Federal Judge Appointed By Bush’s Father Declares NSA Program of Wiretapping Without Court Warrants Violates 1978 FISA Statute — But Ducks Broader Issue of Its Blatant Unconstitutionality Under the Fourth Amendment; Obama’s Refusal to End the Practice Is a Gross Dereliction of His Oath of Office to ‘Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution’
A federal judge in California has ruled that the Bush administration’s warrantless electronic surveillance program — which the Obama administration has continued — violates the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by not obtaining warrants from the special court established under the law. But Judge Vaughn Walker — ironically, an appointee of President George W. Bush’s father — did not rule on the broader issue of the program’s unconstitutionality under the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable government searches and seizures, which a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1972 includes electronic eavesdropping by the government without first obtaining court warrants. That President Obama has chosen to continue the warrantless surveillance, rather than comply with the Constitution he is bound by his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend,” is a disgrace for which he must be held accountable.
By SKEETER SANDERS
It’s been 14 months since the administration of President George W. Bush passed out of power, an administration that turned out to be the most authoritarian government in modern American history, marked by a wholesale and repeated disregard for the Constitution that its officers, from Bush on down, were bound by their oaths of office to “preserve, protect and defend.”
Implicit in that oath is also a binding obligation to obey the Constitution and respect the freedoms that the Constitution guarantees to all Americans.
Among the provisions of the Constitution that every government official, from the president on down, is bound to obey is the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits the government from conducting “unreasonable searches and seizures” on U.S. citizens.
Of course, the nation’s founders could not have possibly forseen in the 18th century the rise of electronic communications — let alone the government eavesdropping on the private telephone and Internet communications of Americans without first obtaining a warrant from a court of law — and doing so without probable cause, as the Constitution requires.
But if you thought that the transfer of power from the Bush administration to the Obama administration meant the end of the warrantless surveillance, think again.
The surveillance is still continuing — and incredibly, the Obama administration is insisting in the courts on maintaining the practice, despite clear and overwhelming evidence that it’s unconstitutional and defies the explicit will of Congress when it acted to enforce the Fourth Amendment with appropriate legislation.