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article imageOp-Ed: Should Obama be tried for treason after his NSA speech on Friday?

By Ralph Lopez     Jan 16, 2014 in Politics
Floating an administration source's trial balloon on just where Obama is trying to go on this NSA thing, the New York Times has divulged that Obama is seeking to declare the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution null and void once and for all.
The language of the amendment, which embodies the sentiment in Patriot speeches of the American Revolution that "a man's house is his castle," is beautifully crystalline in clarity as all the Founding Fathers' declarations were.
The Fourth Amendment guarantees:
"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 modern times, electronic communications such as emails and telephone calls have been held to be an extension of a person's "papers and effects," from a time when the only non-verbal communication was written letters, i.e. "papers."
This means, quite simply, that all private communications of private citizens are none of the government's damned business, unless it can show "probable cause" that they involve a crime, and the government can prove it to a judge. In the real world judges already tend to give wide latitude to police and prosecutors who are convinced they have "probable cause," a fairly low standard which might consist of a mere hunch based on the most circumstantial of evidence, like a man rooting around in a dumpster where, the day before, the cops found a cache of drugs.
What Barry will be saying is, naw, we don't need to bother with that stuff. We can just do whatever we want anyway.
We can tap that man's phones, poke through everyone he ever talked to in the past ten years, look over his shoulder while he is browsing the Internet, anything. We, the executive branch, we're the boss, see? And it's all for your own protection.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Obama will not:
"endorse leaving bulk data in the custody of telecommunications firms, nor will he require court permission for all so-called national security letters seeking business records."
"Endorse?" It is not up to the president to "endorse" anything in the Constitution. He is sworn by oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," since it was here before him. Since to not "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" is a betrayal of that oath, and one definition of "betrayal" is "treachery," Obama's anticipated declaration, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, amounts to treason:
TREACHERY
1: violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence : treason
2: an act of perfidy or treason
It is instructive that the oath of office required by the Constitution, before assuming office, makes no mention of defending the nation's borders, territories, or even people. The president is sworn to defend one thing and one thing only: " the Constitution of the United States" :
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
If the Founders felt so strongly that nothing should confuse the issue of what the president was, first and foremost, supposed to defend, then the words "United States" in the Treason Clause, Article Three Section 3 of the US Constitution, could reasonably be interpreted to include the Constitution. If the Constitution is not part of what defines "the United States," what is? The Treason Clause of the Constitution states:
"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort..."
Can you make war against a document? If not, then why would it need defending in the oath of office?
The feds maintain that sweeping up bulk data held by telecommunications firms, such as phone records, emails, and and browsing histories, does not violate the Fourth Amendment, because a "search" is not a "search" until they look at them. That is like saying, we will take every receipt, hospital record, prescription, and and old love letter in your big bottom drawer, but we promise not to look at them.
If they do look at them, you will never know, because Obama seems to see no need for a judge's role in all this either. New York Times:
"he [Obama] will not endorse leaving bulk data in the custody of telecommunications firms, nor will he require court permission for all so-called national security letters seeking business records."
One problem: It is not up to Obama to decide he requires court permission. It is the Constitution he is sworn to uphold which requires it.
Any bureaucrat with the security clearance to view NSA records can dig as deeply into your life as he or she wants to. At present, about 1.5 million people hold "top secret" security clearances. These of course will be the "Ins," while everyone else will be the "Outs."
Survivors of Stasi Germany, East Germany under the Stasi secret police, find it naive for Americans to think that the information won't be used against law-abiding citizens in unscrupulous ways. McClatchy in a 2013 article reported:
Schmidt, 73, who headed one of the more infamous departments in the infamous Stasi, called himself appalled. The dark side to gathering such a broad, seemingly untargeted, amount of information is obvious, he said.
“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”
Lest it be doubted that the government is more interested in the oppression of ordinary citizens than catching terrorists, let's remember that the NSA was doing everything it is doing now at the time of the Boston bombing. Obama just wants to make it all legal. According to the FBI, the suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was using the Internet to download bomb plans, and surfing and uploading jihadi videos.
Yet, despite even multiple warning flags put out over the suspects by Russian intelligence, the NSA did not disrupt the plot.
Nor is this the first time that Obama, and indeed Congress, have "levied war" upon the Constitution. This year may see the fourth renewal of the NDAA's (National Defense Authorization Act's) purported authorization for the US military to arrest and detain US citizens without charge or trial, forever, upon suspicion of being "associated" with terrorist activity. There is a nationwide backlash against the law, first signed by Obama in the dead of night on New Years Eve, December 2011. Cities, towns, and states have passed local legislation instructing local authorities not to cooperate with feds and military acting under this law.
The truth is, Obama cannot declare any part of the Constitution null and void. In fact, any law which flies in the face of the Constitution, that is, not just questionable but repugnant, is already null and void. One of the earliest major US Supreme Court decisions, Marbury v. Madison, held that any law passed by Congress which was "repugnant" to the Constitution was "void." Chief Justice Marshall wrote:
"a law repugnant to the constitution is void, and...courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument."
James Otis Jr.
James Otis Jr.
Wkimedia Commons
As sentiment for the American Revolution grew, one man, James Otis of Massachusetts, railed against one of the most hated of the kings prerogatives: the British General Warrant. The "warrant" was essentially a blank check for the king's agents to search through homes, belongings, letters and personal effects of any subject, at any time, for no reason. Otis thundered from his seat in the Massachusetts State House that such law made men the "servants of servants."
"What is this but to have the curse of Canaan with a witness on us: to be the servants of servants, the most despicable of God's creation?"
The discontent which led to the American Revolution was many years in the making. But in 1761 Otis gave a particularly fiery speech in which he pronounced "a man's house is his castle." John Adams, who observed the speech, later wrote: "the child independence was then and there born."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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