, we identified several concerns with the FBI’s administration of these national security contracts.  Our working draft report contained 11 recommendations for the FBI to improve its procedures and practices related to contract administration associated with a certain national security program, and other national security programs, as applicable.  In addition to the oral feedback provided by the FBI at the exit conference, the FBI subsequently provided us with written comments addressing our working draft report on March 11, 2020.  These have been retained as part of the working draft report.”

Is anyone surprised that all the information contained in this report has been marked top secret? So, do you now feel better and more certain that our clandestine services are performing in accordance with our Constitution? I have a question for you. When all of the hue and cry was going on about Hillary’s missing emails, why wasn’t the NSA’s files searched and a copy of those emails provided? We know they have them from what Edward Snowden brought to light and the NSA’s admissions in court. Yet…crickets.

Do you now wonder about the number of Republican congressmen that quietly retired before the 2020 elections? Reckon someone pointed out to them in private some of the information obtained by these Democrat sources that could be used against them by their opponents?

Out of time and space, so one last question to think about. If the clandestine services of the United States of America are continuing illegal searches of American citizens’ private information and America’s top law enforcement agency is working with them, do any of us enjoy the protections afforded us by the fourth amendment? Furthermore, is there a snowball’s chance in a very hot place that these agencies will come forward and voluntarily admit to wrong doing and promise to confine their actions to lawful ones in the future?

Until next week...     


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