Feeds

Federal judge slams Patriot Act

Feds push for new, zestier Fourth Amendment

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A federal judge today struck down provisions of the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, adding fuel to the politically charged debate over the controversial law.

US District Judge Ann Aiken slammed Patriot Act amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for eviscerating the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects against unwarranted government searches, and can only be modified by further constitutional amendment.

Judge Ann Aiken ruled that FISA "permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment".

"For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised."

The case was brought by Brandon Mayfield, a Portland attorney whose life was turned upside down by the feds after he was mistakenly fingered by the FBI for involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Mayfield settled for $2m, but retained the right to challenge the Patriot Act in court.

Judge Aiken dismissed the government's arguments with extreme prejudice, accusing the US attorney general's office of "asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so".

Mayfield accused the FBI of violating the 4th Amendment by conducting warrantless searches of his home and office. We suspect certain Orwellian elements on the American right have always wanted to do away with that particular inconvenient part of the Constitution. Terrorism paranoia has provided the perfect storm of hysteria needed to wash away such ancient and fundamental rights as habeas corpus, or the right against self-incrimination - the Patriot Act assault on the Fourth Amendment is only part of a broader effort.

The Cheney Administration has an insatiable hard-on for this particular brand of proto-totalitarianism, and will no doubt appeal the ruling. ®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.