What’s up with that Fourth Amendment thing anyway?

Quite a bit of hubbub and even a bit of pandemonium follows the revelation that millions of bits of phone information from American citizens are being gathered by the National Security Agency.

The noise from all stripes comes in the aftermath of a story published by The Guardian of London that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA, has allowed so-called “data mining” by the NSA on millions of Verizon Wireless customers. Read all about it here from The Guardian.

Folks like former Vice President and failed Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore call the information gathering “outrageous.” Read all about it here from The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, some top Democratic and Republican leaders defend the court order and the data collection. One might even read all about it here from the Yahoo! blog, The Ticket.

Now I know you didn’t pay to come here and read my opinion. In fact, you didn’t pay at all. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. But I will put my two cents in … oops, I don’t even have two cents. I’m lying about that but I don’t have much more than that. I could really use a donation. It’s more than a week until payday and I’m so broke I can’t pay attention. That’s partially because of Verizon Wireless. Now those bloodsuckers are giving up our phone information just because they got a measly top secret federal court telling them they got to do it.

In seriousness — not particularly in all seriousness because think of how much seriousness you would have with ALL seriousness — I am against the government in the data mining business overall. I don’t much like the existence of FISA, though if the feds are going to go all Orwell on us then we might as well have a hush-hush court. I can see a new afternoon TV series now: “Hush-Hush Court,” starring former Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Also starring Jeffrey Toobin and Nancy Grace. I mean, it could be a really good show but could also be as dry as a martini minus gin and vermouth.

Everyone in the U.S. seems to have their favorite amendment in the Bill of Rights. Although I am quite fond of the First and the Second being it is what it is to me at least, I am really quite partial to the Fourth Amendment: “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.”What could be more American than a person being secure in his and her persons, houses, papers and effects (and cars and trucks and a horse is a horse of course of course. But no one shall have intercourse with a horse of course.)

Say what? The problems is that the American gets all wobbly with their Fourth Amendment and preach on the mountain top about that sacred change to the U.S. Constitution only when they want it or need it. So this should be a time we need it. But let’s say someone were to read the actual court order that they may or may not find on The Guardian link, they might or might not find that bothersome probable cause thing. Sorry to be so cryptic but I am purposely being cryptic. You know, maybe try to get a role on the “Hush-Hush Court,” maybe as a bailiff or the court clerk.

I am not thrilled about what the NSA is doing, supposedly until July something or other. In fact, I am getting less and less thrilled about the whole she-bang as I write this. But perhaps we should “chill” as Slate’s William Saleton says. Should we? I just don’t know anymore, as someone somewhere said.

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