November 15, 2012

Further notes on the slippery slope to tyranny

One aspect of Dave & Paula & Jack & Jill that has received little attention (yet is the actual story) is the extent to which the FBI ransacked the email accounts of four Americans without a shred of probable cause.  Glenn Greenwald wrote about it, of course, and Rachel Maddow (that perspicacious observer of subtle story lines) said something, too, for which she deserves much praise, for after all this is Obama the Great's Justice Department of which we speak..  But for the most part, the complete and utter disregard of the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights continues unimpeded by so much as a whimper from the Mainstream Media or the political establishment. 

For example, our Constitutional scholar President might have risen to the defense of his CIA Director by murmuring the following:  General Petraeus's emails were hacked into by the FBI by the following chain of logic:  an FBI agent with the hots for Jill Kelley, the Tampa party girl and military groupie, responded to Jill's damsel-in-distress routine about emails received from Paula Broadwell, which apparently were to the effect of "back off, bitch," or something along those high school-rivalry lines.  This agent, along with others at the FBI, could not really find anything in these emails from Broadwell to Kelley which were actionable; there were no threats of bodily harm, no warning that Jill's house would be burned down, nothing.  Nevertheless, the FBI then began pawing through Paula Broadwell's emails and discovered that she was having an affair with Petraeus.  This led to reading all of the CIA Director's emails, and then the agents discovered among the emails of Jill Kelley (which they of course began reading, far beyond the scope of the Broadwell "threat" emails) the voluminous emails from General John Allen to Jill Kelley.

The only activity that is even remotely improper, as far as the four targets of the FBI were concerned, was General Allen's affair (if there was one) with Kelley, which would violate the rules of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  But UCMJ rules are not within the purview of the FBI.  Petraeus's affair is not criminal in any way, since he was a civilian (CIA Director) at the time his liaison with Broadwell occurred.  More importantly, as of the time the FBI began its wholesale invasion of the privacy of these four Americans, there was no indication that any crime had been committed, since the point of entry for the Bureau was the Broadwell to Kelley email traffic.  Unless the FBI found an initial basis for believing (reasonably) that a crime had been committed, anything else it discovered would be inadmissible as "fruit of the poisonous tree," as we used to quaintly call the doctrine before the repeal of the Fourth Amendment.

The FBI paid a kind of faint tribute to the rules of search-and-seizure by arguing, ex post facto, that the Bureau was "concerned about breaches of security," thus betraying the FBI's cognizance that it had no business rifling through the private lives of four Americans without a predicate crime on which to base its investigation.  This "national security" stuff (involving the Petraeus-Broadwell affair) came to light only after the initial violation of the Fourth Amendment.

As I say, if we had other than an Empty Suit President (with the election behind us and a greater danger averted, we can go back to the plain truth), the real issue here would be part of the public discourse.  But Obama, while still a Senator, completely reversed himself on the issue of telecom immunity for cooperating with violations of the FISA law and warrantless searches, despite his campaign promise that he would "never" vote for immunity.  He didn't until it became politically expedient to do so.

President O doesn't want to dredge all that up into the public consciousness again, so he will, as usual, do nothing.  Which, as we have been warned by wise men, is all that is necessary for evil to thrive.

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