The Eric Holder Justice Department is arguing in court for a totalitarian government that can spit on the Fourth Amendment.
Here is the text of the Fourth Amendment:
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.
So Eric Holder’s Department of Justice (so-called) is now arguing in court, that the government can secretly vandalize your property, pretend to be repairmen, and then use their access to your property—which they gained through a criminal destruction of property and deception—to search your “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” And all of this is warrantless. They can then use anything they find as the basis for a warrant. (For all I know their argument would actually say you can skip the warrant and use what they found as the basis for pressing charges.
I suppose the government might insist that disrupting utilities that you have paid and contracted for, so that you think you need a repairman, doesn’t count as vandalism. That is a poor argument.
Federal agents, as NPR reports, disrupted the internet service of a rented villa in order to make the tenants believe they needed repairmen to come and fix it. Then they posed as the needed repairmen and used the access they gained to “just look around and see what we see.”
Defense lawyer Goldstein contends that not only was the search illegal, but the government knew it was and tried to cover it up. He contends that the materials submitted to a federal magistrate judge in seeking a warrant later carefully eliminated all indications that the federal agents had themselves cut the Internet line so that the villa occupants would ask for repairmen to come to the villa to fix the problem.
“They just managed not to tell the magistrate what it is they had actually done,” says Goldstein.
Indeed, Goldstein notes that he and his clients never would have known that it was the FBI agents who cut the line were it not for one slip of the tongue that the agents made — recorded on tape — when talking among themselves. He adds that when the defense asked for further recordings, the FBI provided two blank CDs, claiming the recording devices malfunctioned.
“There’s no real way of looking at this other than to say that it is a cover-up,” contends Goldstein.
Cover-up or not, the legal theory used here by the Justice Department and the FBI would change the legal rules of the road dramatically if adopted by the courts.
“The theory behind this search is scary,” says George Washington University law professor Stephen Saltzburg, author of a leading criminal law text. “It means the government can cut off your service, intentionally, and then pretend to be a repair person, and then while they’re there, they spend extra time searching your house. It is scary beyond belief.”
And it’s not just Internet service that could be cut off. Cable TV lines, plumbing or water lines — the list in the modern world is a long one.
The Justice Department won’t explain itself to the media so that it can seem fresh and new when it makes up garbage in court to attack the Fourth Amendment. Given the idiocy of claiming the government can look at emails because they are held by third parties—email service providers—I suspect they are going to claim that all the utilities you have paid for are all fair game. They can stop your water to make you call a plumber.
[See also, “Celebrity Hacker Gets 10 Years For Doing NSA, TSA Routine Crimes.”]
These are criminal assaults. When I disrupt services to your house that you have contracted and paid for, I am engaged in a criminal act of aggression. The police, whether state or Federal, have no business attacking innocent parties in this way.
Reflect on the fact that the Feds tried to hide what they had done before they got caught, turned shameless, and claimed the right to be criminals. If one agent hadn’t slipped on tape, the victims would have never known what the Feds had done.
What this indicates to me is that this criminal act, that ought to send cops to jail for criminal trespass, vandalism, and fraud—is quite probably business as usual. They have been doing this trick as standard operating procedure.
Yo, Liberals! Will this be enough to get you to think differently about Eric Holder?