The Fourth Amendment is weaker than it was 50 years ago, and this should worry everyone. “Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government,” Justice Robert H. Jackson, the former chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, wrote in 1949. “Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart.” 1
Soon after the tragic incident, the USA Patriot Act and Presidential orders were issued to facilitate law enforcement activities to deal with terrorism. The US Patriot Act was signed about six weeks after the 2011 tragedy. Americans never had the chance to examine the document thoroughly. Congress did not have enough time to debate over the ramifications over the citizen’s lives. In reality, Americans waived significant part of their privacy on behalf of safety. At the time, the threat of repeated terrorism was very real in the minds of the citizens.
Obviously, the Fourth Amendment private protection continues to wane. Global risk to terrorism is still there. The government continued to press for more security at the expense of personal liberty and personal privacy protection. The expansion of governmental powers clearly reduced the Fourth Amendment protection to the lowest since the inception of the federal government in 1897.
In the wake of Terrorist bombings in July 2005 on public transportations of Madrid, Spain, and London, England and without any basis of reasonable suspicion or probable cause, New York City immediately began mass searches of baggage, luggage and personal belongings of passengers on the subway system. 2 Transit officials in Washington announced they were considering random searches of trains, and members of the United States House of Representatives extended the Patriot Act. 3The sense of insecurity increased without any credible threat of terrorist violence.
“Undoubtedly such measures may also lead to abuses such as racial or ethnic profiling and unguided discretion by the individual conducting the search.”4 Indiscriminant searches of baggage, luggage and personal belonging have certainly weakened the privacy protection of the Fourth Amendment. As a matter of fact, one recent court decision asserted that civil liberties will not be restricted until the war on terror is over; the trouble is the war on terror may never be over as the fight against violent crime will always be there. 5 There is no definite foreseeable future for ending the war on terror. In the context of the terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorism, the national government continues to trespass the boundary of privacy. Using new technological advances, the government is able to be omnipresent in people’s lives. The government continues to trespass into citizen’s lives and without any judicially sanctioned warrant, supported by the probable cause in the name of national security against terrorism.
The government’s interception of international telephone and internet communications of certain