Constitution trumps laws with probable cause clause

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Charles Akin asserts (in “NSA has not broken law to collect controversial data” Aug. 13) that NSA surveillance of the private emails and phone records of U.S. citizens is legal because the Patriot Act says so.  The real issue is whether or not the Patriot Act itself truly is constitutional regardless of congressional bipartisan support.  The Fourth Amendment reads:

“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.”

As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the amendment that excludes the requirement of a warrant issued upon probable cause. That the FISA court has granted an exception in cases related to the so-called war on terror is irrelevant since that court has never once rejected, out of thousands of requests, a government surveillance order.  In other words, this court, essentially hand picked by ultra right wing Chief Justice John Roberts, is no more than a rubber stamp for those in power who would turn the U.S. into a totalitarian surveillance state.

Perhaps Mr. Akin needs to be reminded that everything Adolph Hitler did in Germany, including the annihilation of millions of Jews, Communists, gypsies and others, was legal under German law as well, at least until the victorious Allies saw differently and put the perpetrators on trial for crimes against humanity.

Steven A. Roman
San Antonio de Belén
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