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In the discussion thread: Obama placates Germany over NSA [View all]

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 03:03 AM

10. The Germans know first-hand how dangerous the kind of spying we are doing not only on foreign

leaders but on ourselves is. Some spying may be needed but we have gone far, far, far too far, and while some of Obama's changes in the system sound good, they are far, far, far too cautious.

We need a complete overhaul of all the domestic and foreign spying programs not only of the NSA but of all the agencies that conduct spying.

the big shock for me was when MSNBC presented a video of Hayden vehemently denying that "probable cause" is the standard the Constitution sets for the kind of search and seizure that the NSA conducts on us all the time. Here is the clip.


A person that ignorant of the text of the 4th Amendment certainly should not be in charge of a program that is capable of violating the 4th Amendment. He was not well enough versed on the constitution for his job.

Just in case there is any question about the 4th Amendment, here it is.

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.


In general, customs writs of assistance served as general search warrants that did not expire, allowing customs officials to search anywhere for smuggled goods without having to obtain a specific warrant. These writs became controversial when they were issued by courts in British America in the 1760s, especially the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Controversy over these general writs of assistance inspired the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which forbids general search warrants in the United States.

. . . .

General writs of assistance played an important role in the increasing tensions that led to the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America. In 1760, Great Britain began to enforce some of the provisions of the Navigation Acts by granting customs officers these writs. In New England, smuggling had become common. However, officers could not search a person's property without giving a reason. Colonists protested that the writs violated their rights as British subjects. The colonists had several problems with these writs. They were permanent and even transferable: the holder of a writ could assign it to another. Any place could be searched at the whim of the holder, and searchers were not responsible for any damage they caused. This put anyone who had such a writ above the law.

. . . .

In response to the much-hated general writs, several of the colonies included a particularity requirement for search warrants in their constitutions when they established independent governments in 1776; the phrase "particularity requirement" is the legal term of art used in contemporary cases to refer to an express requirement that the target of a search warrant must be "particularly" described in detail.[20] Several years later, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution also contained a particularity requirement that outlawed the use of writs of assistance (and all general search warrants) by the federal government.[21] Later, the Bill of Rights was incorporated against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment,[22] and writs of assistance were generally proscribed.


The British may be comfortable with the broad surveillance, but we Americans should not be. After all, we fought one revolution to narrow police investigations to warrants based on probable cause.

We should not allow our precious U.S. Constitution that was so hard-won in that revolution to be denied, reworded or simply ignored even by our must honored and trusted elected officials and military leaders. They should be better informed.

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