Do You Have a Problem Trading Liberty for Security?

Remember that old saying misattributed to Ben Franklin, but is actually a misquote of Thomas Jefferson? “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Well lo and behold we should not be surprised that the Washington Post is in favor of such.

In an editorial piece by the Washington Post titled, “FISA needs to balance security and liberty,” it reads”:

WHEN CAN THE government snoop on you in the name of national security? The acrimonious war over that big question is reigniting.

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The Supreme Court on Monday (Oct. 28) will hear part of a suit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In addition to modernizing FISA, originally drafted in 1978, the ACLU and others claim the 2008 amendments weakened already loose limits on the government’s ability to spy on Americans. Among other things, they theorize that government agents can conduct “dragnet” data collection that could ensnare the electronic communications of thousands or even millions of U.S. citizens, as long as the spying isn’t targeted at U.S. citizens. There are not enough protections, they argue, of Americans’ Fourth Amendment freedom from unreasonable searches.

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It’s hard even to discuss how the system operates because it’s secret. That means it’s also hard to challenge in court. The government argues that people can’t sue unless they can show they’ve been harmed. The plaintiffs say they suspect they may have been or will be caught up in surveillance, but that since the program is secret, by design and necessity, they might never know for sure. The best they can do is claim they have a reasonable suspicion that the government has or will come across their e-mails or phone calls. The court might well find that reasoning insufficient to sustain the ACLU’s suit, because the activists’ court challenge would proceed without the sort of specific, factual record that normally underlies constitutional disputes.

Well I have news for WAPO and the Supreme Court. There is something called the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution which is about as clear as you can get on the matter. In case anyone missed it, the Fourth Amendment reads,

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.

There is nothing here about trading that security, or we might better understand it today as “privacy,” for liberty. The federal government is pushing this idea that they must search our stuff, send K-9s around our homes on the pretense of searching them without a warrant, use illegal gps tracking devices on our vehicles, scan our naked bodies at airports and a variety of things, all in the name of security. But they fail to secure one thing.

If you support such measures then that is part of the problem. The federal government has become quite comfortable writing laws that undermine the Constitution, while at the same time leaving the Constitution in place as some sort of god to bow down to, but really meaningless as they have removed the liberties of the people via fiat executive orders, and various laws which are contradictory to those envisioned and put on paper by the founders.

To give up liberty for security is foolish. It is to lose freedom, for that is what liberty is, and it is to embrace what is not freedom: slavery. I realize there are many that will read this and exclaim “I’m no slave, I’m free!” and in the midst of that declaration not only vote for those that would seek to enslave them more, but happily do so. My friend, my fellow American, wake from your slumber and realize that you have been played by those who care only for themselves. They do not have your best interests at heart. However, you do. You care for yourself and your family. Do not let the inheritance so many have purchased with their lives, their possessions and their sacred honor be squandered for a perception of security.

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