Senators Call for Halting Unconstitutional NSA Spying on Americans

NSA spyingIn their cogent op-ed,
the NSA Dragnet, Now
” in the New York Times today,
Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Mark Udall (D-Colo), and Martin
Heinrich (D-N.M.) argue in opposition to an authoritarian bill
proposed by the Senate Intelligence Committee that would
actually ratif
y the power of the National Security Agency to
spy on Americans. To their great credit, the three senators have

proposed legislation
that would go a long way toward restoring
American’s Fourth Amendment privacy protections against NSA
surveillance. From the op-ed:

THE framers of the Constitution declared that government
officials had no power to seize the records of individual Americans
without evidence of wrongdoing, and they embedded this principle in
the Fourth Amendment. The bulk collection of Americans’ telephone
records — so-called metadata — by the National
Security Agency
is, in our view, a clear case of a general
warrant that violates the spirit of the framers’ intentions. This
intrusive program was authorized under a secret legal process by
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so for years American
citizens did not have the knowledge needed to challenge the
infringement of their privacy rights.

Our first priority is to keep Americans safe from the threat of
terrorism. If government agencies identify a suspected terrorist,
they should absolutely go to the relevant phone companies to get
that person’s phone records. But this can be done without
collecting the records of millions of law-abiding Americans. We
recall Benjamin Franklin’s famous admonition that those who would
give up essential liberty in the pursuit of temporary safety will
lose both and deserve neither.

The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly
exaggerated. We have yet to see any proof that it provides real,
unique value in protecting national security. In spite of our
repeated requests, the N.S.A. has not provided evidence of any
instance when the agency used this program to review phone records
that could not have been obtained using a regular court order or
emergency authorization.

Despite this, the surveillance reform bill recently ratified by
the Senate Intelligence Committee would explicitly permit the
government to engage in dragnet collection as long as there were
rules about when officials could look at these phone records. It
would also give intelligence agencies wide latitude to conduct
warrantless searches for Americans’ phone calls and emails.

This is not the true reform that poll after poll has shown the
American people want. It is preserving business as usual. When the
Bill of Rights was adopted, it established that Americans’ papers
and effects should be seized only when there was specific evidence
of suspicious activity. It did not permit government agencies to
issue general warrants as long as records seized were reviewed with
the permission of senior officials.

to Edward Snowden
, Americans now know that the NSA and other
federal police and spy agencies were in the process of constructing
what could easily have evolved into what former NSA cryptanalyst
William Binney described as a “turnkey
totalitarian state

The time to stop it is now. Readers who are so moved can make
their concerns known by contacting their
members of Congress and the Senate.

The whole New York Times op-ed is well worth

See also’s “What We Saw at the Anti-NSA ‘Stop Watching
Us’ Rally” in Washington, DC below:

from Hit & Run

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