Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat—The Party of Freedom (Government freedom, that is)—has forgotten the following words:
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.
Or perhaps he never knew them. They arise, after all, from the United States Constitution, the document which at one time specified the limitations of the government, but which now is interpreted as detailing the limitations of the government’s charges, i.e., we the people.
CNET is reporting that Leahy, “the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee”, has written a bill which “authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail” and other on-line information, such as “Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages.”
A highlight, “Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered ‘to the public,’ including university networks.” Another: “Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim ’emergency’ situations exist.”
The Freedom of Information bill, which is the Orwellian name I suggest, would allow certain government agencies to “gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.” Which agencies? Why, independent regulatory agencies, of course. Here is a complete list of government entities which are considered “independent regulatory agencies.”
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission
- Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
- Federal Housing Finance Agency
- Federal Maritime Commission
- Federal Trade Commission
- Interstate Commerce Commission
- Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission
- National Labor Relations Board
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
- Postal Regulatory Commission
- Securities and Exchange Commission
- Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection
- Office of Financial Research
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
- Any other similar agency designated by statute as a Federal independent regulatory agency or commission
Your first reaction, if you are not a if-the-Democrats-proposed-it-it-must-be-good partisan, New York Times journalist, academic, or insane person, is naturally Why The Hell Are There So Many Government Commissions? Not on this list, but why do they exist at all?
Your second reaction is to note the area which I helpfully printed in bold. Any other agency. Such as (CNET tells us) the “FBI and Homeland Security.” Yes, any agency of our federal government would be able to, without a warrant and without just cause, access your personal information. Why? For the good of the People.
For your good. That’s why they’re doing it. It’s for your own protection. They know what’s best.
Now, if word gets out about this (we can only call it a) usurpation, it’s not likely to remain in it’s current form. CNET reports several large tech companies are aghast, especially those selling “cloud” services. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc. which are big Democrat donors. So there is a good chance this bill will be quashed.
What should have you astonished is that this bill was proposed at all. There is no competent reading of the Fourth Amendment which would allow private mail viewable to bureaucrats without a warrant and without just cause. Leahy’s version is therefore incompetent. It is a more than a dereliction of duty, it is an affront. An assault, even, on sense, on the rule of law, on true freedom.
We have seen these words below many times, but the foolish individuals we have sent in our names to Washington could stand to hear them again—again. Take it away, Ben.
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. — Benjamin Franklin
Write your Congressman and Senators today.
Update See comments below for words about Republicans.