NSA Snooping an Attack on American Principles
By Marc Scaringi of Scaringi & Scaringi, P.C. on Thursday, October 31, 2013.
So the Obama Administration is listening in on the telephone conversations of the Chancellor of Germany. Let us not forget that President Obama is not only monitoring Angela Merkel’s telephone calls, but he is monitoring the communication records of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
While Chancellor Merkel is justly angry, the American people should be incensed.
President Obama’s massive surveillance state – and its illegal spying on hundreds of thousands of Americans – is so tyrannical it would stir the souls of our Founding Fathers. Our founders fought a long and bloody war to secure our right against unreasonable searches and seizures, which is enshrined in our 4th Amendment.
Under President Obama, the National Security Agency is leading one of the largest and most comprehensive attacks on the 4th Amendment rights of the American people in our history. Thanks to the heroic work of Edward Snowden, the federal government has been exposed and its massive domestic spying operation has been revealed.
We now know the NSA has seized the telephone, Internet and Facebook records of hundreds of millions of innocent, law-abiding Americans. The NSA is tracking who we are talking to on our telephones and what websites we are searching on the Internet. The NSA is seizing and storing our e-mails and our live chats on Facebook and on Skype.
When asked whether the NSA is collecting this data on American citizens, the government official overseeing the NSA lied.
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, testified before Congress under oath that the NSA is not collecting any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans. When that sworn statement was later revealed to be untrue, Director Clapper apologized and said, "I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner."
How discouraging that the bureaucrat whom we employ and who took an oath to protect and defend our Constitutional rights explains himself to us in the "least untruthful manner."
Those who run or represent the NSA have not only lied to Congress, they have lied to the FISA Court, which was created to oversee domestic spying operations and protect the public.
The Obama Administration recently released documents from the FISA Court accusing President Obama’s NSA of repeatedly failing to comply with the rules set up to protect privacy rights. The Court also accused Department of Justice attorneys who sought general search warrants of misrepresenting to the Court that the NSA was only spying on American citizens connected to foreign terrorism suspects.
In truth, the NSA is conducting massive dragnets and spying on tens of millions of innocent Americans. The FISA Court even goes so far as to cite the criminal statute it believes President Obama’s NSA may have violated.
Despite the FISA Court’s strong rebuke, President Obama’s Department of Justice has not conducted any internal investigation of its own lawyers. Over the summer, the NSA revealed that according to its own audit, its agents violated our privacy rights over 3,000 times last year alone. Recent reports indicate several NSA employees and contractors were caught spying on their spouses or paramours. The Obama Administration – as administrations have done in the past – has argued this domestic spying operation is necessary in the interest of "national security."
Some of the worst abuses of our rights occur in the name of "national security."
Recall our Founding Father James Madison, the author of the 4th Amendment, who wrote, "Perhaps it is a universal truth that loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad." Madison’s lament should serve as a constant reminder that whenever you hear a politician say he is acting in the interest of "national security" grab your Constitution and hold on tightly because you and it are about to be ravaged.
More than 30 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Payton v. New York that "indiscriminate searches and seizures conducted under the authority of ‘general warrants’ were the immediate evils that motivated the framing and adoption of the Fourth Amendment."
It is time to heed the warnings of our Founding Fathers and the Supreme Court. It is time for Congress to abolish the secret FISA Court it created and require the NSA or any agency seeking a warrant to go into federal court and argue on the record why probable cause exists to believe an individual has committed a crime.
How ironic that it was the German Chancellor who reminded our President of the importance of the right to privacy, when it was German Hessian troops who were deployed by King George III to help suppress the rebellion that gave birth to the American Republic.
The invasion by the British monarch into the privacy of countless American colonists served as a motivating factor for our own War for Independence. Yet our political leaders today, when confronted with the revelation of the existence of a domestic spying operation that dwarfs anything King George dreamed of, is met with yawns, head scratching and mindless statements about the importance of "national security."
How sad it is when we forget how and why we became Americans.
Marc A. Scaringi is a Harrisburg attorney and former candidate for the Republican nomination to the US Senate in 2012. Mr. Scaringi, the managing shareholder for Scaringi & Scaringi P.C.(www.scaringilaw.com), can be reached at [email protected]