Rep. Grayson: Let Me Tell The NSA: There Is No Threat To Our Nation When I Call My Mother
from the so-why-do-you-have-the-records? dept
So far, we’ve seen lots of Congressional Representatives falling over each other to attack Ed Snowden and Glenn Greenwald over the NSA surveillance efforts. A few have raised concerns, but if you want to see an elected official say what’s on many of our minds, listen to Rep. Alan Grayson’s speech about the NSA scooping up all phone records.
Let’s be clear about this. This appears to be an order, providing that our telephone companies turn over call records for every single telephone call, regardless of whether it’s international or not. Now, if someone had come to me nine days ago and said, ‘Congressman Grayson, do you think that the Defense Department is taking records of any telephone call that you make or I make?’ I would say ‘no, I have no reason to believe that. It would shock me if it were true.’ Well it is true and it DOES SHOCK ME. Why should we have our personal telephone records, the records of who we call, when speak to them, how long we’re talking… why should we have that turned over to the Defense Department?
What possible rationale could there be for that?
Well, I’ll tell you what I think their rationale would be: “because somehow that makes us safer.” Well, let me say to the NSA and the Defense Department: there is no threat to America when I speak to my mother.
It goes on, in much greater detail about why this is such a problem. He points out that the order “clearly violates the 4th Amendment,” which is the first time I’ve seen a politician finally admit that. He highlights that there’s no probable cause and no particularity, as required by the 4th Amendment. And, for those who immediately, like rote, spout out Smith v. Maryland and the third party doctrine, Grayson responds to that as well, calling those who make that argument a “farce,” noting the differences in that case, which involved seizing a single record once, not all records all the time.
Towards the end of his speech, he notes that the intelligence agencies have a long history of abusing surveillance:
You know, this is not the first time we’ve had this problem. This is not the first time that the government has entered into surveillance on people without probable cause. Many of us remember that there was FBI surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, including wiretapping and bugging his personal conversations. I thought — perhaps naively — that we’d moved beyond that. And, in some sense, we have moved beyond that. Because now, they’re doing it to everyone.
One could well say that we are reaching the point where Uncle Sam is Big Brother.
…though its proponents depict this is American as apple spy (sic?), this program is an anti-American program. We are not North Koreans. We don’t live in Nazi Germany. We are Americans and we are human beings. And we deserve to have our privacy respected. I have no way to call my mother except to employ the services of Verizon or AT&T or some other phone company… that doesn’t mean that it’s okay with me for the government — and specifically the Department of Defense — to be getting information of every phone call I make to her. It’s not okay with me…. and I know for most of the people listening today, it’s not okay with you either.
As he concludes: “this has gone way too far.”