Jul 112013
 
 July 11, 2013  Govt, Laws, Surveillance, U.S.

A professor of constitutional law, Randy E. Barnett writes:

Due largely to unauthorized leaks, we now know that the National Security Agency has seized from private companies voluminous data on the phone and Internet usage of all U.S. citizens. We’ve also learned that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved the constitutionality of these seizures in secret proceedings in which only the government appears, and in opinions kept secret even from the private companies from whom the data are seized.

If this weren’t disturbing enough, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, is compiling a massive database of citizens’ personal information—including monthly credit-card, mortgage, car and other payments—ostensibly to protect consumers from abuses by financial institutions.

All of this dangerously violates the most fundamental principles of our republican form of government.

Read more on The Wall Street Journal.

  4 Responses to “The NSA’s Surveillance Is Unconstitutional – OpEd”

  1. The tired expression Due largely to unauthorized leaks, seems problematic if the government is not allowed to hide criminality. Any exposed criminality is at the discretion of the sovereign taxpayer who decides to share it with the rest of us, no? I’m afraid I fail to understand how the government is authorized to keep crimes a secret from us, aside from holding a presumptive monopoly on force. I cannot keep past criminality from my employer. Why are we allowing government employees a pass?

    I’m always learning something new and interesting from your posts. Thank you.

    • Thanks for the kind words about the blog, Pete. I think your comment is premised on the government’s actions being illegal. If Congress authorized this collection and a court approved it, how do we get to “criminality?” Of course, I think this is all unconstitutional, but the programs haven’t really been challenged in a court where both sides are represented and the court actually has truthful information about the scope and methods….

      Perhaps the “criminality” is the lies told to Congress (e.g., that by DNI’s Clapper) and misrepresentations made to courts. And for that, I’d like to see people charged with perjury and/or obstruction of justice, or sued for deprivation of civil liberties. But hey, I’m not a lawyer. :

      • Hi Dissent,

        Sorry for the late reply. You’re well read enough to have fooled me you’re no lawyer.

        Marbury v. Madison set the precedent that all laws enacted that are abhorrent to the Constitution are null and void. Forgive me for saying “illegal;” perhaps, “null and void” is better. However, I’m inclined to believe that those in government who write such laws are aiding tyranny, which I’ll call the “enemy” of liberty. Seems to make sense. This contract works only when the government stewards uphold their end of the bargain. After all, we’re paying them.

        • Oh, I agree that this is all So Very Wrong. But all three branches are to blame and I don’t see anyone really getting the ball rolling to overturn rulings, repeal legislation, throw out Third Party Doctrine, and get this country back on track to respect privacy. I don’t even know which branch of government I disrespect most at this point.

          So even if it is null and void, someone has to officially declare it null and void. And I don’t see that happening at all in the foreseeable future. I think Obama may elect to cut back/scale down some programs, but who is going to tackle the bigger issues? This is not the right Supreme Court to really stand up for privacy, in my opinion. Can you imagine them throwing out third party doctrine? I can’t. And if they wouldn’t, then can you imagine this Congress ever passing a law that would seriously restrict government from obtaining or information? They’ve all been running scared since 9/11.

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