As late as Thursday night, establishment Republican leaders are still eager to defend government surveillance of U.S. citizens even two years after Edward Snowden exposed illegal, domestic snooping of U.S. citizens. This establishment is using typical Washington double-talk, false choices and games to try to bamboozle Americans into accepting abuses and domestic spying by the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Government’s invasion of your privacy was a topic in Thursday’s two crowded debates among the 17 candidates for the Republican nomination for president. Looking beyond the focus on Donald Trump and “theatre of the absurd” reviews of “The Donald’s” Twitter messages, the national security of the country and how to provide for the common defense did eventually become a serious topic. There was strong condemnation all around of President Obama’s failed diplomacy with Iran and the role of China and Russia in hacking of U.S. government computers.
But, clearly, the right question on security is how to protect the country in the “right way” according to the Constitution, not choosing between government intrusion and insecurity. As I have argued in court more than once against NSA surveillance – against which I got a federal judge to order a preliminary injunction, which the government has appealed – the dragnet, warrantless wire-tapping and Internet snooping of Americans is not merely illegal and unnecessary; it is actually harmful to our national security. Interested readers can actually listen to my argument in the lawsuit Klayman v. Obama, challenging NSA surveillance before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Indiscriminate collection of data on innocent Americans creates an enormous haystack in which the U.S. government cannot find a needle. The NSA failed to detect the Tsarnaev brothers’ plan to bomb the Boston Marathon even after being tipped off by Russia, the plot to attack Pamela Gellar’s event in Garland, Texas, or any of other, similar attacks.
That is not only wrong but exactly the wrong way to go. This is the high-tech version of patting down grandmothers and babies in airport screening while waving through single, Islamic young men on one-way tickets, with no luggage.
But the Washington establishment wants to fool the American people with a false choice: Either we invade all of your privacy and harvest private data about your personal lives or we won’t defend the country against terrorism. The establishment’s position is a typical gimmick: Either you let us do whatever we want or the terrorists will kill you. Setting up false choices is one way the political class deceives and enslaves the people.
There were testy exchanges in Thursday’s debate over the government’s desire to violate our constitutional rights in order to fight terrorism. Sen. Rand Paul pronounced: “I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans.”
This caused Gov. Chris Christie to sputter, “Megyn, that’s a – that, you know, that’s a completely ridiculous answer. ‘I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from other people.’ How are you supposed to know, Megyn?” This reveals the core disagreement.
I was then appalled to see my senator from Florida Marco Rubio jump on the establishment bandwagon and argue that there has never been any abuse of the data collected. Rubio is lying, because we know there have been abuses, and Rubio must surely know it. If not, he is not fit to be president, as his lack of knowledge would be more than troubling. Even the NSA’s own in house inspector general documented over 2,000 violations of government bureaucrats misusing the data. And that was just in a short period of months. Snowden’s and other disclosures show NSA contractors using these capabilities to stalk ex-girlfriends and women they find “hot.” As creepy as that sounds, that is nothing compared to the more sinister corruption of our national politics.
Chris Christie, Sens. Mitch McConnell, John McCain and most of the Republican leadership argue that the government has to collect everyone’s private information in order to catch terrorists. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted a debate on Feb. 27, 2015, in which former director of the NSA Michael Hayden even tried to convince conservatives that indiscriminate surveillance of Americans is really a wonderful thing. Of course, Hayden has reason to say this. He was part of a criminal enterprise to compromise the rights of nearly all Americans and could potentially be prosecuted, that is if we had a Justice Department that represented the people and not the politicians and their lackeys, like Hayden, in Washington, D.C.
Paul retorted to Christie: “Use the Fourth Amendment!” and pointed out that Christie got a warrant from a judge when Christie was a prosecutor. Paul failed to clarify the most important point: Surveillance should target those likely to be involved in terrorism, about whom we have probable cause. Snooping on innocent people on the off-chance that we might stumble across something will not work. That would require a police state of thousands of inspectors to sift through mountains of data.
On the other hand, it is easy to choose a target of political interest and pull all the private data about an individual, like U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. It is easy to silence opposition and discredit critics. Another whistleblower, Dennis Montgomery, claims that the reality is even worse than revealed by Edward Snowden. It appears likely that the government has influenced and intimidated judges, public officials and others. If critics of the-powers-that-be worry that their private indiscretions could potentially be harvested and brought to light, will they grow afraid to stand up against the government and other nefarious interests? Just the knowledge that nothing is truly private would likely cow the “loyal opposition” into silence.
We must remember: George Orwell’s book “1984” was a stark warning, not a “how to” manual. It is hard to believe that even after Orwell’s clarion call of “Big Brother,” there are those rushing to fulfill his dystopian predictions of a smothering police state. Why? Because the Republican and Democratic establishments have nearly destroyed the nation with their political hackery, dishonest games, corruption and complete incompetence and need to make sure that We the People do not rise up and remove them from office and, in the cases of Gov. Christie, Sen. Rubio and their ilk, thwart their aspirations of absolute power over us to be elected president of the United States, as horrifically revealed during Thursday’s Fox debate.