WASHINGTON, October 29 -
“The administration puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. No more illegal wiretapping of citizens, no more ignoring the law when it is convenient – that is not who we are. That is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers and that justice is not arbitrary. This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our own security. It is not.”
Mr. Speaker, those were the words of Senator Barack Obama in 2007.
That was then. This is now.
The NSA, the National Spy Agency, as I call it, is continuing its stealth intrusion into the lives of not only Americans but of foreign leaders as well, whom Senator Obama once talked about. The NSA has been caught eavesdropping on the Germans, the French, and now new reports say 60 million phone calls in Spain were monitored by the NSA.
A bit more history about the NSA and its spying:
The Department of Justice stealthily seized information from 20 different Associated Press phone lines, including some in the U.S. Capitol – right up there. The Department of Justice stealthily seized phone records of Fox News reporter James Rosen, of his parents and of several Fox News phone lines. In the month of January 2013 alone, 125 billion phone calls were monitored worldwide, and at least 3 billion of them were phone calls in America.
The NSA stealthily seized from Verizon Business Network Services millions of telephone lines, including the locations, numbers and times of domestic calls. A secret government program called PRISM allowed the NSA to search photos, emails and documents from computers at Apple, Google, and Microsoft, among many other Internet sources.
NSA and the Snoop and Spy Caucus say this spying on Americans and our allies is necessary to catch the terrorists. They even claim terrorist attacks have been prevented. If this is true, show the evidence. Prove it. Where are the terrorists who supposedly have been thwarted by these surveillance tendencies?
Even if it is true, which I doubt, it still violates the law. In my opinion, it violates the PATRIOT Act. The PATRIOT Act doesn’t allow for this nonsense. It violates the constitutional right of privacy, Mr. Speaker. It violates the Fourth Amendment and the right of persons to be secure in their homes, papers and effects without government intrusion. Government cannot use the old Soviet-style, dragnet approach, hoping to catch a big fish while also catching the endangered species of freedom.
Those who argue otherwise say they must size the whole haystack to find the needle in the haystack. Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what is prevented in the Fourth Amendment. I would like to quote 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.”
The Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits government from seizing the whole haystack to find one needle.
Mr. Speaker, the American people have lost trust in government. It is time for Congress to intervene to prevent the invasion of privacy by government against the citizens. The Federal Government must stop redlining the Fourth Amendment.
According to an administration official, the President did not sign off on this stuff, and was unaware of the depth of the surveillance of foreign leaders.
Who did sign off?
Mr. Speaker, is there a shadow government in America that operates outside the law, outside the knowledge of the administration?
Sort of spooky, isn’t it, Mr. Speaker?
Technology may change, but the Constitution does not. We can have security but not at the cost of losing individual freedom because, to quote the constitutional law professor:
“There should be no choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide.”
And that’s just the way it is.