Rights Left Behind

Our slow, sure chipping away of the Fourth Amendment

If you’re confused as to why it took an army of hundreds of militarized police to catch one wacko 19-year-old, then you’re not alone. Even my conservative, NRA-member brother-in-law who lives near the events in Boston has been radicalized. The defenders of our security put hundreds of bullet holes through houses along the street, miraculously avoiding civilian casualties, while it took some guy going outside to have a smoke to find the kid. Making a mockery of the Fourth Amendment, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) invaded and searched people’s homes, then questioned the suspect for 16 hours without reading him his Miranda rights. Strangely compliant, people then cheer and wave the flag.

The original patriots would be appalled at this sad ending to a sad week in America. So would President Washington, who warned us about military takeover. So would President Eisenhower, who warned us about the military-industrial complex.

The Supreme Court says that government drones can spy on your property without warrant, and federal judge Colleen McMahon has ruled that American citizens can be executed by the executive branch of our government without a hearing or public justification. Now the DHS has asked Congress to expand drone use in the United States to ensure “public safety.”

Close to 5,000 people have already been killed by drones, a policy endorsed by President Barack (Nobel Peace Prize laureate) Obama, netting one terrorist for every 50 civilians. This occurs mostly in countries where we are not even at war, such as the latest terror bombing in Yemen. How can we not expect these misadventures abroad to harvest more bombings at home?

The week’s events coincided with CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Protection Act. Passed by the House, but blocked in the Senate for now, CISPA would allow wholesale harvesting of data from your phone calls and email for governmental and military use.

If you want to fly your flag at half-mast this week, fly it for the death of the Fourth and Fifth amendments of the Constitution of the United States—torpedoed by our own drones.

Pieter S. Myers is a printmaker living in Occidental.

Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].

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