Ralph Lopez is the author of Truth in the Age of Bushism
We know you are reading this, because now it's your job to read and hear everything, private, not-private, personal, that could keep the Bush administration in power, keeps it from being impeached or brought up on war crimes charges, keeps its Halliburton/Kellogg Root Brown agenda on track (I wonder who gets to rebuild Iran for cost-plus-any-profit-you-dream-of, after we commit genocide with nukes as it looks we are about to do?) You hand up the info to your bosses, who hand it up to their bosses, who decide how it can best be used. In flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. But you are still American officers, some of you. Never forget that.
Freedom from warrantless searches was a hard-won right. Its origin was our Founder's contempt for the British "general warrant," which said that agents of the crown could search any home, open any mail, go through any personal belongings on a whim. It was one of the main causes of the rebellion. The forms of mail and communications have changed, to cellphone and Internet, but the principle of privacy is exactly the same. No search without cause, stated to a judge, either before or after the fact. George Bush just swept up all our communications even before 9/11 and said F- all y'all.
Ever wonder what happened to those guys who declared these rights for us? What price they paid? Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence:
-Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
-Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
-Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
-Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
-Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
-Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him.
-Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
-Legend has it when Thomas Nelson Jr was told the British General Cornwallis had taken over his home for British headquarters, he replied, "Blow the damn thing down." Nelson's house is still standing at Yorktown and there are cannonballs embedded in its east wall.
-Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
-John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.
That rank you wear was granted only after you swore a sacred oath, which made you the guardian of what these men fought for:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."