Homeland Security Chief Admits He Doesn't Understand 4th Amendment

Rand Paul grills DHS head into admission law is 'beyond my competence'
by Steve Watson

Apr. 30, 2015

During a hearing Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson admitted Wednesday that he doesn’t know or understand the laws covered by the Fourth Amendment.

Johnson was appearing at a Senate gathering on the government's surveillance capabilities and authority, specifically regarding obtaining records from telephone companies without a warrant.

When Kentucky Senator Rand Paul began grilling Johnson, asking him whether those practices are lawful under the Fourth Amendment, which covers searches and seizures, Johnson effectively pleaded ignorance.

When Paul asked Johnson if he believes the Fourth Amendment "applies to third party records," Johnson said that it is "beyond my competence as secretary of homeland security" to answer the question.

This is a significant problem, given that Johnson is in charge of a government agency that has been granted an extremely broad authority to issue warrants without showing probable cause before a judge.

The DHS has taken it upon itself to invade the privacy and property rights of Americans using judge-less warrants labeled as "administrative subpoenas" by the feds.

"Here's the problem, though, your agency is in charge of cooperating and being part of this," Paul said. "And that's the whole debate we have in our country is whether over we should do this.”

Johnson had earlier argued that it was a hindrance to DHS that Tech companies have taken it upon themselves to encrypt their records, in order to prevent unlawful searches.

Paul noted in response that the companies are within their right to do this because they know the "over-zealous" government is seizing records at will, and it has no "sense of decency toward privacy."

"That's why we're mad, and that's why people are attempting to encrypt information is to prevent the government from doing illegal searches of our records," Paul added.

"I would propose that there is no person named Verizon,” said Paul, adding “you do not have an individualized warrant under the Fourth Amendment when to say to Mr. Verizon we want hundreds of millions of records.”

“And this is a debate, and it's an important one.” the presidential candidate added.

“And if we're going to complain about encryption, and we're going to complain about individuals wanting privacy, we really need to have a thorough discussion of the Fourth Amendment and the complaints by many of us that you're doing something without a warrant."

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