The Senate is about to begin debate on a bill that could, at long last, put an end to the indiscriminate bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and bring needed transparency to the abusive spying programs that have tarnished the nation’s reputation.
The bill, to be introduced on Tuesday by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is a significant improvement over the halfhearted measure passed by the House in May. That legislation was notable for putting even Republicans on the record in opposition to the broad domestic spying efforts of the intelligence agencies, but its final version was watered down at the insistence of the White House.
Whatever happened that made our representatives in Congress to fundamentally change our nation’s laws from presumed innocent until proven guilty, to presumed guilty until proven innocent, needs to be changed back.
The idea that it is OK to rifle through everyone’s private data – not only phone records – in order to discover pre-crime, is not only unethical and illogical, but goes against everything our nation was founded on.
The data collection doesn’t begin and end with our phone records but extends to all internet traffic, bugs inserted into operating system and hardware code and who knows what else the geniuses at the NSA have thought up over the years. The data collection doesn’t stop at our borders but practically extends to the entire world, heads of state included.
There are ways to conduct intelligence. There are ways to conduct foreign policy. There are ways to catch criminals. What we’ve been doing isn’t the right way. It’s Orwell on steroids.
The Senate bill doesn’t go nearly far enough. The entire premise upon which the work of the NSA is founded needs to be repealed. Anything less is anti-Democratic and un-American.