This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to The Wall Street Journal/ Fox News on October 10, 2011
WASHINGTON – The U.S. government obtained a controversial type of secret court order to force Google Inc. and small internet provider Sonic.net Inc. to turn over information from the email accounts of a WikiLeaks volunteer.
Sonic said it fought the government's order and lost, and was forced to turn over information. Challenging the order was "rather expensive, but we felt it was the right thing to do," said Sonic's chief executive, Dane Jasper.
The government's request included the email addresses of people volunteer Jacob Appelbaum corresponded with over the past two years, but not the full emails, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Both Google and Sonic pressed for the right to inform Appelbaum of the secret court orders, according to people familiar with the investigation. Google declined to comment. Appelbaum, 28, has not been charged with wrongdoing.
The court clashes in the WikiLeaks case provide a rare public window into the growing debate over a federal law that lets the government secretly obtain information from people's email and cell phones without a search warrant. Several court decisions have questioned whether the law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, violates the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
After WikiLeaks released a trove of classified government diplomatic cables last year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. was pursuing an "active criminal investigation" of WikiLeaks. Earlier this year Twitter fought a court order to turn over records from the accounts of WikiLeaks supporters including Appelbaum.
US Constitution; Amendment 4
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.
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Benjamin Franklin)
We the People:
Whenever a search warrant is bypassed, checks and balances are bypassed. An independent branch of government will not be consulted for a test of “reasonable” search or probable cause in these instances. And so the regression of our constitutional protections continues.