The Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Washington -- 9/11 indelibly altered America in ways that some now fear have put the government's counterterrorist strategies of domestic surveillance and data mining on a collision course with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and its protection of our civil liberties.
Invisibly, the country crossed a watershed in the shadow of the terrible assaults of 9/11. In their alarm over having been blindsided by the hijackers, the FBI, Justice Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency mounted an information-gathering stampede to try to discover hidden Al Qaeda cells in America.
"Most of us thought, based on the information at the time, that a so-called 'second-wave attack' was probably imminent," recalls Larry Mefford, assistant FBI director for counterterrorism from February 2002 to November 2003.
"There probably wasn't a week that went by that I wasn't informed of new information concerning associates of Al Qaeda or other radical extremist elements in the United States that we didn't know about the week before," Mefford explains. "That gives you a sense of the kind of insecurity we felt. The question I always asked is: What's out there that I don't yet know about?"
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