A federal judge ruled on Dec. 16 that the National Security Agency’s collection of the cell phone metadata of millions of Americans might be a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
President Barack Obama was handed a number of proposals on Wednesday for reigning in the NSA’s more invasive programs. What he does with those recommendations is anyone’s guess, but the reality is that curbing the activities of such a large, secretive government agency is no easy task, even for someone with a better leadership record than Obama.
That doesn’t excuse inaction, which is likely what we’ll get.
The revelation of the NSA programs has threatened the government’s control and surveillance of its citizens, in a small way, and it’s not likely to give up any of that power any time soon.
The term “civil liberties” has become a misnomer in this country, a victim of the fear and submissiveness created by words like “terrorism” and “national security” and the knee-jerk reaction of the passage of the Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The Bill of Rights has been trampled and spat upon relentlessly under the guise of protecting the average American from the specter of terror.
Americans should be outraged that anyone in a position of authority is defending the NSA programs that do nothing to actually combat or protect us from international terrorism. The sooner we take a stand in opposition to the intelligence community working against us, the better.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.