One nation under surveillance could fittingly be the new motto of the United States circa 2014. Not only have numerous revelations over the past year and a half revealed the stunning degree to which the NSA has been spying on law-abiding Americans – all ostensibly to “keep us safe” but there has been much bleeding over into other big government agencies as well. Americans who surrendered their civil liberties with nary a whimper after the 9/11 attacks should be shocked at how the government has gone on to use those acts of terrorism as an excuse to expand its own powers exponentially.
The latest outrage comes courtesy of a story reported by The Wall Street Journal entitled “Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program” . The piece details how the Department of Justice is gathering up data from the mobile phones of Americans using small airplanes equipped with special equipment. This is the same D.O.J. that has been presided over for the past six years by Barack Obama’s ruthless henchman Eric Holder and has set new standards in the abuse of state power. I except the following from the WSJ piece:
The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.
The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.
People with knowledge of the program wouldn’t discuss the frequency or duration of such flights, but said they take place on a regular basis.
A Justice Department official would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a program. The official said discussion of such matters would allow criminal suspects or foreign powers to determine U.S. surveillance capabilities. Justice Department agencies comply with federal law, including by seeking court approval, the official said.
The program is yet another gross violation of the U.S. Constitution in that it like those utilized by the NSA Stasi is effectively conducting warrantless searches. The Fourth Amendment very clearly states that:
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.
An army of legal weasels within the government has been furiously working for years to decouple the government from the Constitution and the American bedrock principles espoused within it and have had a stunning degree of success. The Founding Fathers certainly could never have envisioned the dystopian nightmare of the high-tech surveillance state is it exists today but they understood the nature of kings and despots and based their document on solid defenses of individuals from their abuses of power. Whether it be King George’s redcoats ransacking homes in door to door searches or Eric Holder’s Justice Department flying surveillance planes over their homes in the 21st century it is one and the same.
The greatest problem that we face today – an existential crisis – is how much is enough power to vest in an increasingly out of control and unaccountable government. While it is the responsibility of that government to keep Americans safe it will matter nothing if the Constitution has been gutted for we will then live in a totalitarian society.
We are well on the way there now unless a very serious intervention is undertaken and done soon.