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.