Screw The Fourth Amendment!!

Source: Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution

(Emphasis mine.) Source: FindLaw

(Emphasis mine.) Source:
Shall we grease that slope even more?

What’s the debate?

Yes. We shall.

Perhaps the tree of Liberty is threatening to start to want refreshing. We’ll see how bad we let it get. There’s still time.

Ms. Wolfe’s not quite right, yet.

“America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”
–Claire Wolfe

I have to congratulate you for realizing that the slope was being greased prior to the USA PATRIOT Act. This shows an understanding far deeper than I’ve seen from many opponents of it or of some of its provisions and I thank you for it.

The particular objection you appear to have is to the administrative subpoena. I’ve been subject to it for years and it applies not only to records others keep about my business activities but to the records which I, myself, keep. It kind of chaps my ass a bit, but I have to admit that on balance the regulatory authorities have used their power almost entirely for good and not for ill so my objection is mostly a theoretical one as opposed to a practical one.

Like BrainGlutton, though, I have to admit that I’m a little unclear on exactly your position in a debate. Is it your contention that I and other employees of financial firms (and the firms themselves) should be relieved of administrative subpoenas? Or that, like with terrorism suspects, the administrative subpoena should only apply to records held by others? Or that the administrative subpoena power ought to be taken from individual agencies and consolidated with the Attorney General? Or that some form of administrative subpoena ought still to exist but that there should be some additional judicial oversight short of requiring a warrant?

I’m a little uncomfortable with some of the provisions of USA PATRIOT myself and I’m glad for a discussion with someone who doesn’t dismiss the entire thing out of hand as a stand-alone law as opposed to a continuation of a process.

I sense a distinction here. Your financial firm isn’t a person.

IANAL, and Lord knows I know little about the ins and outs of Fourth Amendment law. What is the scope of these administrative subpoenas, exactly? Although you don’t say it in so many words, I gather they don’t need the approval of a judge. Who/what could be subpoenaed by one of these, prior to the Patriot Act, and what was the legal justification?

If they could be used to subpoena businesses but not persons other than in their capacity of operatives of those businesses, then there is a clear distinction between the administrative subpoenas you refer to, and the powers of the Patriot Act.

The Fourth Amendment still applies to businesses and places of business. They don’t even have to be incorporated.

My concern is not addressed within the realm of typical SDMB debate and argument. Rather I’m looking at it from a typical non-Doper level of the teeming minions out there. I believe many with some level of constitutional knowlege and ordinary insight should be asking such questions as:

  1. What’s wrong with using an impartial judge to issue a warrant? It’s worked since the beginning of the republic, including when decisions need to be made rather quickly or the suspect (and/or the evidence) may disappear rather quickly. I don’t see terrorism issues being so different that an impartial judge is unable to render a decision on a warrant any differently. Or perhaps the administration doesn’t want that level of impartiality because much of the evidence will not hold up in court, if there ever will be a trial.

  2. We already have at least one court case in terrorism the administration has the upper hand (Zacarias Moussaoui) while in another case (Jose Padilla) the government appears on the ropes. In both case the government is playing more than fancy footwork with constitutional rights.

  3. The government already admits that USA Patriot Act is being used for other cases unrelated to terrorism. Granted, this is often an unintended fallout from some laws (remember RICO laws used against anti-abortionists?). So if terrorism is the hot ticket, why is the government announcing such non-terrorist uses of the Pactriot Act?

  4. We already have secret courts and secret warrants. Why? Sure, strike while the iron is hot but come on, people. Is government efficiency so good that leaks of warrants and hearings will get out to terrorists so fast that secret courts and secret warrants are needed? You mean the media is so good at reading every federal case report and publishing the details the next day that terrorists can sit back and watch our government via the Times or Washington Post?

  5. Even the government admits, “Critics say the law allows the government to target certain groups, but the Justice Department counters that no Patriot Act-related civil rights abuses have been proven.” I just love those last words. There is a marked difference is stating there are no abuses occurring as a result of the Patriot Act vs. none of the accusations have yet to be proven. Seems to me abuses are occurring; they just haven’t been proven.

The above average non-Doper will wonder why warrantless efforts of our government are justified, even in these trying times. The average non-Doper just doesn’t care. Is our government really out to get terrorists that our rights need to be stripped? Kinda like Vietnam, I guess. We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

OK, I stand corrected.

So what’s the deal, then, with these ‘administrative subpoenas’ that Manny implies don’t need the approval of a judge?

See Security Holes at DMVs Feed ID Theft, Offer Lessons for National ID Card Debate - Center for Democracy and Technology. And

I just wanted to chime in and say thanks for the quote from Ms. Wolfe, PX. To my mind it’s pretty apropos to the state of affairs here.

Here meaning in this country, obviously, not on the SDMB or in this thread.