The NSA spying revelations show that Congress and the president have decided that the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution (“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.”) can be ignored.
It appears that the Congress has now decided that the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees of a speedy trial (“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”) can also be ignored.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted again Thursday to allow the indefinite military detention of Americans, blocking an amendment that would have barred the possibility.
Congress wrote that authority into law in the National Defense Authorization Act two years ago, prompting outrage from civil libertarians on the left and right. President Barack Obama signed the measure, but insisted his administration would never use it.
Supporters of detention argue that the nation needs to be able to arrest and jail suspected terrorists without trial, including Americans on U.S. soil, for as long as there is a war on terror. Their argument won, and the measure was defeated by a vote of 200 to 226.
Who knew that the Constitution consisted of merely a bunch of suggestions that the executive and legislature could discard whenever they felt it was inconvenient?