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H.R. 6304 is a bill being pushed so fast that it hasn’t even shown up on Thomas yet for the public to read. Should it pass the House of Representatives tomorrow as scheduled, Americans will be stripped of the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of warrantless searches and seizures. Don’t let the authoritarians in Washington, DC distract you with some kind of claim that this is about protecting citizens by watching foreigners with funny names like Ahmed and Abdul; H.R. 6304 specifically authorizes the U.S. government to spy on American citizens with out a warrant too. All the government will have to do to is 1) Go ahead and do it, 2) file a piece of paper not asking permission but just telling a judge it has done so. As long as it 3) says — not proves, just says — that the information has to do with public safety, it can go ahead and spy on American citizens without a warrant and use any information without any authorization or even post-hoc requirement that the information be deleted. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, read H.R. 6304 for yourself. Read pages 44-46 especially closely. (Thank you to the Electronic Freedom Foundation for finding and posting a copy of the text to the web. This is a mirror of that file.)
You think this is just about intercepting phone calls? No, it’s not. It’s about physical searches, too. Read pages 73-77 of H.R. 6304. Come on, do it. Those pages say that a presidential administration can, without a warrant or even the prior approval of a FISA judge, engage in any physical search whatsoever so long as 1) later on, the administration files a piece of paper not asking permission but just telling a judge it has done so. As long as it 2) says — not proves, just says — that the information has to do with public safety, it can go ahead and engage in ANY physical search, ANYWHERE, WHENEVER it wants — then use the information as it sees fit, even if some judge later on says that the search was unjustified. Because under H.R. 6304, who ultimately determines whether a presidential administration’s warrantless surveillance was necessary? Yes, that’s right folks, the presidential administration itself. Page 77. Read it.
Unlimited electronic surveillance and physical searches by the American government everywhere on the planet, including right here at home — and all the American government has to do is tell a judge after the fact, without proof and without recourse that it was necessary for national security. All in a secret room with words your lowly citizen ears will never hear, because of course this is all to be confidential.
Just trust the government and let it do whatever it wants. Is THAT American?
Do you trust your government? You shouldn’t, because you know and I know that the government has screwed people over in the past. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. H.R. 6304 if passed will grant the President of the United States absolute power, and that should never be permitted in the United States of America. You should demand that someone be looking over the executive’s shoulder. And that’s what the 4th Amendment to the Constitution is all about:
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.
H.R. 6304 violates the letter and the spirit of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If you care about this country, if you care about freedom, stop eating your potato chips, look up the phone number of your member of Congress and place a call today. Right now.
I know, you just heard about it. I understand — I just heard about it too. They’re trying to pull a fast one on us. Tomorrow it will be too late.