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Voyeur Politicians In D.C. Will Never Rein In Surveillance State

Virtually every time I talk about the NSA, I mention Sen. Frank Church.


Because the senator reminds us of the utter failure of Congress when it comes to reining in the spy agency and protecting our basic privacy rights.

Utter. Failure.

In 1975, Sen. Church issued a poignant warning about the surveillance state on NBC Meet the Press, saying it created the potential for “total tyranny.”

If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

That was before cell phones, before widespread public access to the Internet, and before the proliferation of email and text messaging.

“Total tyranny,” Church said.

That was 40 years ago.

And what exactly has Congress done to address this threat?


Zero. Zilch. Nadda.

In fact, despite talk of reform, hearings and government reports, Congress has made the NSA even more powerful and intrusive.

Today, most members of Congress still turn a deaf ear to Church’s warning, and some want to give the NSA more power still.

Count Republican Tea Party darling Marco Rubio among that number.

In an op-ed published at Fox News, Rubio called for a permanent extension of provisions in the Patriot Act that vastly expanded the federal government’s ability to spy on you.

This year, a new Republican majority in both houses of Congress will have to extend current authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe.

Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act purports to authorize the NSA to collect bulk phone metadata. It also makes it much easier for agencies like the FBI to gather data on Americans without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion that they’ve committed a crime. In fact, you can trace a great deal of the spying you’ve read about in the Edward Snowden revelations back to the legal framework created by Sec. 215.

Rubio doesn’t want to reform these provisions. He doesn’t want to provide more transparency. He certainly doesn’t want to allow them to sunset as scheduled in June of this year.  No. He wants to extend them.


As in forever.

Ironically, after proposing the permanent extension of unconstitutional, immoral and draconian government power to spy on you, Rubio prattled on about “free societies.”

Of course, Rubio bases his entire argument on the need for national security. I find it difficult to comprehend how one can shred the basic principles the United States was founded on and call it “security,” but that point aside, the massive spy program run by the NSA and other federal agencies actually makes us less safe. Gathering data on virtually everybody in the world actually keeps the NSA from doing its job.

It’s easy to bash Rubio. His op-ed makes him an easy pick for Washington D.C. politician with a voyeurism fetish poster-child of the day. But it’s not just Rubio. He is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem along the banks of the Potomac.

Simply put, the political class in Washington D.C. will never reform or rein in the NSA.

It won’t happen.


Congress had 40 years.

It’s time for a new strategy.

At OffNow, we have that strategy. A bill under consideration in the Utah state Senate would turn off the water to the NSA data center in Bluffdale. No water means no cooling for the super-spy computers. Legislators in seven other states have introduced similar bills that would almost certainly keep the NSA from ever building facilities there and have practical effects as well. If enough states pass similar bills, we can box the NSA in, force reform – or simply shut it down.

We need your help. Join us at OffNow today.

This article was originally published at Voices of Liberty.

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