How deep does the surveillance state go? With continued revelations detailing extensive National Security Agency (NSA) spying on innocent Americans and promises of more to come, we have to ask ourselves: Does the Federal Government have any respect for our Fourth Amendment rights? Does our government think that the Constitution restrains their power at all? Many Americans, either ignorant of the government’s transgressions or succumbing to the false promise of safety, are just beginning to realize how much freedom we’ve lost.
On August 6th, President Barack Obama had the audacity to lie to the American people when he went on Jay Leno and said “We don’t have a domestic spying program.” There’s mounting evidence that not only has the NSA been collecting meta-data through the Prism program, but they have collected the content of our internet communications through a programs like XKeyscore and will track people “three hops” away from terror suspects.
Apologists for warrantless spying argue that our elected Representatives in Congress are privy to secret information not available to the public and can ensure that the NSA and other agencies do not violate our Fourth Amendment rights. Even if Congress did provide an acceptable level of oversight, the Executive Branch keeps Congress in the dark regarding many counter-terror and surveillance actions. How can we have a system of checks and balances when Congress is unwilling or unable to keep Presidential authority restrained?
Congress had an opportunity to make a small dent in illegal NSA surveillance with the Amash Amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill, but even that failed 205 – 217. Our own Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter, was among those who voted “No” because she does not believe in defunding illegal NSA programs and did not think it received enough floor debate. So much for being a champion of Civil Liberties. If we want real change, maybe we should abolish the NSA.
It’s so easy for government fear mongering to consume us. The surveillance state is fighting back and we risk falling back into the post-9/11 panic of sacrificing Constitutional liberties for the false promise of safety. Don’t be fooled: you are not safer in a police state. Maybe you don’t think we’re in a police state yet, but ask yourself; how much freedom are you willing to give up? At what point do you start fighting back?
“What do we want? Privacy! Why do we want it? None of your business!”
Chants like this roared from crowded streets this Independence Day as citizens demanded the restoration of the Fourth Amendment. When diverse groups of people ranging from die hard socialists, Greens, and Occupiers to hard core libertarians and TEA Partiers come together at the same rally, you know something interesting is happening. That’s exactly what happened on July 4th at the Restore the Fourth Rally in Rochester. Restore the Fourth rallies took place in dozens of cities across the nation to challenge warrantless spying on the American people.
At the Restore the Fourth Rally many local activists, including myself, gave rousing speeches on the importance of protecting Constitutional liberty. Video provided courtesy of Al Brundage at Rochester Indy media. Socialists, 9/12 Members, Green Party, Libertarians, Internet Freedom activists, and more set aside their differences for the day to join us in bringing an end to illegal NSA spying.
Not only are our Fourth Amendment rights in jeopardy, but all inalienable rights documented by the Constitution are in danger when a sovereign people fail to speak truth to power. That’s why I call upon Libertarians to embrace alliances in a new Civil Liberty coalition. Left and Right are coming together on many issues where the existing party structure no longer serves the people. Divided we will fail, but united we are powerful. As the infamous Edward Snowden himself said, “The Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.” We can no longer afford to let the establishment divide the liberty movement and dictate the destruction of our rights.
Dissent! Speak up while you still can!
Seize the moment before people slip back into complacency! Edmund Burke once said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” This is our moment. Don’t stand idly by while the torch of liberty fades.
This article originally appeared in the August edition of the Greater Rochester Libertarian Party Newsletter. It can be found at RochesterLP.net.