Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein. John Dillinger. Bonnie and Clyde. These terrorists, mass murderers, bank robbers and professional criminals at one point in our nation’s history were Public Enemy No. 1.
The Obama administration has added more and more names and now, finally, the American people are all on the wanted list.
In direct violation of the Fourth Amendment, which requires individualized warrants, “probable cause ... and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,” the NSA collects Americans’ telephone data and stores it. Ordinary citizens are now Public Enemy No. 1. Domestic spying. Massive data collection. Turning a blind eye to the Fourth Amendment.
Are these the hallmarks of a free society or are they exactly what George Orwell described in his dystopian novel 1984? Rather than targeting would-be terrorists, millions of innocent Americans suspected of nothing illegal have their private digital interactions collected and used by their own government. Big brother is watching you.
As a conservative, I strongly believe that providing for the national defense is one of the primary responsibilities of our federal government. I am also keenly aware that we as Americans must deal with the threat of future terrorism.
But spying on hundreds of millions of Americans, from innocent grandmothers to high school students, under blanket surveillance is contrary to core American values.
That is why I will introduce legislation preventing the federal government from forcing or coercing companies into providing the public’s online passwords, unless a specific warrant is obtained for a specific individual or specific group, each of which must be the subject of a relevant investigation. No blanket authority.
Not long ago, an effort in the House of Representatives was started to block the NSA’s domestic spying program and to re-establish core constitutional protections.
I voted in favor of the amendment, introduced by Reps. Justin Amash (MI-03) and John Conyers (MI-13), that would block the NSA’s indiscriminate collection of Americans’ telephone records.
But when Congress had a chance to stand up for Americans’ privacy, many refused and instead, desperately sought to continue spying on innocent citizens.
Well, I reject the strategy of President Obama, who believes staying safe from terrorism requires we obliterate the Constitution.
Sure the government has the technological capability to track almost everything about our lives, and we recently learned that they indeed can. The question remains, however, does the government have the legal authority? According to the Constitution, the answer is no.
A recent poll showed 74 percent of Americans believe the NSA is violating privacy rights. I agree.
Yet, there are some who might attack or mischaracterize the positions of constitutional conservatives like myself, Senator Rand Paul and my colleague Rep. Justin Amash for believing government does not have the right to spy on all Americans simply because it can. These attacks are misguided and uncalled for. I will continue fighting to make sure that being safer from terrorism does not come at the cost of our liberty or the further erosion of the constitutional principles upon which this great country was founded.
Congressman Gosar is a Republican from Arizona’s 4th Congressional District and on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.