Last week we saw dramatic new evidence of illegal government surveillance of our telephone calls, and of the National Security Agency’s deep penetration into American companies such as Facebook and Microsoft to spy on us. The media seemed shocked.
Many of us are not so surprised.
Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with the introduction of the so-called PATRIOT Act that it would pave the way for massive U.S. government surveillance — not targeting terrorists but rather aimed against American citizens. We were told we must accept this temporary measure to provide government the tools to catch those responsible for 9/11. That was nearly 12 years and at least four wars ago.
We should know by now that when it comes to government power-grabs, we never go back to the status quo even when the “crisis” has passed. That part of our freedom and civil liberties once lost is never regained. How many times did the PATRIOT Act need to be renewed? How many times did FISA authority need to be expanded? Why did we have to pass a law to grant immunity to companies who hand over our personal information to the government?
It was all a buildup of the government’s capacity to monitor us.
The reaction of some in Congress and the administration to last week’s leak was predictable. Knee-jerk defender of the police state Sen. Lindsey Graham declared that he was “glad” the government was collecting Verizon phone records — including his own — because the government needs to know what the enemy is up to. Those who take an oath to defend the Constitution from its enemies both foreign and domestic should worry about such statements.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers tells us of the tremendous benefits of this Big Brother–like program. He promises us that domestic terrorism plots were thwarted, but he cannot tell us about them because they are classified. I am a bit skeptical, however.
This post was modified from its original form on 15 Jun, 11:47
In April, the New York Times reported that most of these domestic plots were actually elaborate sting operations developed and pushed by the FBI. According to the Timesreport, “of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.”
Even if Chairman Rogers is right, though, and the program caught someone up to no good, we have to ask ourselves whether even such a result justifies trashing the Constitution. Here is what I said on the floor of the House when the PATRIOT Act was up for renewal back in 2011:
If you want to be perfectly safe from child abuse and wife beating, the government could put a camera in every one of our houses and our bedrooms, and maybe there would be somebody made safer this way, but what would you be giving up? Perfect safety is not the purpose of government. What we want from government is to enforce the law to protect our liberties.
What most undermines the claims of the administration and its defenders about this surveillance program is the process itself. First, the government listens in on all of our telephone calls without a warrant, and then, if it finds something, it goes to a FISA court and gets an illegal approval for what it has already done! This turns the rule of law and due process on its head.
The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing. We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government, not the other way around. We should be thankful for writers like Glenn Greenwald, who broke last week’s story, for taking risks to let us know what the government is doing. There are calls for the prosecution of Greenwald and the other whistleblowers and reporters. They should be defended, as their work defends our freedom.
Like was said,there needs to be enough of an outcry from the public,loud and aggressive enough so that they can not ignore it.They will do as much and push as far as they can get away with.Osama-obama is a constitutional lawyer , so this mofo knows exactly what he is doing.
It appears way too many of the public is brainwashed that this is in our best interest for safety.
I know many are concerned but not enough. There needs to public outrage and I still don't hear it yet.
...until you do hear it,the govt will keep pushing the limits.If I have to give up my privacy and my freedoms to be "safe",I would rather they just put a bullet through my head now,because I refuse to live like that.
LIVE QUESTION AND ANSWERS TODAY VIA UK GUARDIAN WITH SNOWDEN
People don't understand how much power this is. Elements within the government or the private firms the government has authorized to review these communications can use information for blackmail people, they can front run Wall Street transactions for giant profits. So......they can enrich themselves and ruin those that oppose their agenda. The list of abuses is endless. And the government or its agents wouldn't do such things doesn't cut it with me or anyone else that is paying attention.
There is also the question of why should I, and others pay for this? The government takes money from us by force to fund spying on us ???? And somehow the bad guys are the ones that tell us what's going on??? ...What?
Yeah, there are some out there that say Snowden is a traitor. Same bunch isn't saying much about all the trashing of the 4th Amendment that the government is doing. Seems to me that the traitors are the ones that are violating our human rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution. The Constitution they have sworn to defend. Somehow the guy that let us know it the traitor??? Really? Funny that an excuse that a person swore an oath not to expose a crime is not considered to be a legal defense. This is indeed one of the many examples of agents of the State being immune from prosecution and above the law. >
Some equal justice, no?
Too many people are willing to forfeit their privacy rights guaranteed by our Constitution in the name of terrorism.
This program did not capture the Boston Bombers, the NYC time square bomber, etc.
It was the public. The Boston FBI did not recognize those Tsarvanov brothers from videos even though they went to their apt. to interview them. The surveillance system did not work here and Russian and Saudi Arabia called FBI about this guy too.
That is because the govt is who propagated those.
.....they want to scare everyone,so that people will act on emotion rather than reason,and cry to the govt to protect them.Then they will gladly forfieit their constitutional rights for "safety".
The stranger in the oral office's true motto
This post was modified from its original form on 19 Jun, 12:08