Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

The dust-up between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul over presidential fidelity to the Constitution -- particularly the Fourth Amendment -- was the most illuminating two minutes of the Republican debate last week.

It is a well-regarded historical truism that the Fourth Amendment was written by victims of government snooping, the 1770s version. The Framers wrote it to assure that the new federal government could never do to Americans what the king had done to the colonists.

What did the king do? He dispatched British agents and soldiers into the colonists’ homes and businesses ostensibly looking for proof of payment of the king’s taxes and armed with general warrants issued by a secret court in London.

A general warrant did not name the person or place that was the target of the warrant, nor did it require the government to show any suspicion or evidence in order to obtain it. The government merely told the secret court it needed the warrant -- the standard was “governmental need” -- and the court issued it. General warrants authorized the bearer to search wherever he wished and to seize whatever he found.

The Fourth Amendment requires the government to present to a judge evidence of wrongdoing on the part of a specific target of the warrant, and it requires that the warrant specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized. The whole purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to protect the right to be left alone -- privacy -- by preventing general warrants.

The evidence of wrongdoing that the government must present in order to persuade a judge to sign a warrant must constitute probable cause. Probable cause is a level of evidence sufficient to induce a neutral judge to conclude that it is more likely than not that the government will find what it is looking for in the place it wants to search, and that what it is looking for will be evidence of criminal behavior.

But the government has given itself the power to cut constitutional corners. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Patriot Act and the Freedom Act totally disregard the Fourth Amendment by dispensing with the probable cause requirement and substituting instead -- incredibly -- the old British governmental need standard.

Hence, under any of the above federal laws, none of which is constitutional, the NSA can read whatever emails, listen to whatever phone calls in real time, and capture whatever text messages, monthly bank statements, credit card bills, legal or medical records it wishes merely by telling a secret court in Washington, D.C., that it needs them.

And the government gets this data by area codes or zip codes, or by telecom or computer server customer lists, not by naming a person or place about whom or which it is suspicious.

These federal acts not only violate the Fourth Amendment, they not only bring back a system the Founders and the Framers hated, rejected and fought a war to be rid of, they not only are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, but they produce information overload by getting all the data they can about everyone. Stated differently, under the present search-them-all regime, the bad guys can get through because the feds have more data than they can analyze, thus diluting their ability to focus on the bad guys.

Among the current presidential candidates, only Paul has expressed an understanding of this and has advocated for fidelity to the Constitution. He wants the government to follow the Fourth Amendment it has sworn to uphold. He is not against all spying, just against spying on all of us. He wants the feds to get a warrant based on probable cause before spying on anyone, because that’s what the Constitution requires. The remaining presidential candidates -- the Republicans and Hillary Clinton -- prefer the unconstitutional governmental need standard, as does President Obama.

But Christie advocated an approach more radical than the president’s when he argued with Paul during the debate last week. He actually said that in order to acquire probable cause, the feds need to listen to everyone’s phone calls and read everyone’s emails first. He effectively argued that the feds need to break into a house first to see what evidence they can find there so as to present that evidence to a judge and get a search warrant to enter the house.

Such a circuitous argument would have made Joe Stalin happy, but it flunks American Criminal Procedure 101. It is the job of law enforcement to acquire probable cause without violating the Fourth Amendment. The whole purpose of the probable cause standard is to force the government to focus on people it suspects of wrongdoing and leave the rest of us alone. Christie wants the feds to use a fish net. Paul argues that the Constitution requires the feds to use a fish hook.

Christie rejects the plain meaning of the Constitution, as well as the arguments of the Framers, and he ignores the lessons of history. The idea that the government must break the law in order to enforce it or violate the Constitution in order to preserve it is the stuff of tyrannies, not free people.

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

The Slaughter of Babies

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

The recent broadcast of videotapes taken of persons employed at Planned Parenthood -- the prolific and notorious abortion provider -- has brought the issue of abortion to the national consciousness again and front and center to the Republican presidential primary campaign. The tapes were made secretly by a pro-life group determined to show to the world the dark side of Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds.

What the world saw was terrifying and damning. The tapes are difficult to watch, just as any discussion of human slaughter is difficult to watch. If you have seen these tapes, you witnessed physicians and others talking about the profits Planned Parenthood is making in the sale of baby body parts, even though such sales are criminal under federal law.

The cavalier demeanor of those who profit from this slaughter is chilling, and the moral punch in the nose to the Democratic Party is excruciating. That’s because Planned Parenthood is virtually a branch of the Democratic Party. It has a lock on the federal treasury to the tune of $500 million per year. It pays for or performs more than 325,000 abortions a year, which is about one-third of all abortions in America. It contributes heavily to the campaigns of Democratic office seekers. You can see the cycle.

Even though federal law has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions for nearly 18 years, money is fungible. The Planned Parenthood folks may be baby killers, but they are not dumb. They know how to dedicate federal funds for maternal health and free up maternal health funds for the slaughter of babies -- and make it all look legal.

The reason these tapes are so upsetting to the Democrats, and to some Republicans as well, is that they have convinced themselves that the fetus in the womb is not a person. Yet, watching their abortionists graphically discuss the monetary value of body parts and the physical manipulation of fully formed babies so as to maximize the harvesting of their organs ironically humanizes the body parts and the babies from which the parts came, and is thus so upsetting to those who deny fetal personhood.

But this is more than upsetting -- it seriously challenges the underlying commitment of today’s Democratic Party that the fetus is not a person. This is, of course, the central holding of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Just as in Dred Scott v. Sandford, wherein the court held in 1857 that African-Americans were not persons, so did Roe v. Wade make that holding for fetuses.

And the stated reason for the holding was the absence of consensus in 1973 among philosophers, physicians, theologians and scientists about when life begins. Yet, the duty of the court is to say what the Constitution means, not to count noses. Roe is the only Supreme Court decision in history grounded on the absence of discernible consensus among the populace.

Is the fetus in the womb a person? Before answering this, consider the depravity to which we have sunk due to its legal non-personhood. The slaughter of babies, some where it is legal in their ninth month of gestation, the sale of their body parts, and the taxpayer financing of this have become so morose that even their staunchest supporters cannot confront these realities publicly for fear of losing political support.

Is the fetus in the womb a person? Before answering this, consider the danger of a Supreme Court possessing the power to declare any human offspring to be a non-person. Two months ago, we witnessed the spectacle of the court finding four plain English words -- “established by the States” -- to be ambiguous and, 21 pages later, telling us that legally those words do not mean what they say. If the court can change the meaning of ordinary words, can it change the meaning of life?

It has.

Is the fetus in the womb a person? Of course it is. It has two fully human parents and the fully actualizable human genome to achieve post-natal existence. The single-cell zygote in the mother’s womb came from her flesh and cannot be anything but a human person. For 600 years, the law has permitted the fetus in the womb to inherit property. How could that be if the fetus were not a human person? If you kill a pregnant woman and the fetus dies, you can be charged with the murder of two persons. If the reason for government in the first place is to protect rights, the government’s prime obligation is to protect the rights of persons to live.

The Democrats are not alone at fault here. In the first six years of the presidency of George W. Bush, when the Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress, numerous efforts were made to introduce a simple one-line statute: “The fetus in the womb shall be, for all constitutional and legal purposes, a person.” Republican congressional leaders kept all such proposals from being voted upon.

But seeing is believing. The tapes are the abortionists’ nightmare, because in their wanton slaughter they have let slip the utter humanity of their victims. And the souls of the Holy Innocents who have been slaughtered before drawing their first breaths are no doubt praying for the conversion of the hearts and the salvation of the souls of those who killed them.

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

Hillary Lies Again

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

In a column I wrote in early July, based on research by my colleagues and my own analysis of government documents and eyewitness statements, I argued that in 2011 and 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waged a secret war on the governments of Libya and Syria, with the approval of President Obama and the consent of congressional leadership from both parties and in both houses of Congress.

I did err in that column with respect to an arms dealer named Marc Turi. I regret the error and apologize for it. I wrote that Turi sold arms to Qatar as part of Clinton’s scheme to get them into the hands of rebels. A further review of the documents makes it clear that he applied to do so but was denied permission, and so he did not sell arms to Qatar. Other arms dealers did.

I also erred when referring to Qatar as beholden to Washington. In fact, Qatar is in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood and is one of the biggest supporters of global jihad in the world -- and Clinton, who approved the sales of arms to Qatar expecting them to make their way to Syrian and Libyan rebels, as they did, knew that. She and her State Department caused American arms to come into the possession of known al-Qaida operatives, a few of whom assassinated U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked Clinton in January 2013 at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether she knew of any weapons coming from the U.S. and going to rebels in the Middle East, she denied such knowledge. She either has a memory so faulty that she should not be entrusted with any governmental powers, or she knowingly lied.

It gets worse.

It now appears that Clinton was managing her war using emails that she diverted through a computer server owned by her husband’s charitable foundation, even though some of her emails contained sensitive and classified materials. This was in direct violation of federal law, which requires all in government who possess classified or sensitive materials to secure them in a government-approved venue.

The inspector general of the intelligence community and the inspector general of the State Department each have reviewed a limited sampling of her emails that were sent or received via the Clinton Foundation server, and both have concluded that materials contained in some of them were of such gravity that they were obliged under federal law to refer their findings to the FBI for further investigation.

The FBI does not investigate for civil wrongdoing or ethical lapses. It investigates behavior that may be criminal or that may expose the nation’s security to jeopardy. It then recommends either that indictments be sought or the matter be addressed through non-prosecutorial means. Given Clinton’s unique present position -- as the president’s first secretary of state and one who seeks to succeed him, as well as being the wife of one of his predecessors -- it is inconceivable that she could be prosecuted as Gen. David Petraeus was (for the crime of failing to secure classified materials) without the personal approval of the president himself.

Let’s be realistic and blunt: If the president wants Clinton prosecuted for failing to secure classified materials, then she will be, no matter the exculpatory evidence or any political fallout. If he does not want her prosecuted, then she won’t be, no matter what the FBI finds or any political fallout.

I have not seen the emails the inspectors general sent to the FBI, but I have seen the Clinton emails, which are now in the public domain. They show Clinton sending or receiving emails to and from her confidante Sid Blumenthal and one of her State Department colleagues using her husband’s foundation’s server, and not a secure government server. These emails address the location of French jets approaching Libya, the location of no-fly zones over Libya and the location of Stevens in Libya. It is inconceivable that an American secretary of state failed to protect and secure this information.

But it is not inconceivable that she would lie about it.

Federal statutes provide for three categories of classified information. “Top secret” is data that, if revealed, could likely cause grave damage to national security. “Secret” is data that, if revealed, could likely cause serious damage to national security. “Confidential” is data that, if revealed, could likely cause some damage to national security. Her own daily calendars, which she regularly emailed about, are considered confidential.

Clinton has repeatedly denied ever sending or receiving data in any of these categories. She probably will argue that an email that fails to use the terminology of the statute cannot be deemed classified. Here the inspectors general have corrected her. It is the essence of the data in an email -- its potential for harm if revealed -- that makes its contents classified and the failure to protect it a crime -- not the use of a magic word or phrase in the subject line.

She is no doubt lying again, just as she did to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Yet the question remains: Why did she use her husband’s foundation’s computer server instead of a government server, as the law requires? She did that so she could obscure what the server recorded and thus be made to appear different according to history from how she was in reality. Why did she lie about all this? Because she thinks she can get away with it.

Will American voters let her?

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

Hillary's Secret War

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

In the course of my work at Fox News, I am often asked by colleagues to review and explain documents and statutes. Recently, in conjunction with my colleagues Catherine Herridge, our chief intelligence correspondent, and Pamela Browne, our senior executive producer, I read the transcripts of an interview Browne did with a man named Marc Turi, and Herridge asked me to review emails to and from State Department and congressional officials during the years when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state.

What I saw has persuaded me beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that Clinton provided material assistance to terrorists and lied to Congress in a venue where the law required her to be truthful. Here is the backstory.

Turi is a lawfully licensed American arms dealer. In 2011, he applied to the Departments of State and Treasury for approvals to sell arms to the government of Qatar. Qatar is a small Middle Eastern country whose government is so entwined with the U.S. government that it almost always will do what American government officials ask of it.

In its efforts to keep arms from countries and groups that might harm Americans and American interests, Congress has authorized the Departments of State and Treasury to be arms gatekeepers. They can declare a country or group to be a terrorist organization, in which case selling or facilitating the sale of arms to them is a felony. They also can license dealers to sell.

Turi sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of arms to the government of Qatar, which then, at the request of American government officials, were sold, bartered or given to rebel groups in Libya and Syria. Some of the groups that received the arms were on the U.S. terror list. Thus, the same State and Treasury Departments that licensed the sales also prohibited them.

How could that be?

That’s where Clinton’s secret State Department and her secret war come in. Because Clinton used her husband’s computer server for all of her email traffic while she was the Secretary of State, a violation of three federal laws, few in the State Department outside her inner circle knew what she was up to.

Now we know.

She obtained permission from President Obama and consent from congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and in both parties to arm rebels in Syria and Libya in an effort to overthrow the governments of those countries.

Many of the rebels Clinton armed, using the weapons lawfully sold to Qatar by Turi and others, were terrorist groups who are our sworn enemies. There was no congressional declaration of war, no congressional vote, no congressional knowledge beyond fewer than a dozen members, and no federal statute that authorized this.

When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked Clinton at a public hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 23, 2013, whether she knew about American arms shipped to the Middle East, to Turkey or to any other country, she denied any knowledge. It is unclear whether she was under oath at the time, but that is legally irrelevant. The obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to Congress pertains to all witnesses who testify before congressional committees, whether an oath has been administered or not. (Just ask Roger Clemens, who was twice prosecuted for misleading Congress about the contents of his urine while not under oath. He was acquitted.)

Here is her relevant testimony.

Paul: My question is … is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons … buying, selling … anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey … out of Libya?

Clinton: To Turkey? ... I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody’s ever raised that with me. I, I…

Paul: It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons … and what I’d like to know is … the (Benghazi) annex that was close by… Were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons … and were any of these weapons transferred to other countries … any countries, Turkey included?

Clinton: Senator, you will have to direct that question to the agency that ran the (Benghazi) annex. And I will see what information is available and … ahhhh…

Paul: You are saying you don’t know…

Clinton: I do not know. I don’t have any information on that.

At the time that Clinton denied knowledge of the arms shipments, she and her State Department political designee Andrew Shapiro had authorized thousands of shipments of billions of dollars’ worth of arms to U.S. enemies to fight her secret war. Among the casualties of her war were U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three colleagues, who were assassinated at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, by rebels Clinton armed with American military hardware in violation of American law.

This secret war and the criminal behavior that animated it was the product of conspirators in the White House, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the CIA and a tight-knit group of members of Congress. Their conspiracy has now unraveled. Where is the outrage among the balance of Congress?

Hillary Clinton lied to Congress, gave arms to terrorists and destroyed her emails. How much longer can she hide the truth? How much longer can her lawlessness go unchallenged and unprosecuted? Does she really think the American voters will overlook her criminal behavior and put her in the White House where she can pardon herself?

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

What If They Are Hiding the Truth?

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

What if President Obama secretly agreed with others in the government in 2011 to provide arms to rebels in Libya and Syria? What if the scheme called for American arms merchants to sell serious American military hardware to the government of Qatar, which would and did transfer it to rebel groups? What if the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved those sales?

What if the approvals were kept secret because some of those rebel groups were characterized by the same Departments of State and Treasury as terrorist organizations? What if the ultimate recipients of those arms were the militants and monsters in al-Qaida and ISIS who have slain and tortured innocents?

What if this scheme is defined in federal law as providing material assistance to terrorist organizations? What if that’s a felony? What if that’s the same felony for which the U.S Department of Justice has prosecuted dozens of persons merely for attempting? What if this scheme was not a mere attempt, but an actual arming of terrorists?

What if this scheme was approved not only by the president, but also by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? What if the idea of doing this was hers? What if congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and from both parties signed off on this? What if the remaining members of Congress and the American people were kept in the dark about this scheme? What if those who agreed to permit this scheme knew that the arms were destined for terrorist organizations and they were flirting with a criminal conspiracy to violate federal law?

What if Clinton was asked by senators while under oath about the delivery of arms made by American manufacturers to ports in the Middle East and she denied knowing anything about it? What if she knew she had personally approved the deliveries but falsely claimed she had no knowledge?

What if this arms-to-terrorists scheme began to unravel? What if the rebels were really bad guys? What if there are many rebel/terrorist groups with varying degrees of hatred for the United States? What if some of the groups that received American arms are so hateful of the U.S. that they will bite the hands that fed them?

What if Clinton’s job was to prevent American arms from slipping into the hands of terrorists? What if she secretly did the opposite of what her job required? What if she and the president and the other conspirators viewed themselves as being above the law? What if they thought the terrorist groups they were arming would overthrow the Gadhafi government in Libya and the Assad government in Syria? What if they believed those revolutions would be greeted with cheers in the West? What if they hoped the cheers would be for them?

What if their goal of regime change succeeded in Libya, and yet the result was chaos? What if under Col. Gadhafi Libya had been a stable U.S. ally? What if today there is no central government in Libya and it is ruled by gangs and tribes and militias?

What if the American assistance to Syrian rebels became known to the Russians? What if that knowledge prompted Russian President Putin to help his ally, President Assad of Syria? What if the American and Russian introduction of heavy military hardware into the Syrian civil war has resulted in prolonged war and more deaths of innocents and destruction of property, not less?

What if one of the terrorist groups that received American arms from this scheme attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, because it wanted more arms from the U.S. and it knew arms were stored there? What if that attack killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three of his colleagues? What if this was a nightmare scenario for the conspirators? What if the conspirators now fear that the truth of their plot will become known?

What if the tragedy at Benghazi was unwelcome but not unforeseen? What if the conspirators knew of the risks to innocent lives attendant upon breaking the law by giving arms to madmen? What if members of Congress who were kept in the dark about the arms-to-terrorists scheme were outraged over Benghazi? What if leaders of the House of Representatives, some of whom were conspirators, formed a committee to investigate how the murder of Stevens came about?

What if some members of that committee already know that Stevens and the others were murdered with U.S. weapons illegally given to U.S. enemies secretly by U.S. government officials? What if the stated purpose of the committee -- to seek the truth about Benghazi -- is not the true purpose? What if the real purpose of that committee is to suppress the truth so that the president and Clinton and the other conspirators do not get indicted? What if the truth is the last thing the conspirators want to see come out?

What do we do about lawless government by secrecy? What do we do about government officials who act as if they are above the law? What do we do if one of them lives in the White House and controls all federal prosecutions? What do we do if another of them is presently on her way there?

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

Saving the Fourth

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

The Patriot Act has a bad pedigree and an evil history. In the fearful days immediately following 9/11, the Department of Justice quickly sent draft legislation to Congress that, if enacted, would have permitted federal agents to violate their oaths to uphold the Constitution by writing their own search warrants. The draft subsequently was revealed to have been written before 9/11, but that’s another story.

The House Judiciary Committee reviewed the legislation and revised it so that it would meet Fourth Amendment norms. The revised version permitted federal agents to write their own search warrants for business records, but the warrants could be challenged by the custodian of the records or by the person whose records were being sought. Because the records were in the hands of a third party, they were in no danger of destruction.

The Fourth Amendment was written largely to assure that the general warrants British soldiers used to search the colonists’ homes would never be lawful in the United States. General warrants were issued by secret courts in London based on the government’s needs, not on evidence of wrongdoing. They authorized the bearer to search wherever he wished and seize whatever he found.

In order to protect the natural right to be left alone -- privacy -- the Framers enacted standards in the Fourth Amendment that required the government to produce evidence about the person whose records it wants -- called probable cause -- and present that evidence to a judge when it wants a search warrant. If granted, the Constitution requires that the warrant particularly describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.

After the House Judiciary Committee took all this into account in its redrafting of the proposed Patriot Act, the House Republican leadership and the George W. Bush White House pulled a fast one. They switched the painstakingly negotiated version of the Patriot Act for the original version and posted the original version on the House intranet, and leadership scheduled a vote within the hour of posting.

It is safe to say that no member of the House read the Patriot Act in that hour. It takes about 20 hours to read, as it is hundreds of pages in length, and it amends dozens of prior statutes that also must be read. Most House members clearly never knew what they were authorizing. The only negotiated-for provision that survived the switch was the sunset provision of section 215.

Section 215 only authorizes the feds to write their own search warrants for business records and for surveillance of so-called lone-wolf terrorists no matter what telephone they may use. The Bush and Obama administrations secretly persuaded the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court that somehow section 215 also permitted the NSA to acquire bulk data from telephone and computer use based on the government’s needs, not based on probable cause.

Bulk data is undifferentiated as to persons. Rather, it is collected by zip code or area code or service provider customer base. Section 215 expires at the end of this week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the second highest court in the land, declared the collection of bulk data under section 215 to be illegal. The court ruled that the language of section 215 does not authorize bulk data collection, and no section of the Patriot Act does. That court gave Congress until June 1 to clarify the language. If Congress fails to do so by June 1, the court will entertain applications to bar the NSA from collecting bulk data, and it indicated it would likely grant those applications.

Last week, the House voted to revise section 215, and the Senate did not. Thus, it is likely to expire on Sunday night.

President Obama, who falsely claims to be opposed to the collection of bulk data, can stop it with his signature, but he has not done so. He claims to favor the House version of surveillance, which has ridiculously been dubbed the Freedom Act.

The Freedom Act would get the NSA’s computer geeks physically out of the facilities of telecoms and computer servers, but would let them back in digitally with the FISA court’s approval, and that approval is not conditioned on probable cause. Rather, it is to be granted whenever the NSA needs the data. In the 14 years of all this spying, the NSA has made more than 34,000 requests of the FISA court; only 12 have been denied.

If section 215 expires next week, the feds will need individualized search warrants in order to listen to phone calls. They already have been getting individualized search warrants for the phone calls and emails of potential lone-wolf terrorists and for the business records of suspected terrorist groups and those whom they have successfully prosecuted for terrorist acts.

If all of the above is not enough to induce anyone in Congress faithful to the Constitution to reject extending section 215, perhaps the findings of the inspector general of the Department of Justice itself will. Late last week, he released a report in which he found that the bulk collection of data has not stopped a single act of terror or aided a single federal terrorism prosecution since the Patriot Act became law on October 26, 2001.

The government's bulk collection of data must go. It assaults freedoms, and it fails to enhance our safety.

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

Rand and Ted on the Fourth

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

A decision last week about NSA spying by a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals in New York City sent shock waves through the government. The court ruled that a section of the Patriot Act that is due to expire at the end of this month and on which the government has relied as a basis for its bulk acquisition of telephone data in the past 14 years does not authorize that acquisition.

This may sound like legal mumbo jumbo, but it goes to the heart of the relationship between the people and their government in a free society. Here is the backstory and the latest.

The Patriot Act is the centerpiece of the federal government’s false claims that by surrendering our personal liberties to it, it can somehow keep us safe. The liberty-for-safety offer has been around for millennia and was poignant at the time of the founding of the American republic.

The Framers addressed it in the Constitution itself, where they recognized the primacy of the right to privacy and insured against its violation by the government by intentionally forcing it to jump through some difficult hoops before it can capture our thoughts, words or private behavior.

Those hoops are the requirement of a search warrant issued by a judge and based on evidence -- called probable cause -- demonstrating that it is more likely than not that the government will find what it is looking for from the person or place it is targeting. Only then may a judge issue a warrant, which must specifically describe the place to be searched or specifically identify the person or thing to be seized.

None of this is new. It has been at the core of our system of government since the 1790s. It is embodied in the Fourth Amendment, which is at the heart of the Bill of Rights. It is quintessentially American.

The Patriot Act has purported to do away with the search warrant requirement by employing language so intentionally vague that the government can interpret it as it wishes. Add to this the secret venue for this interpretation -- the FISA court to which the Patriot Act directs that NSA applications for authority to spy on Americans are to be made -- and you have the totalitarian stew we have been force-fed since October 2001.

Because the FISA court meets in secret, Americans did not know that the feds were spying on all of us all the time and relying on their own unnatural reading of words in the Patriot Act to justify it until Edward Snowden spilled the beans on his former employer nearly two years ago.

The feds argued to the secret court that they were entitled to any phone call data they wanted -- usually sought by area code or zip code or the customer base of telecom service providers -- so long as they claimed to need it to search for communications about terror-related activities, and they claimed they needed EVERYONE’S records, and they claimed the Patriot Act authorized this.

The secret court bought those claims, and -- fast-forward to today -- the feds now have immediate access to our phone calls in real time. They can turn on our cellphones in our pockets and purses and use them as listening devices without us knowing it, and they have physical access to all telephone carriers’ equipment whenever they wish, which today is 24/7.

Some members of Congress reject this. Foremost among the outraged in the Senate is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It is none of the government’s business, he argues, what we say on our phone calls. If the NSA wants to hear us, let them present probable cause to a judge identifying the person they want to hear and seek a search warrant. Paul’s is a genuine outrage from the only voice among those running for president who is faithful to the Constitution.

Other senators, foremost among them Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also running for president, are pretending outrage by offering a Band-Aid to replace the Patriot Act called the Freedom Act. The Freedom Act gets the NSA physically out of the telecoms’ offices, but lets them come back in digitally whenever one of these secret FISA courts says so, and the standard for saying so is not probable cause as the Constitution requires. It is whatever the government wants and whenever it wants it.

The so-called Freedom Act would actually legitimize all spying all the time on all of us in ways that the Patriot Act fails to do. It is no protection of privacy; it is no protection of constitutional liberty. It unleashes American spies on innocent Americans in utter disregard of the Fourth Amendment.

Earlier this week, Paul announced that he feels so strongly about the right to be left alone, and takes so seriously his oath to uphold the Constitution, and believes so certainly that our phone calls are none of the government’s business that he plans to filibuster all attempts to permit this to continue. For that alone, he is a hero to the Constitution. Perhaps his friend Cruz will return to his constitutional roots and join him.

How do we know that the Freedom Act is a Band-Aid only? Because the NSA supports it.

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

Restore the Fourth

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

If you plan to visit a college campus this month, don’t be surprised if you see signs and placards encouraging you to “Restore the Fourth.” Restore the Fourth is not about an athletic event or a holiday; it is about human freedom. The reference to “the Fourth” is to the Fourth Amendment, and it is badly in need of restoration.

In the dark days following 9/11, Congress enacted the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act has many flaws, including its prohibition of certain truthful public speech, but its most pernicious assault is on the constitutional right to privacy.

One of its sections permits federal agents to write their own search warrants and serve them on persons and entities who by law are the custodians of records about others, such as physicians, lawyers, bankers, telecoms, public utilities and computers servers. The same section of the act has been used perversely by the NSA and the secret FISA court to authorize the bulk collection of data.

Bulk collection of data -- the indiscriminate governmental acquisition of the contents of emails, text messages, telephone calls, bank statements and credit card bills -- is what the NSA seeks when it acquires all data in a specific area code or zip code or from a named provider, like Verizon, AT&T and Google.

What’s wrong with bulk collection? The warrant issued by the FISA court that authorizes bulk collection is known as a general warrant. A general warrant does not name a person or place, but authorizes the bearer to search wherever he wishes and seize whatever he finds. General warrants were a tool of colonial repression used by the king prior to the American Revolution. They were issued by secret courts in London. They were so loathed by the Framers that they are expressly forbidden by the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment requires evidence -- called probable cause -- about a particular person, place or event to be presented to a judge and requires the judge to decide whether it is more likely than not that the government will find what it is looking for. The wording of the amendment could not be more precise, and in a Constitution known for vague language, this precision is instructive: All warrants must “particularly descr(ibe) the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Fourth Amendment protects all persons’ bodies, houses, papers and effects.

Yet the Patriot Act purports to avoid these requirements by permitting secret FISA court judges to authorize NSA agents to execute general warrants; thus, without probable cause and without describing the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.

The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to prohibit government fishing expeditions, common to totalitarian countries. The theory of the Fourth Amendment is that a restrained government -- restrained by an instrument the government cannot change, like the Constitution -- is essential if people are to be free. The natural right protected by the Fourth Amendment is the right to be left alone.

Enter Restore the Fourth.

Restore the Fourth is a movement gaining steam now because the section of the Patriot Act that is so constitutionally offensive expires on May 31. President Obama wants it extended so his spies can continue their bulk collection of data. The Republican leadership in the Senate agrees with the president and accepts the myth that less freedom equals more security. The Republican leadership in the House has proposed a Band-Aid that would require the telecoms and computer service providers to sit on bulk data until the feds come calling, but to surrender it without the judicial finding of probable cause or specificity.

The Patriot Act should be repealed because it violates the Constitution and it doesn’t keep us safe. It renders us less safe and less free. The indiscriminate unconstitutional bulk collection of data is far too much raw material even for the 60,000 NSA agents and contractors to navigate. We saw that as recently as last weekend, when two jihadists known to the FBI and who had used email and cellphones attacked a free speech symposium outside of Dallas and were stopped at the last minute by courageous local police who saw their guns -- not by federal spies’ warnings.

When longtime NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander was asked under oath how many plots the NSA has stopped in 10 years, he stated 53. The next day, he modified his testimony to three, but declined to elaborate. Edward Snowden, whose revelations about NSA spying have never been refuted, says that no plots have been stopped because the NSA looks at everyone, rather than targeting the bad guys, as the probable cause requirement -- if complied with -- would induce it to do.

Americans are largely free because of the rule of law. The rule of law means a supreme law of the land to which even the government is subject, just as are all persons. Without the rule of law, we are subject to the rule of whoever runs the government, and our rights become licenses to be granted or denied by whoever runs the government. In that world, who or what would restrain the government? An unrestrained government is what we fought the American Revolution against.

That’s why we must Restore the Fourth.

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

The Tyranny of One Man's Opinion

Andrew P. Napolitano*

Judge Napolitano

Judge Napolitano

Thomas Cromwell was the principal behind-the-scenes fixer for much of the reign of King Henry VIII. He engineered the interrogations, convictions and executions of many whom Henry needed out of the way, including his two predecessors as fixer and even the king's second wife, Queen Anne.

When Cromwell's son, Gregory, who became sickened as he watched his father devolving from counselor to monster, learned that an executioner for the queen had been sent for from France a week before her conviction, he asked his father what the purpose of her trial was if the king had preordained the queen's guilt and prepaid the executioner. Cromwell replied that the king needed a jury to give legitimacy to her conviction and prevent the public perception of "the tyranny of one man's opinion."

In America, we have a Constitution not only to prevent the perception but also to prevent the reality of the tyranny of one man's opinion. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment makes clear that if the government wants life, liberty or property, it cannot take it by legislation or executive command; it can do so only by due process -- a fair jury trial and all its constitutional protections.

The constitutional insistence upon due process was the result of not only the Colonial revulsion at the behavior of Henry and his successors but also the recognition of the natural individual right to fairness from the government. If one man in the government becomes prosecutor, judge and jury, there can be no fairness, no matter who that man is or what his intentions may be. That is at least the theory underlying the requirements for due process.

President Barack Obama has rejected not only the theory but also the practice of due process by his use of drones launched by the CIA to kill Americans and others overseas. The use of the CIA to do the killing is particularly troubling and has aroused the criticism of senators as disparate in their views as Rand Paul and John McCain, both of whom have argued that the CIA's job is to steal and keep secrets and the military's job is to further national security by using force; and their roles should not be confused or conflated, because the laws governing each are different.

Theirs is not an academic argument. The president's use of the CIA is essentially unlimited as long as he receives the secret consent of a majority of the members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. The secret use of these 37 senators and representatives constituting the two committees as a Congress-within-the Congress is profoundly unconstitutional because Congress cannot delegate its war-making powers to any committee or group without effectively disenfranchising the voters whose congressional representatives are not in the group.

Moreover, the War Powers Resolution regulates the president's use of the military and essentially precludes secret wars. It requires the public consent of a majority of the full Congress for all offensive military action greater than 90 days. That, in turn, brings about transparency and requires a national political will to use military force.

President Obama has formulated rules -- agreed to by a majority of the 37, but not by a majority in Congress -- that permit him to kill Americans and others overseas when he believes they are engaging in acts that pose an imminent threat to our national security, when their arrest would be impracticable and when personally authorized by the president. This is not federal law, just rules Obama wrote for himself. Yet none of the Americans he has killed fits any of those rules.

Last week, the White House revealed that in January, the government launched its 446th drone into a foreign land, and this one killed three Americans and an Italian, none of whom had been targeted or posed a threat to national security at the time of his murder. The drone, which was dispatched by a computer in Virginia, was aimed at a house in Pakistan and was sent on its lethal way without the approval of the Pakistani government or the knowledge of President Obama.

The use of drones is not only constitutionally impermissible but also contraindicated by the rules of war. Drones pose no threat and little danger to those doing the killing. Except when the intelligence is bad -- as it was in the January case revealed last week -- deploying drones is a low-risk endeavor for the country doing so. But Obama's wars by robots produce more killing than is necessary. War should be dangerous for all sides so as to limit its lethality to only those venues that are worth the risk -- those that are vital for national security.

If war is not dangerous, it will become commonplace. By one measure -- the absence of personal involvement by decision-makers -- it has become commonplace already. A mere three years after his self-written rules for the deployment of drones were promulgated, the president has delegated the authority to order drone killings to his staff, and the members of the congressional intelligence committees have delegated their authority to consent to their staffs.

Obama apparently doesn't care about the Constitution he swore to uphold, but he should care about the deaths of innocents. Obama's drones have killed more non-targeted innocents in foreign lands than were targeted and killed in the U.S. on 9/11.

And the world is vastly less stable now than it was on 9/11. The president's flying robots of death have spawned the Islamic State group -- a monstrosity far exceeding even Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell in barbarity.

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

No Place To Hide

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

With heart-pounding suspense, John le Carre-like intrigue and Jeffersonian fidelity to the principles of human freedom, Glenn Greenwald has just published “No Place to Hide.” The book, which reads like a thriller, is Greenwald’s story of his nonstop two weeks of work in May and June of 2013 in Hong Kong with former CIA agent and NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald was the point person who coordinated the public release of the 1.7 million pages of NSA documents that Snowden took with him in order to prove definitively that the federal government is spying on all of us all the time.

The revelations constituted for Greenwald the scoop of the century; for Snowden, the exposure of massive government violations of basic constitutional principles by his former bosses; for the NSA and the Bush and Obama administrations, the revelation of criminal wrongdoing orchestrated by two presidents themselves; and for the American public, a painful realization that the Constitution is only as valuable a restraint on the government as is the fidelity to uphold it of those in whose hands we have reposed it for safekeeping. As Greenwald makes clear, it is not in good hands.

“No Place to Hide” not only tells of Snowden’s initially frustrating and anonymous efforts to reach out to Greenwald and the others; it not only carefully explains the insatiable appetite of the NSA to learn everything about everyone (“Collect it all” was a continuously posted NSA motto); it is also a morality tale about the personal courage required of Snowden and Greenwald and his colleagues to expose government wrongdoing and the risk to their lives, liberties and properties in doing so.

In the midst of one of their endless Hong Kong hotel meetings, Snowden told the journalists that the local CIA station employed agents trained to kill; and it was just a few blocks away. Then The Guardian’s lawyers informed Greenwald that the Bush and Obama administrations had not hesitated to use the Espionage Act of 1917 -- a World War I-era relic, still on the books, employed to chill, stifle, suppress and ultimately punish free speech -- to attempt to lock up journalists even when they revealed the truth. At this point in my reading the book on Memorial Day, I noticed that my pulse was racing, even though I obviously knew the outcome.

The road to the outcome began about a year ago when Greenwald received email messages from an anonymous yet persistent and intellectually intriguing source. The source demonstrated such a superb command of the Internet, such a patient understanding of Greenwald’s need for a basic education in the craft of digital spying, such a Jeffersonian understanding of the constitutional role of government in our lives, and so enticed Greenwald and his editors at The Guardian that, sight unseen, they traveled to Hong Kong to see whether the source possessed the documentary evidence he claimed to have of the most massive and sophisticated American government spying upon innocents in our history. He did.

Greenwald skillfully uses NSA documents to demonstrate that the highest government officials to discuss this spying in public -- President Bush, President Obama, Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander -- all lied to the American public, (in the case of Clapper and Alexander, they probably did so criminally, as they were testifying to Congress), and they engaged in a conspiracy to violate the constitutionally protected rights to privacy of every American. After initially denying all this, then disparaging Snowden, then questioning his loyalty, then questioning his sanity, the government reluctantly admitted to all that Snowden revealed. How could it not? Snowden’s revelations consist entirely of the NSA’s own documents, many of which are reproduced in Greenwald’s book.

The government has argued that when it engages in all this spying, it is looking for a needle in a haystack. It claims it can only keep us safe if it knows all and sees all. Yet, such an argument cannot be made with intellectual honesty by anyone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution.

The Constitution was written to keep the government off of the people’s backs. The Constitution protects the right to be left alone and the right to be different. The Constitution presupposes the existence of natural rights and areas of human endeavor that are insulated from government knowledge and immune to government regulation, except in the most carefully prescribed circumstances. Those circumstances require that probable cause of crime be possessed by the government about identifiable persons and demonstrated to a neutral judge before the government may engage in any surveillance of that person -- and all those NSA conspirators and all their judicial facilitators know this.

And what has Congress done in response to all this indiscriminate spying -- spying that we now know is done upon members of Congress themselves? The Senate has done nothing, yet. The House passed legislation last week called the USA Freedom Act. This deceptively entitled nonsense so muddies the legal waters with ambiguous language that if enacted into law, the bill actually would strengthen the ability of the NSA to spy on all of us all the time. Is it any surprise that Obama and the NSA leadership support these so-called reforms?

The duty of government is to keep us free and to keep our freedoms safe. If it fails to protect freedom, it should be replaced. If it continues to spy on all of us all the time, then Greenwald’s title -- taken from a warning issued by the late Sen. Frank Church in the pre-Internet era -- will have come to pass. We will have no place to hide and no freedoms left to exercise without the government’s approval.

 

*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom.”