November 21, 2012—————————by Fred Kelly Grant
“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”—-
The United States Constitution, Amendment Four
General David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell had rights to security of themselves, their papers and effects that were violated by an FBI agent with a personal axe to grind. The Fourth Amendment was tossed into the wind on a whim.
No matter how one feels about the personal-sexual affair that was exposed and admitted, surely we all must be more offended by the broader scandal evidenced by the abuse of the Fourth Amendment. Without a warrant, without probable cause of any kind, a single FBI agent penetrated the Fourth Amendment wall surrounding Broadwell’s personal communications via e-mail. The unlawful penetration was accomplished by an agent responding to a personal grievance by a mere individual citizen, Jill Kelley. The agent no doubt wanted to curry Kelley’s favor; after all, he had sent her a shirtless photo of himself.
In order to further Kelley’s personal interests and therefore, his own, this agent used the power of his position to penetrate Broadwell’s security. Then, that breach led, without probable cause and a warrant, to breach of General Petraeus’ e-mails. At this point, there is no telling how far reaching was this breach of privacy and security—-all without a warrant and to serve a United States agent’s personal interests in a woman.
What a state we have come to in this 223rd year of our Republic. Every FBI agent swears to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Every official appointed and elected to represent the people takes the same oath. FBI agents therefore commit to protect individual and personal rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
We have come to a state where the oath is meaningless. None of us are secure in our persons, papers or effects when a single agent for personal purposes can invade personal communications without a warrant.
That to me is the focus that should now be put on the Petraeus story. Nevermind that a national personality who has served us well in the military has been victimized. You and I can be victimized in the same way.
Nevermind that an FBI agent curried favor of a lady to whom he had sent a photo obviously designed for sensuous purposes. Where was the protection that should have been in place above him in the FBI? Where was the protection that should have been in place with those who provided him the information that allowed his unlawful intrusion?
During the past two weeks, we have seen the fall out from one of the most egregious violations of the Fourth Amendment that I have ever witnessed in my seven plus decades of life. Libertarians and civil rights enthusiasts of all political and social leanings should be enraged—they should be standing side by side in an effort to force our Congress and our President to ensure that federal agents paid by our tax dollars observe and obey the Constitution they all swore to protect and defend.
We need no new laws to accomplish this objective! In fact, God help us if Congress tries to “protect” us as it did in passing the so-called “Patriot Act”, which in fact is a violation of the Constitution in so many ways. The President simply has to issue an Executive Order that anyone violating the Fourth Amendment or any other provision of the Constitution will be fired, along with his supervisors all the way up to the Cabinet member overseeing the Department. The Congress needs only to oversee that this is done, holding up all budgets until the Executive Order is issued. Then, the Congress needs only to hold up approving an appropriation to any Department that is shown through Congressional oversight to have violated the Executive Order.
It is that simple. But just watch! When the issue comes to the floor of Congress it will become controverted and confused in a discussion of protection against terrorism, white collar crimes, narcotics conspiracies, syndicate murders, and every other form of “scare tactic” that the enforcement agencies and their sheep in Congress can muster. Our freedom, guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, will pale into insignificance in the discussion. The fact that each person in the discussion swore to uphold, to protect and defend that Amendment will be ignored. All will fail to protect our rights in the name of and under color of “protecting” us from terrorists and criminals.
And, forgotten and swept under the rug will be the criminal acts of a shirtless FBI agent playing up to a woman who used her charm to gain status with VIPs and who was grieved by a competitor for status.
How we have changed as a Nation in 223 years, just a blink of an eye in God’s time. How ashamed of us would be the Founders who placed their lives, their possessions, their sacred honor on the line for us. How ashamed of us would be all the men and women who have given their lives and bodies in battle in the name of protecting and defending the Constitution.
The Founders who drafted the Constitution, and who sat in the legislatures that ratified the Constitution and the first Ten Amendments, were determined to free themselves and us from officious and overbearing government interference with their and our lives. One of the real problems the Founders addressed was the warrantless search and seizure process to which colonials had been subjected. English troops and officials had routinely entered homes and privately owned ships and warehouses to search for and seize firearms, goods that may have come into the country without payment of tariffs, and papers evidencing sedition.
Our Founders resisted English override of the rights they claimed dating back to the Magna Carta forced on King John in 1249. The open, candid reason for the movement that resulted in the Revolutionary War and Independence was that England had broken faith with the personal, individual rights guaranteed to English citizens.
Following adoption of the Constitution in Philadelphia, the legislatures of the States added the Bill of Rights, including the Fourth Amendment that protects “persons, houses, papers and effects.” It was and is an amendment guaranteeing security of personal and individual rights, not just security of the home. “Effects” is a term of common usage today and in 1789: “personal belongings” (Oxford dictionary).
The Amendment states specifically, not in general terms, that “the right to be secure” in their persons, houses, papers and effects shall not be violated. The word “secure” is again, a word of common usage both in 1789 and today: The Oxford dictionary defines the term as “certain to remain safe and unthreatened”, “feeling confident and free from fear or anxiety”, and as a verb “protect against threats; make safe.” Oxford’s scholars trace the term back to the mid 16th century, its use coming from “the sense of feeling no apprehension” and originating in the “Latin securus, from se-‘without’ + cura-‘care’” (See on line “Oxford Dictionaries, definition of “secure”).
Broadwell’s security, her right to feel no apprehension, her right to remain safe and unthreatened, in her intimately personal communications—not to the world, but to one man—was clearly violated. So was the same right of General Patraeus. So were the rights of every person to whom the two sent emails and from whom they received emails—-not just about their personal and intimate lives but on all subjects.
The identity of the FBI agent should become a name known in every household in America; the identity of his supervisor and of every person in the chain of command who reviewed these emails and did not immediately suspend or fire the violating agent should be made public NOW. And disciplinary action should be taken.
No rational person in this Nation can believe that a warrantless search and perusal of a person’s electronic communications to another person or group of persons is permissible in light of the specific language of the Constitution! I truly believe that defense of the shirtless FBI’s agent violation of security can be made only by a bureaucrat, an overzealous enforcement agency, the Congress, or activist courts that try to explain away our Constitutional rights for the “good of the whole”.
No libertarian, no civil rights supporter, in fact no Tea Party member true to the message he or she delivers, should stand still for such obvious and blatant violation of the security of Paula Broadwell, General David Petraeus, and others involved in the sordid web.
Next could be you. All it takes, it seems, is an agent of the government that has a personal grievance against you—-or an agent that has a personal interest in any man or woman who has a personal grievance against you. Scary? I say it is scandalous!!
Every one of us should demand of our representatives in Congress that oversight and budget actions be taken to assure that there is accountability by the agent, and the Department for this violation of civil rights!!
I do hope that Broadwell will file a Civil Rights Act violation civil action against the agent and the Department. As shown by the case and jury verdict against FBI agents in Chicago many years ago, the “law” will not tolerate these violations if the citizen has the intestinal fortitude to pursue remedy. With what Broadwelll has already suffered, what has she to lose by filing and pursuing the action.
The person who also has such right, in my opinion, is Mrs. Patraeus who has been dragged into public embarrassment through absolutely no fault of her own. My guess is that her emails too were read and reviewed. If so, I hope against hope that she will file such a Civil Rights Act violation civil suit.
But, in the meantime, we MUST DEFEND OURSELVES.