Over the last week and a half American voices have made themselves heard. The loudest voices are seemingly shocked and disgusted at the level of hubris our federal government must have. For almost seven years they have been vacuuming up much of our most intimate correspondence in some misguided attempt to fight the War on Terror. While the loudest voices may be angry, polls seem to show that the majority of Americans are content with the news they’ve heard thus far – and that could be an even greater cause for alarm than the snooping scandal itself.
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 the Old Testament of the Bible, Hosea 4:6 begins, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” Granted, I have taken it completely out of context, but I feel the sentiment is accurate in this case. The American people have an utter lack of knowledge when it comes to understanding just what it is we are giving up when we allow the government this type of power. The 4th Amendment singles out a few specific items pertinent to the Founders, and one very broad item meant to give the government as little power as possible. “Persons, houses, papers” and “effects” – this means the government can’t touch you, can’t enter your home, can’t read your mail or diary or touch any of your other “effects” (your STUFF). In my humble opinion, if the government can’t open my mail – they shouldn’t be able to open my email either. Even if papers didn’t mean email, then “effects” most surely does.
Why am I so concerned that many of my fellow citizens seem content to give the government the leeway to seize and read, as they will? It gives precedence to a completely new way to change the law. No longer does the federal government need to amend the Constitution through the legislature; now it can just act secretly and illegally until it is discovered, at which point it cries, “But the War on Terror!”… and sends out a few politicians from each party to defend its actions.
If our “effects” can be taken from us as easily as this, then our liberty does not truly exist. If our “effects” can be recorded by the government and hidden away from us in some database, then we are prisoners of our own government, enslaved by our own words, chained to and by bureaucrats in Washington.
Hey, but at least we are safe from the terrorists.