After Edward Snowden broke the story that the NSA was spying on every single American Citizen, it almost seemed like “we the people” started to care …
It almost seemed like “we the people” were pissed about the Government’s gross violation of the American people’s natural (and constitutionally protected) rights to privacy …
Then, it just kind of faded away.
Edward Snowden is still a man without a country and can’t return home to the USA without fear of being imprisoned (or maybe even killed).
The whistleblower suffered for leaking this important information, but did the government?
Is your privacy at thing of the past? Maybe not, if guys like Rand Paul have anything to say about it.
Here’s the story …
May 2015, an important month for your privacy and liberty
In case you have not been following what’s been going on this month with the PATRIOT act, I’ll let the good Judge Andrew Napolitano explain …
“A decision last week about National Security Agency spying by a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals in New York City sent shock waves through the government. The court ruled that a section of the Patriot Act that is due to expire at the end of this month and on which the government has relied as a basis for its bulk acquisition of telephone data during the past 14 years does not authorize that acquisition.
This may sound like legal mumbo jumbo, but it goes to the heart of the relationship between the people and their government in a free society. Here is the backstory and the latest.
The Patriot Act is the centerpiece of the federal government’s false claims that by surrendering our personal liberties, it can somehow keep us safe. The liberty-for-safety offer has been around for millennia and was poignant at the time of the founding of the American republic.
The Framers addressed it in the Constitution itself, where they recognized the primacy of the right to privacy and insured against its violation by intentionally forcing the government to jump through some difficult hoops before it can capture our thoughts, words or private behavior.
Those hoops are the requirement of a search warrant issued by a judge and based on evidence — called probable cause — demonstrating that it is more likely than not that the government will find what it is looking for from the person or place it is targeting. Only then may a judge issue a warrant, which must specifically describe the place to be searched or specifically identify the person or thing to be seized.
None of this is new. It has been at the core of our system of government since the 1790s. It is embodied in the Fourth Amendment, which is at the heart of the Bill of Rights. It is quintessentially American.
The Patriot Act has purported to do away with the search warrant requirement by employing language so intentionally vague that the government can interpret it as it wishes. Add to this the secret venue for this interpretation — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to which the Patriot Act directs that NSA applications for authority to spy on Americans are to be made — and you have the totalitarian stew we have been force-fed since October 2001.
Because the FISA court meets in secret, Americans did not know that the feds were spying on all of us all the time and relying on their own unnatural reading of words in the Patriot Act to justify it — until Edward Snowden spilled the beans on his former employer nearly two years ago.
The feds argued to the secret court that they were entitled to any phone call data they wanted — usually sought by area code or ZIP code or the customer base of telecom service providers — so long as they claimed to need it to search for communications about terror-related activities, and they claimed they needed everyone’s records, and they claimed the Patriot Act authorized this.
The secret court bought those claims and — fast-forward to today — the feds now have immediate access to our phone calls in real time. They can turn on our cellphones in our pockets and purses and use them as listening devices without us knowing it, and they have physical access to all telephone carriers’ equipment whenever they wish, which today is 24/7.
Some members of Congress reject this. Foremost among the outraged in the Senate is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It is none of the government’s business, he argues, what we say on our phone calls. If the NSA wants to hear us, let them present probable cause to a judge identifying the person they want to hear and seek a search warrant. Mr. Paul’s is a genuine outrage from the only voice among those running for president who is faithful to the Constitution.
Other senators, foremost among them Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also running for president, are pretending outrage by offering a Band-Aid to replace the Patriot Act called the Freedom Act. The Freedom Act gets the NSA physically out of the telecoms’ offices, but lets them come back in digitally whenever one of these secret FISA courts says so, and the standard for saying so is not probable cause as the Constitution requires. It is whatever the government wants and whenever it wants it.
The so-called Freedom Act would actually legitimize all spying all the time on all of us in ways that the Patriot Act fails to do. It is no protection of privacy; it is no protection of constitutional liberty. It unleashes American spies on innocent Americans in utter disregard of the Fourth Amendment.
Earlier this week, Mr. Paul announced that he feels so strongly about the right to be left alone, and takes so seriously his oath to uphold the Constitution, and believes so certainly that our phone calls are none of the government’s business that he plans to filibuster all attempts to permit this to continue. For that alone, he is a hero to the Constitution. Perhaps his friend Mr. Cruz will return to his constitutional roots and join him.
How do we know that the Freedom Act is a Band-Aid only?
Because the NSA supports it.”
Why the PATRIOT act should be repealed …
Even the courts are now agreeing that the PATRIOT act is illegal.
Is it or was it ever even necessary?
In a word. No.
As the good judge Napolitano pointed out this debate has been around since the founding of America. The first American put it this way:
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
–Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Rand Paul spent 10+ hours filibustering for you against the PATRIOT act last night. Do you even care?
Earlier on May 20, 2015, Rand Paul’s office told reporters that holding the floor past midnight — his planned filibuster — would prevent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from filing cloture on the Patriot Act and related bills…
By the way, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already put forth a new bill as a “stop-gap measure” to allow time for a fuller debate on the issue. What was this stop-gap? Simply a 5 year re-authorization with no changes to the current PATRIOT act.
That’s business as usual in the Senate — which is why a lot of things never change — they know bills are going to expire for years, wait till the last minute, then claim there’s no time to debate them — so they get extended for a time period …
It’s one of the reasons that power given to the state is almost NEVER given back.
That was Rand Paul’s reasoning for holding the floor for so long, to prevent that tactic from being employed before the Senate left before holiday …
What can you do?
Well, it’s a step in the right direction …
According to The Hill, “… Key parts of the Patriot Act are not set to expire until the end of the month, The National Security Agency (NSA) will begin winding down a controversial program run under that law this week, according to the Justice Department.”
I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the Government to restrain itself though …
Do two things:
1. Support guys like Rand Paul when they stand up for you and your rights. I’m not saying “Rand Paul for President” (yet) … but I am saying #StandWithRand and anyone else who stands up for constitutional liberty in Washington …
2. Take your privacy into your own hands. Do all you can to make it at least “hard work” for the Government if they want to snoop on you. Be careful what you put online.