Banality of Evil

I am afraid we are on a path to thoroughly eviscerating the Fourth Amendment simply because police forces find it too big of a hassle to comply.  Just look at almost every case of abuses of search and seizure rules or of missing search warrants and you almost never see a time-based urgency that is often used as an excuse to end-around the rules.   What you almost always see is just, well, laziness.

Here is yet another example (bold added):

Now comes the news that the FBI intends to grant to its 14,000 agents expansive additional powers that include relaxing restrictions on a low-level category of investigations termed “assessments.” This allows FBI agents to investigate individuals using highly intrusive monitoring techniques, including infiltrating suspect organizations with confidential informants and photographing and tailing suspect individuals, without having any factual basis for suspecting them of wrongdoing. (Incredibly, during the four-month period running from December 2008 to March 2009, the FBI initiated close to 12,000 assessments of individuals and organizations, and that was before the rules were further relaxed.)

This latest relaxing of the rules, justified as a way to cut down on cumbersome record-keeping, will allow the FBI significant new powers to search law enforcement and private databases, go through household trash, and deploy surveillance teams, with even fewerchecks against abuse. The point, of course, is that if agents aren’t required to maintain a paper trail documenting their activities, there can be no way to hold the government accountable for subsequent abuses.

Freedom dies because we couldn't be bothered with all the work to protect it.

PS-  why is it no one wants to address any of the paperwork hassles in starting construction or opening a restaurant or getting a liquor license or starting a taxi service or any number of other private enterprises, but the government jumps right on the task of streamlining the work it takes to spy on me.


  1. marco73:

    Not having a paper trail is of course the most important feature for the FBI. Look at how embarrassed they were when they had to release the files on Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. Then the files on the 9/11 attackers were just shuffled off into oblivion inside a sclerotic bureaucracy, with no action taken. Next time there's some blame to be spread around, no paper trail will be a great excuse.

  2. blokeinfrance:

    Same here. I have a nasty feeling that as WE get more information on THEM we are seeing an arms race on intrusion.

  3. Fred Z:

    Civil wars are coming. You read it here first.

  4. Henry Bowman:

    These sorts of heinous acts will continue until such time as the states begin prosecuting Federal agents for illegal searches. The loathsome TSA is now beginning to search city and intercity buses, using its infamous groping methods. I understand that a couple of states (Texas and Michigan) are considering outlawing such methods, but I suspect that until such time as a large bloc of states does so, the TSA will use strong-arm methods (e.g., grounding interstate airline service) to fight back. The TSA has rapidly become one of the most monstrous government agencies, which is saying quite a bit.

  5. caseyboy:

    Fred Z, I do think we may see several states attempt to secede from the Union. They have made a mockery of the 10th Amendment by collecting all power to Washington DC. I think you'd have a better chance preserving the 4th Amendment's principles if the states had equal footing with the Fed's. Stanley, this is a fine mess you've gotten me into.

  6. John Moore:

    All of those powers are already available to police, and have long passed Constitutional muster.

    It may be alarming that the FBI is doing so much of this, but it does not eviscerate the fourth amendment in the slightest.