When Government Knows No Limitation: New DOJ Rules Allow More Intrusive Searches

I was once told by someone involved in a federal investigation not to let any identified federal law enforcement officer into your house without: a) a warrant and b) your lawyer present. At the time, this notion seemed a bit less than cooperative. Shouldn’t law-abiding citizens be able to live their lives free from the fear that our own government would underhandedly manipulate our rights in their pursuit of an investigation? After all, the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution enumerates a limitation on the federal government, one that prevents “unreasonable search and seizure.” Today, this enumerated protection is being ignored by – of all institutions – the U.S. Justice Department, under the darkened shadow of Attorney General Eric Holder.

A recent column by The Atlantic’s Emily Berman, a Furman Fellow and Brennan Center Fellow at NYU School of Law, informs the citizenry:

It just got easier for the federal government to collect information about innocent Americans — and those Americans have had surprisingly little say in the matter.

On October 15, the FBI reportedly implemented new rules that relax restrictions on, and oversight of, the FBI’s intelligence collection activities. Although they are not available to the public, reports indicate the changes permit FBI agents to search an individual’s trash with the goal of finding material that might pressure him into becoming a government informant, grant agents the authority to search commercial or law enforcement databases without first opening an investigation, and reduce the type of investigations subjected to heightened oversight because of their relationship to protected First Amendment expression, association, or religious practice.

This is the third modification of the FBI’s intelligence collection authorities since September 11, 2001. First in 2002, again in 2008, and finally, just last week, amendments were adopted with scant public attention and with minimal — if any — congressional involvement. Groups and communities concerned about the new rules’ impact on civil liberties, particularly the risk of religious or ethnic profiling, also had no constructive input.

Granted, heated debate continues over the PATRIOT Act, signed into law after the jihadist attacks of September 11, 2001. Debate is good. It helps all involved – citizenry, government and advocacy groups — to present cogent arguments in pursuit of protections for the US Constitution and the whole of the Charters of Freedom. But the PATRIOT Act, whether you agree with it or not, was the result of a direct enemy attack on our country and was drafted in pursuit of protection for our citizenry. While it may need to be refined, it is a completely different matter from the federal government usurping enumerated limitations on federal authority and protected rights to extract information from an American citizen who is not officially under investigation or to coerce an American citizen in matters not related to national security, and even then without due process.

The Fourth Amendment states quite clearing:

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.

It’s pretty straightforward; there is a procedure in place (due process) that the federal government must adhere to when engaging an American citizen in matters of law enforcement. To ignore – or usurp – this due process is to ignore the rule of law, which is the bedrock of our Constitutional Republic. To ignore due process, where an American citizen is concerned, is unconstitutional and criminal in nature.

If that weren’t enough, Eric Holder’s Justice Department is also acting to codify a longstanding policy that effectively validates lying to not only the American people but the judicial branch as well:

A longtime internal policy that allowed Justice Department officials to deny the existence of sensitive information could become the law of the land — in effect a license to lie — if a newly proposed rule becomes federal regulation in the coming weeks.

The proposed rule directs federal law enforcement agencies, after personnel have determined that documents are too delicate to be released, to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests ‘as if the excluded records did not exist.’

Justice Department officials say the practice has been in effect for decades, dating back to a 1987 memo from then-Attorney General Edwin Meese.

In that memo, and subsequent similar internal documents, Justice Department staffers were advised that they could reply to certain FOIA requests as if the documents had never been created. That policy never became part of the law — or even codified as a federal regulation — and it was recently challenged in court.

A final version of the proposal could be issued by the end of 2011. If approved, the new rule would officially become a federal regulation with the force of law.

All of this presents the question: Who does one call when the chief law enforcement officer when the federal department responsible for upholding justice ignores our rights and begins acting like Third World or Soviet-era intelligentsia?

From his refusal to protect the voting rights of every citizen, to the blatant, politically based, “social justice” racism executed by his department, along with his pursuit of the deliberate usurpation of the enumerated limitations placed on the federal government to protect the rights of the citizenry in both personal security and our right to know, Mr. Holder has not only been a disgrace to the American system of justice; he has effectively become an enemy to the US Constitution, the whole of the Charters of Freedom and the very ideas of blind justice and liberty.

If, for no other reason, Holder’s exit from the federal government will be one of the major benefits of the Obama Administration coming to an end. But for now, as I asked before, who do you call when 9-1-1 is the criminal?

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