Benjamin Franklin warned that he who sacrifices freedom to get security deserves neither.
We’re seeing the wisdom in his words in post 9-11 America with laws that have weakened or simply ignored constitutionally protected freedoms. In the name of national security, Congress passed the Patriot Act, and several other laws to weaken many of our rights under the Constitution. Also during that period, the Bush Administration authorized the NSA to collect data on millions of Americans. This was done solely on George W. Bush’s orders and for some time before a FISA court judge allowed the data collection in 2004. Of course, we didn’t find out about that ruling until it was made public in November 2013.
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Politico reports in 2004 then Deputy Attorney General James Comey questioned the legality of some of Bush’s post 9/11 surveillance programs and he refused to re-authorize them. That’s when the Bush Administration took the matter to the FISA court where Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approved the program.
According to court papers from 2007 that were made public on Monday,
Specifically, the President authorized the NSA to collect metadata related to Internetcommunications for the purpose of conducting targeted analysis to track Al Qaeda-related networks. Internet metadata is header/router/addressing information, such as the ‘to,’ ‘from,’ ‘cc,’ and ‘bcc’ lines, as opposed to the body or ‘re’ lines, of a standard e-mail. Since July 2004, the collection of Internet metadata has been conducted pursuant to an Order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
It wasn’t until 2006 that the Bush Administration acknowledged that it was collecting phone data, but made no mention of the email data it was also collecting.
If we didn’t know it before, it became all too obvious following Edward Snowden’s leaks – including the NSA Inspector General’s Report 2009 that our government was not only collecting data from our phone calls but from our email as well.
Since then, Rand Paul milked the Snowden leaks for all that he could before throwing Snowden under the bus earlier this year and misrepresenting President Obama’s announcement of changes to the surveillance program. Rand Paul went on to sue the Federal Government in the name of protecting our right to privacy with a stolen lawsuit, with Freedom Works as his co-plaintiff and with that great champion of privacy rights, Ken Cuccinelli, as his lead lawyer. Larry Klayman also has a similar suit pending.
The ironies in this story are endless, beginning with the cast of characters. We have Rand Paul who believes freedom means businesses denying services to black people, denying women the right to make their own healthcare decisions and denying non-Republicans the right to vote as a great civil libertarian fighting for privacy rights that were, in reality, violated by the NSA solely on orders by fellow Republican, George W. Bush. We have Ken Cuccinelli who tried to regulate sex when he was Virginia’s Attorney General as the lead attorney in a suit on privacy rights. We have Larry Klayman, who tried nullify Barack Obama’s presidency with a birther suit, and last year tried to stage a coup with his demand that Obama “put the Quran down.” Yet, he filed his suit because he is concerned about privacy rights?
It took these lawsuits against the Obama Administration to see court documents that reveal what a Republican Administration did to our privacy rights solely on the orders of then President George. W. Bush. So yes, in a back handed way, if it wasn’t for Rand Paul trying to make himself over as a civil libertarian, we might still be in the dark about the origins of the NSA program and why the Bush Administration eventually disclosed its existence to the secret Fisa Court.
The fact remains that Rand Paul is trying to make himself over from a guy who opposed the Civil Rights Act because he thinks businesses should have a right to discriminate against whoever they please to a guy who cares about the privacy of all Americans at least so long as a black man is in the White House or when it’s tax dodgers hording their money in Swiss Bank accounts.
However, his respect for constitutionally protected privacy changes when it comes to women making their own health care decisions or planning the size of their families.
In Rand Paul’s world, privacy is merely his delusion of a ticket to the White House.