By: Rep. Ted Poe
It’s Tuesday morning. A citizen wakes up, writes emails and makes a phone call.
The person has a meeting soon, so he pulls up Google Maps to figure out a route.
He then hops into a cab, checks Facebook on his phone, texts his friend and plays ‘Candy Crush’ on his iPhone.
After the meeting he heads to the office, logs on to his computer and G-chats with a friend about where he plans to go for dinner that evening.
Later that evening, after dinner, he uploads a photo from dinner on Instagram. Throughout the day, the government was with him every step of the way.
Until last year, most Americans were unaware that their every move could be tracked by Big Brother.
Through the NSA, the government has the ability to read emails, texts, phone logs, track location and movements, snoop and collect information about individuals through smart phone apps, read g-chats and look at private photos.
The failure to disclose any of this information until recently is why Americans fear for their privacy. And they should. Big Government kept a big secret.
How did we get here? Over the years, technology has rapidly evolved and given power-hungry, unelected bureaucrats the capability to sift through data and find out more information than ever. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. But the ease of access to this information was too tempting for government. They snooped, and now we know.
The White House claims that the NSA has no interest in monitoring the activity of “ordinary” Americans. But, most Americans have a hard time accepting that. They question the truth in that statement for the simple fact that had Edward Snowden not revealed what was really going on within NSA in the first place; this snooping and spying would still be going on in the dark shadows of government operations. And, equally important, they know that this snooping and spying is still going on today.
Furthermore, NSA’s own internal watchdog revealed dozens of instances where employees misused their intelligence capabilities to spy on people, even ex-girlfriends. Why? Simply because they can.
The secret truth we are learning is that for years the NSA has quietly snooped and spied on millions of people without a warrant or justification to do so.
In my opinion, illegal activity has occurred. NSA argues that its employees only carry out the actions necessary to find terrorists and protect our country. They have even claimed that terrorist attacks have been prevented as a result of their actions.
If this is true, those success stories should be made public. At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, I asked Deputy Attorney General James Cole how many criminal cases have been filed as a result of this massive spying operation.
His answer? Maybe one. And he wasn’t even 100% sure of that.
That’s right, the NSA has launched one of the largest data collection programs in U.S. history that monitors who we call, how long we talk to them, who they called, and where our calls were made from, all in order to “maybe” catch one bad guy.
In any event, the ends do not justify the means. NSA has trampled on the Fourth Amendment rights of millions of Americans.
The Patriot Act permits targeted surveillance when that surveillance is justified by a court—it does not permit the intrusive activities brought to light by Snowden.
This old Soviet-style, dragnet approach -- casting a wide net in hopes of catching a big fish -- is not permitted under the law. It is also unconstitutional. It is similar to police searching homes in in an entire zip code looking for one outlaw.
No judge would permit this but t