Civil libertarians are all a-twitter today because the Obama Justice Department argued that it was fine for the FBI to check cell phone records to look for common numbers placed at the time and location of a string of bank robberies.
The arguments against this are silly. This was great police work—and no different than checking security camera videos at the bank for common faces.
The government argument that is getting all the attention is this:
"Warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no 'reasonable expectation of privacy' whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that 'a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records' that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.
"Despite the Obama administration's assertion, I somehow doubt the signers of the Constitution would have agreed there is "no reasonable expectation of privacy."
Well, you can read the Constitution all day, and never find the word "privacy." You will find restrictions on "search and seizure" of your person or property. Your whereabouts are obviously not a matter of 4th Amendment protection.
If they were, law enforcement would need a warrant all surveillance, even following a suspect in public. If your whereabouts are Constitutionally protected, then law enforcement becomes impossible.
However, the Obama Administration should be smacked down for gross hypocrisy here. But we should use this opportunity to use their own words to urge greater vigilance in combating terrorism. This is an Administration that is extending Constitutional rights to foreign illegal combatants—who should not even be granted Geneva Convention protections.
For instance, it is hypocritical that Obama prefers Predator strikes to waterboarding, then claims a humanitarian high ground. Our argument should NOT be that Predator strikes should stop!
When the Obama Administration does something right, we should use the argument to get them to do other things right—not counterproductively smack them with their own liberal argument and pile on the ACLU bandwagon, just for the sake of making a political "gotcha" point.