CIVIL LIBERTIES AFTER 9/11
Robert Bork addresses this topic in the latest issue of Commentary. His argument boils down to saying that there have been worse abuses from time-to-time in our history, operating within the constraints of the Constitution might mean some criminals go free, and that therefore the Republic will surive and everyone should quit their whining. This argument floors me.
For most of us, airport security checks are the only first-hand experience we have with countermeasures to terrorism, and their intrusiveness and often seeming pointlessness have, not surprisingly, led many people to question such measures in general. But minor vexations are not the same as an assault on fundamental liberties.
My response to this quote is another quote:
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.
A little thing I like to call the Fourth Amendment. So, yes, I find being searched at the airport by government drones, absent a warrant or any probable cause to be a violation of my most basic rights, not a mere vexation.
ACCORDING to civil libertarians, the constitutional safeguards that normally protect individuals suspected of criminal activity have been destroyed in the case of persons suspected of links with terrorism. This accusation reflects an ignorance both of the Constitution and of long-established limits on the criminal-justice system.
Prior to 1978, and dating back at least to World War II, attorneys general of the United States routinely authorized warrantless FBI surveillance, wire taps, and break-ins for national-security purposes. Such actions were taken pursuant to authority delegated by the President as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and as the officer principally responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs. The practice was justified because obtaining a warrant in each disparate case resulted in inconsistent standards and also posed unacceptable risks.
But, sadly, that pesky Fourth Amendment seems to call for getting a warrant in each and every case, disparate or no. A real pain, restraining the power of the state.
I shan’t continue. Go read the rest if you will.
I must say that I’m very disappointed with Bork. I very much thought he deserved to be confirmed to the Supreme Court back in 1986 and that he was railroaded. But for someone who considers himself a strict constructionist to be willing to go to this level in ignoring the plain language of the Constitution is simply baffling.