No Warrant Needed

That’s the big headline at Drudge Report at the moment.

The funny thing is that no warrant was needed before.

And of course the link takes you to an article about “wiretaps.” There arent’ any “wiretaps in this program.

Look at this:

Over 1700 stories about wiretaps. I guess if we keep insisting that the surveilance program uses wiretaps we can continue to insist that warrants are necessary.

You may be asking, “What is RTO on about? Listening in on phone conversations is a wiretap.”

No. It isn’t.

A wiretap is just what the word describes, a tap on a copper wire somewhere in between the caller and the receiver in order to hear the call.

And that wire is someone’s private property. And that makes all the difference.

What the surveillance program does is electronic intercepts. It pulls signals out of the air and reads them. And anyone who’s listened to a debate on funding for the FCC, NPR or PBS know who owns the airwaves: the public.

The people as a whole own the electromagnetic spectrum and it’s administered by the peoples’ representative, the government.

And in tapping the public airwaves, there are no agrieved property owners. Consider for a moment what happens if you decide that it should be otherwise.

If a police officer overhears two miscreants in public planning a felony, he can use that information to stop them. Speaking out loud in public, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, the current controlling precedent for this issue (Katz v. US 389 U.S. 347 (1967)) . Yeah, these guys are stupid, but it’s an illustration.

The human voice is a signal broadcast into the air, same as a radio or a cell phone. Now the cop needs a warrant of the information he’s acting on is illegally obtained. The tree is poisoned and any fruit that might be harvested is similarly tainted.

Justice is rendered deaf, as well as blind.

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