by Diane Rufino, Deputy Director of the NC Tenth Amendment Center and Resolutions Chair of the Pitt County GOP. The following resolution will be presented at the 2014 Pitt County GOP Convention on March 8.
RESOLUTION DENOUNCING THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY’S (NSA) UNCONSTITUTIONAL SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM and CONFISCATION of PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE
Whereas, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides: “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.“; and
Whereas, Article I, Sect. 21 (“General Warrant”) of the constitution of the state of North Carolina provides: “General warrants, whereby any officer or other person may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of the act committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and shall not be granted.”
Whereas, these provisions, both federal and state, are grounded in the right of an individual to “retreat into his home” and thereby be free from government intrusion. A man’s home should be his castle.
Whereas, these provisions recognize that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their person, their home, their papers, their computers, etc so that the government cannot detain a person without probable cause nor seize his or her personal effects to examine them or to find any instance of wrongdoing after the fact. In other words, a person has the reasonable expectation to enjoy his or her privacy without the feeling that someone or government is watching over him. This is the very essence of freedom.
Whereas, each one of the first ten amendments (known as the Bill of Rights) holds a particularly significant LIMITATION on the function of the federal government, as proclaimed in its Preamble: “The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire to add further declaratory and restrictive clauses in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, to extend public confidence in the Government, and to best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”;
Whereas, the Fourth Amendment, as is every other amendment comprising the Bill of Rights, is meant to be a check on the government by the People and not a check on the people by the government; and
Whereas, the test for the Fourth Amendment is “reasonableness,” and it would seem that an amendment that protects the People should have that term defined by the People (and not the federal government). The people, therefore, must be heard.
Whereas, the secret surveillance program called PRISM targets, among other things, the communications of U.S. citizens on a vast scale and monitors searching habits of virtually every American on the internet; and
Whereas, This dragnet program is, as far as we know, the largest surveillance effort ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens, consisting of the mass acquisition of Americans’ call details encompassing all wireless and landline subscribers of the country’s three largest phone companies; and
Whereas, every time an American citizen makes a phone call, the NSA gets a record of the location, the number called, the time of the call and the length of the conversation; all of which are an invasion into the personal lives of American citizens that violates the protections of the Fourth Amendment; and
Whereas, the NSA monitors the phone records of billions of Americans each month and has already confiscated millions of such records; and
Whereas, unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society; this program represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association, the exercise of free speech and expression, the right to privacy, and the pursuit of happiness; and
Whereas, this program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act since the Patriot Act was passed as a response to the horrific events of 9/11 and classified those persons or communications which can be targeted for surveillance by the government (NSA) as those “relating to terrorism”; and
Whereas, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wi), an author of the Patriot Act and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee at the time Section 215 was passed (“Access to Records and Other Items Under FISA”; aka, “the Surveillance Program) called Section 215 surveillance program “an abuse of that law,” writing that, “based on the scope of the released order, both the administration and the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court are relying on an unbounded interpretation of the act that Congress never intended.”
The Pitt County GOP denounces government policies that takes God out of schools, God out of society, morality out of the legislative process, conscience out of the bedroom, and accountability out of personal conduct, and also turns its back on border control and the infiltration of individuals that mean us and our country harm while at the same time creating safe havens and sanctuaries by embracing political correctness, and then has the audacity to use the consequences of such policies as the basis for increased government control, regulation, and surveillance. A free people should not have to live under the threat that at any time we are breaking one federal law or another or sending“red flags” (whatever they may be defined to be) to the government.
he Pitt County GOP denounces government policy that takes God out of schools, God out of society, morality out of the legislative process, conscience out of the bedroom, and accountability out of personal conduct, and also turns its back on border control and the infiltration of individuals that mean us and our country harm while at the same time creating safe havens and sanctuaries by embracing political correctness, and then has the audacity to infer that we’re not “good enough” so that the government can spy on us all, take away our gun rights, and keep us living under the threat that at any time we are breaking one law or another;
Therefore, let it be Resolved that –
The Pitt County GOP acknowledges that American citizens, whom the government has pledged to protect from terrorist activities, now find themselves the victims of the very weapon designed to uproot their enemies.
Be it Further Resolved, that the Pitt County GOP encourages Republican lawmakers to enact legislation to amend Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the State Secrets Privilege (SSP – which is a common law privilege originating in England that of course was embraced by the Supreme Court in 1953 that allows the head of an executive department to REFUSE to produce evidence in a court case on the grounds that the evidence is secret information that would harm national security or foreign relation interests if disclosed), and the FISA Amendments Act to make it clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity, phone records and correspondence – electronic, physical, and otherwise – of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by an express constitutional prohibition (the Fourth Amendment) law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court.
Be it Further Resolved, that the Pitt County GOP encourages Republican law makers to call for a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of the NSA’s domestic spying and the committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance as well as hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.
Be it Further Resolved, that the Pitt County GOP calls upon Republican lawmakers to immediately take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s data collection programs.
Be it Further Resolved that the Pitt County GOP stands firm in its position that Americans should NOT have to tolerate Big Brother watching over them. The hallmark of American society is individual freedom. This country fought for their independence from England because through its laws and scheme of control, it made the exercise of their freedom nearly impossible and made their lives intolerable. We have to recognize that our current government is heading in the same direction.