By Paul Gable
A recent column by former Congressman Ron Paul called for an end to warrantless mass surveillance and a return of the 4th Amendment to American life.
As Paul pointed out, there is no terrorist exception in the 4th Amendment. Either probable cause exists to surveil someone, in which case warrantless surveillance wouldn’t be needed, or it does not.
We couldn’t agree more. Terrorism is no excuse to suspend the Constitution just as the alleged, but basically fictional, “Red Menace” was no excuse 100 years ago.
But, throughout history, Americans have allowed their government to suspend or break the law under the auspices of protecting us from some potentially overwhelming danger.
When J. Edgar Hoover was head of the FBI, he routinely didn’t bother with warrants when he wanted wiretaps and interception of mail. In Hoover’s case, he was often gathering potentially damaging information on someone he felt could threaten his power base, but the Red Menace was his normal excuse.
We once had a CIA director who said there are things the president is not cleared to know. If he didn’t feel the president was cleared to know them, you can bet the Congress didn’t have a clue what was happening.
But, Congress is getting ready to vote on the USA Freedom Act, which would extend expiring provisions of the Patriot Act allowing the government to continue its mass surveillance powers.
There is no reason to continue to suspend the Constitution with respect to the activities of the National Security Agency and its mass surveillance programs.
However, I guess we are fortunate that this time around NSA is trying to give some type of legal cover to itself. J. Edgar Hoover just ignored the Constitution when it suited him and he got away with it for 50 years.
Nevertheless, there is no patriotism in the Patriot Act and no freedom in the USA Freedom Act and its time our Congress stopped lying to the American people that there is.
“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Benjamin Franklin
Read Ron Paul column here: http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/