What Is A Patriot - Edward Snowden & The Rule Of Law: Letter To The Editor

Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013, 9:22:00 AM

Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

Let me get this straight. We’re expected to support the troops, even

when we don’t agree with their mission, but we’re not allowed to expect

them or their leaders to uphold their oath. Their oath, after all, is

not to support the President, or military commanders, or party leaders

in the Senate or House, but to “perserve, protect, and defend the

Constitution of The United States.”

Now why bother with that? Why make everyone wishing to become a

citizen, join the military, or serve as a representative in our elected

bodies, and even (especially)  the Commander In Chief of our military,

our President, take an oath that makes protecting the Constitution their

first and foremost duty?

Those of us who haven’t been asked to answer that question lately

might forget that as citizens we bear the same responsibility of

preserving and protecting the Constitution and its Amendments, against

forces, ever prevalent, that would advance their power at the expense of

the public’s rights and liberties.

These forces may come as an external threat but more often, and more

insidious, they come through corruption of the very institutions of

power charged with our protection, couched in language that appears to

protect what they destroy.

Which brings me to Edward Snowden, now charged under the Espionage

Act. His violation? Informing the public that their rights guaranteed

under the Fourth Amendment are being consistently violated by the

government and its agencies.

To satisfy the terms of The Espionage Act, supporters of the

government’s prosecution must maintain Snowden acted out of ill will, as

an agent of a foreign power or one whose intention was to give comfort

to our enemies. There is no evidence of this. Rather, his expose’ was

aimed specifically at informing the American people, first and foremost,

that their rights are being consistently violated.  

The Fourth Amendment states: “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 palce to be searched, and the persons or

things to be seized.”

I’m trying to imagine what the government’s request to the FISA Court

for the present warrant, in order to satisfy the Fourth Amendment, must

have looked like: “All electronic data of every person on the planet,

from all the sources where such data is to be found, to have on hand in

case we feel like we need it, please.”

I find little comfort that the surveillance supposedly restricts

itself to data disclosed to third parties, and courts have ruled such

data is fair game for the government. Call me naive, but I find a

government that justifies such extensive surveillance more of a danger

to my life and liberty than disgruntled foreigners upset with our

foreign policy.

Of course these requests didn’t come all at once, but increased over

time, as with the creation of the secret Court itself. Even though

almost all requests are rubber-stamped by the FISA Court, one request

garnered an eighty page opinion, which concluded the current methods of

data collection described by Snowden are illegal and unconstitutional.

We can’t read that opinion. Even though it was reached by those on the public payroll. It’s classified.

Something tells me this is not what the framers had in mind. The

Fourth Amendment contention, “...shall not be violated...”  is

non-negotiable in its intention, and how the phrase is interpreted under

law.

The government, then, and by that I mean the President, the National

Security Agency, and their defenders in Congress (our own California

Senator Diane Feinstein among them), are in violation of their oath of

office, putting them effectively in breach of contract with the people

of the United States.

In acting to inform the public of an extensive breach of the Fourth

Amendment, Edward Snowden fulfilled his duty as a citizen to defend the

Constitution. The same duty our leaders conveniently misplaced.

Demonizing him for this is an attempt by the guilty to bury the misdeeds

his actions exposed to the light of day. It is our duty to make sure

their attempt fails.

Charles Fredricks

Santa Monica

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