Your 4th Amendment Rights were Just Violated

nsasecrets.jpgYou’d be a very rare American if the National Security Agency hasn’t collected your telephone call details without a search warrant. Homeland Stupidity has a good update on how the NSA is collecting data from the major telephone carriers. This includes the latest court challenge — which the government is trying to shut down on the grounds of protecting national secrets. Here’s the latest on what the Feds just learned about you without your permission:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting call traffic data for most telephones in the United States, without warrants, since shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to reports published Thursday.

USA TODAY reported that under secret agreements with AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, those companies turned over to NSA billions of call detail records of their subscribers, meaning the telephone number dialed and duration of the call. While the contents of the calls were not monitored, the records included purely domestic calls, originating and terminating within the United States.

Only Qwest refused to participate in the scheme, citing legal concerns.

The last time I checked, the Fourth Amendment still read:

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.

We might as well just throw the Constitution in the garbage; we weren’t using it anyway.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: The Libertarian Party is finally sounding like the alarmists we knew was always in them with a well-crafted press release that just hit their site and email:

“The fear of terrorism was used to create this database shortly after September 11th, just as it was used to pass the Patriot Act and ignore the rule of law with increased domestic spying,” stated Michael Dixon, chairman of the Libertarian Party. “However, our history proves that these programs will be abused regardless of the intended purpose. We witnessed this with the Clinton administration and its use of FBI files for political purposes. More recently, the Patriot Act has been used against business owners in Nevada rather than al-Qaeda.”

It’s refreshing to see them finally noticing that the sword cuts both ways and that they need to slice up current Republican and previous Democrat policies at the same time.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. Technically, they’re probably just in violation of a number of statutes, not the Fourth Amendment itself. See this post for a breakdown of the issues.

    Still, if you haven’t called your Congressman and Senators today, do it now.

  2. I wasn’t a big fan of Qwest until right now. From now on, I will do my damnedest to give Qwest all my business, because they’ll protect me from the Feds.

  3. China, people. Think China. That is the road we are going down. YOu have the freedom to use your credit card, to spend money, to do anything that benifits your corporate masters and the government they have bought off. But fuck all that other shit.

    Economic “Freedom” ( to spend ), but absolutly no political “freedom” allowed.

  4. “Technically, they’re probably just in violation of a number of statutes, not the Fourth Amendment.”

    that is exactly the problem. the reason it does not violate the fourth amendment is that the rhenquist court repealed the fourth amendment. hence, our rights now depend on the whims of legislators. in other words, we have no rights.

  5. Additionally, the Administration has asserted Article II authority to ignore the law, so this whole discussion is moot.

  6. The constitution doesn’t mean much anymore. There are always loopholes. I can only find one amendment of the bill of rights that is fully in effect in the way that the founders intended it:

    Amendment III
    No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    Other than that, you just have to hope the party in power agrees with you.

  7. Scott,

    I do know of an (almost) exception to your 3rd Amendment rule. Former Alabama LP gubernatorial candidate John Sophecleus had his house seized through eminent domain. He fought it all the way to the Supreme Court.

    After his house was seized, they stationed state paid highway workers to live in his house. While not exactly quartering troops, they did place government employees in his house against his will.

  8. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 2511Section 2703. Required disclosure of customer communications or records(c) Records Concerning Electronic Communication Service or Remote Computing Service. — (1) A governmental entity may require a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications) only when the government entity — (A) obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by a court with jurisdiction over the offense under investigation or equivalent State warrant; (B) obtains a court order for such disclosure under subsection (d) of this section;

  9. (C) has the consent of the subscriber or customer to such disclosure… (d) Requirements for Court Order. — A court order for disclosure under subsection (b) or (c) may be issued by any court that is a court of competent jurisdiction and shall issue only if the governmental entity offers specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of a wire or electronic communication, or the records of the information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation. In the case of a State governmental authority, such a court order shall not issue if prohibited by the law of such State. A court issuing an order pursuant to this section, on a motion made promptly by the service provider, may quash or modify such order, if the information or records requested are unusually voluminous in nature or compliance with such order otherwise would cause an undue burden on such provider.

  10. Hey wheeler, you cannot repeal the Bill of Rights. If you burn the Bill of Rights, I still have freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to protect myself, etc. I don’t care what “they” say – I won’t shut up and I won’t give up my guns – without a struggle. The real problem is enforcement of the Bill of Rights. It is We the People’s job to enforce the Bill of Rights BUT WE DON’T EVEN KNOW THEM! It’s an educational problem (or lack thereof). We let government get away with everything and just re-elect them in the fall.

  11. Torfinn, I will welcome them as well, if the alternative is toiling in their sugar caves!

  12. It’s time to stop doing business with AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. And let them know why you will no longer do business with them. I plan to cancel by Verizon Wireless account in July, as soon as my contract is up, and switch to Qwest or another provider that is more respectful of my rights.

    On another note, AT&T and Verizon are both pressuring Congress to allow them end Network Neutrality, which would change the Internet as we know it – for the worse.

  13. stuart

    I’m guessing that qwest didn’t see the profit in it. had the TLAs actually paid rent on the extra switchroom, they’d probably have bent over backwards

  14. Okay when is the LP going to begin calling for supporting the Bill of Rights and when the hell are we going to quit dropping our drawers and bending over for the bastards. This needs more than just a press release. Ron Crickenberger got the funds for a big anti drug war ad a few years ago in USA Today. How do we get something like that started for this?

  15. Your Great Decider has decided that the details of every call you will ever make will be recorded in a government database. And if you don’t like it I’m sure he will taunt you to “bring’em on!”

  16. Don’t think this kind of skullduggery will simply end with a Congressional/Senatorial empty-suit transfusion, or a presidential shift change. Especially the Hildabeast – she would LOVE to have this kind of power in her talons.

    It’s gonna take it getting really ugly, for things to change, and by then we’ll be as screwed as a hillbilly’s cousin at a family reunion.

  17. Late-night bleariness further reflection edit:

    Don’t forget the past sins of previous Prez’s: ECHELON, and the Clipper chip. Bush Version 2.0 just picked up the ball from the Clintons and from Bush Version 1.0, ran with it, spiked the ball in the end zone, and did the “fuck you” dance after.

  18. There’s apparently a Supreme Court decision that says call detail records such as this aren’t covered by the Fourth Amendment. I’m trying to track it down now.

    In the meantime, I have some personal knowledge of the operation of this program, from my days in telecom, which I’ve shared at Homeland Stupidity.

  19. Six degrees.

    Everybody knows someone who, etc….

    With me it’s a guy I used to be in a band with who is the cousin of a guy who spent 7 years in fed. pen for keeping books for that east coast biker gang, the Pagans.

    The cousin knew a guy in Jersey who supplied pot to the guy in Connecticut who also worked for the Pagans and ran most of the ho’s on the east coast.

    The guy who ran the ho’s knew a guy in Detroit who the Pagans used when they needed “some guy from out of town”.

    The “guy from out of town” knew another guy who had an “in” with a Canadian who smuggled Afgan smack that came thru LA on a freighter from Thailand.

    The Canadian knew a guy from Cleveland who went to college in Buffalo with my girlfriend.

    My girlfriend and I saw a John Prine concert not too long ago.

    Everybody knows John Prine is Un-American.

    Yeah, that’s eight degrees counting the girlfriend.

    Nine, if you count John Prine.

    Don’t worry.

    The NSA will keep track.

    The only thing about this little note that gives anybody any hope at all is that I won’t have access to computers at “The Camp”.

  20. There’s a difference – some may not think so – between our government (military or civilian) operating in our “best interest” beyond our borders during either peace or war and the government spying on its own citizens within our borders and without probable cause.

    Ooooh, and here I’m gonna get some flack:

    It’s about as Constitutional as “sobriety checkpoints”.

    Several similarities.

    Funny how the same people who hate one can put up with the other.