This past Thursday, the House passed a bill entitled, ironically, the USA Freedom Act. This is a revised version of the bill previously approved by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Many argue it has been gutted. In fact, the Washington Post asserts that 76 of the 152 co-sponsors of the original version voted against the new and not-so-improved effort to reel in government spying. The bullies have once again, albeit temporarily, triumphed in what amounts to NSA Reform Lite.
But every bloated and secretly insecure bully is eventually confronted by someone courageous who dares to step forward from the cowering crowd. Enter Senator Rand Paul. In February, Senator Paul filed a class action lawsuit in protest of the administration’s dragnet surveillance practices.
Speaking at the University of California, Berkeley in March, Senator Paul stated that, regardless of differing political inclinations, “I’m not here to tell you what to be. I am here to tell you, though, that your rights, especially your right to privacy, is under assault. I’m here to tell you that if you own a cellphone, you’re under surveillance. I’m here to tell you that the NSA believes that equal protection means that Americans should be spied upon equally, including Congress.” (The New American)
It’s unlikely that Senator Paul will endorse this latest incarnation of the USA Freedom Act.
The fact that 76 House members rejected the newest version of a bill they had previously endorsed is indicative of the increasing divide between political appeasements and good old-fashioned American horse sense. It will be a year next month that Edward Snowden let the American people—and the world—know that the government is spying on us every minute of every day. And all of this is done in the name of national security? How did we ever get along without it?
In these perilous Orwellian times, Benjamin Franklin’s words couldn’t be more spot-on: “Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary freedom deserves neither liberty nor safety.”
A forewarning for those who press on blindly with the mantra “I’m not worried, I have nothing to hide,” you are mistaken. The “evolving” definition of terrorist could apply to you someday. Additionally, it would be naïve to think that the NSA is not compiling seemingly disparate pieces of our personal activities and communications for a greater purpose.
Senator Paul and a handful of other brave lawmakers recognize the severity of this situation. They know that this will not end well if something is not done immediately. Communication is a means to express thought, and our thoughts should not be monitored by the powers that be.
Without comprehensive NSA reform, we are doomed to a life of subjugation. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have a conversation without worrying about who is listening? Share your thoughts—if you dare—about the NSA, dragnet surveillance, and our evaporating privacy below. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.
Written by Adam Michael Hamilton
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