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.
It's one of those news items that's been out there on the Web since February, In fact the ACLU has been talking about it since 2008, but I had to hear it from someone in another country. It's a situation I haven't heard on The Situation Room or even on the blogs I read and yet it's the sort of thing one would have expected to arouse paranoia and rebellious rhetoric amongst the people who obsess about the Government taking away our freedom and our guns and our privacy. Actually it seems to entail the government taking away what it damn well pleases for any reason it can think up -- and even for no reason at all. Worst of all, and unlike your run-of-the-mill Chicken Little fantasies -- it's real.
The DHS has worried me since its inception and when national security became homeland security my innate suspicions were aroused. I still think I was justified. Yes, there have been exceptions to the 4th amendment proscriptions against searches and seizures of property since the beginning and many are there to allow customs enforcement, but now it seems our borders have by fiat, been arbitrarily moved 100 miles inland and nearly 200 million Americans -- almost 2/3 of the population can, without probable cause and without a warrant or reasonable suspicion and at the whim of law enforcement be stopped, required to prove citizenship, searched, papers and effects rummaged through and have property seized, and you sir -- you can't do a damned thing about it. The majority of the US population now lives in a 4th amendment free zone says the ACLU.
I and everyone else living in Florida for instance, which is all within 100 miles of the border, can have our computers and smartphones confiscated and contents downloaded and examined in the name of Homeland security. No warrant, no pardon me, no apology. There's a war on, you know and there always will be. So much for being secure in our papers, effects and persons.
We can be patted down for looking like someone who might possess the wrong kind of cigarettes -- or in other words black or Hispanic -- or just young. And all your papers, documents, pictures, private correspondence, political opinions, records, music, love letters and secret formulas for barbeque sauce can and will be violated, unreasonably searched, downloaded and seized in the name of Homeland safety and security. For the most part, it's all based on precedent and as with the run up to the total collapse of the legitimacy of government we experienced in 1930's Germany, they've always got a good and convincing reason.
The insistence on freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures as a fundamental right gained expression in the Colonies before the Revolution based on experiences such as that of John Wilkes. We've forgotten it. We've been so conditioned to fear by polemicists on both sides of the governmental aisle, by think tanks, propagandists, do-gooders, evil doers, fear mongers and greedy, power hungry bastards that authoritarianism and its false promises of safety have taken us full circle. Yes, there have been great strides made in some aspects of personal liberty with respect to minority rights, women's rights and religious freedom, but perhaps that success has blinded us to the non-monetary costs of our perpetual wars and pseudo-wars.
As George Bush said in 2001, we're going to have to give up some of our civil rights and so we have and little has been done since to reverse that trend. We are not secure in our homes and persons and effects and papers because someone blew up some buildings a dozen years ago. We are not because we have a war on drugs that defies reason and erodes freedom. We've become a prison state where we can detain, imprison without charge, torture, kidnap and kill without due process, where nearly every quotidian government document is classified and the telling of the truth is treason and as long as they can keep us riled up about taxes and fictitious attacks on religion and trumped up dangers we just don't care because we're cowards and encouraged to be cowards for whom freedom is secondary.