Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wiretaps, Searches, and the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act

The following was written in April 2014, as part of a response to the Campaign for Liberty's 2012 survey questionnaire for candidates running for federal office.

15. Will you oppose federal power grabs like roving wiretaps and warrantless searches, and oppose PATRIOT Act renewal that includes such items?

     Yes, I will oppose roving wiretaps and warrantless searches by the federal government; and vote to repeal the PATRIOT Act, to oppose its renewal and similar legislation.
     I will criticize the PATRIOT Act on the basis of its lacking both constitutionality and transparency. Given the short duration of time which members of Congress were given to read and consider the bill, the stipulation that only those members who voted for the bill would be permitted to participate in its subsequent amendment, and the fragmented manner in which the bill was constructed – as well as the content of the bill itself - I see no reason to support the act or its renewal.
     I believe that unless danger is imminent and reasonable suspicion of violent crime is present, a wiretap or search is not permissible unless and until a judge has signed a warrant issuing authorization for such an action. Federal agents must not write their own search warrants and enter and occupy people's homes without either permission of the homeowner or a warrant signed by a judge, as did the agents of King George III during the American Revolutionary War.
     Contrary to the attitudes of supporters of the PATRIOT Act, the need to protect our 5th Amendment liberties should never be superseded by the need of law enforcement agencies to gather information quickly and efficiently, nor by the need of judges who sign such warrants to get a full eight hours of sleep at night.
     I will sponsor legislation to augment the protection of the civil liberties enumerated in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments, strictly prohibiting government surveillance without cause, as well as all illegal activities of the National Security Agency's programs, in particular the PRISM data collection program.
     I will also urge states and local governments to legalize the filming of police officers and all elected and appointed public officials, and I will support increased congressional oversight of the Continuity of Operations Plan, in order to prevent the suspension of the Constitution and basic civil liberties in the event of a State of National Emergency. Additionally, I will support review and revision of which agencies the U.S. considers terrorist groups hostile to our country, in order to ensure sufficient domestic homeland security absent the politicizing effects of our military and trade policies towards other nations.

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