What if I told you that in this day and age you have less rights as an American citizen than some of our country’s founding fathers, George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson? What is so sad about this question is the truth behind it. The government has been keeping record of your emails, as well as listening in on your personal phone calls. But with this invasion of privacy now public and discussed all over the Internet and news media one might ask, “Who cares?”
Remember the freedom discussed in last week’s blog post? Are we a communist or socialist country that could care less about the privacy of our own citizens or the privacy of our own selves? Does it matter more that your rights are violated so that the country can be safe? Are you a terrorist? Are you meaning harm on thousands of innocent Americans? Or better yet is your six-grade daughter going to be the next suicide bomber? Should your second grader’s iPad be looked into? Is their any hint of terrorism in your fourteen year old’s artistic brain? This week’s blog post discusses the education all Americans need as far as our rights and civil liberties go. For this feature story I interviewed Presidential Historian and political consultant Doug Wead, bringing us amazing insight into the topic of civil liberty loss.
French 17th century leader, Cardinal Richelieu once said, “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” Richelieu was making the point that if the government wants to target someone they can always find a legal reason to justify themselves. Wead says, “Only a few years ago a president had to have permission from a judge to listen in on your telephone conversations. Now, without a judge’s signature, and with permission from his own appointed judiciary review staff, he can kill you.”
Yes, the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights are being violated. According to history Wead comments, “The U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights are documents that emerged after hundreds and thousand of years. Many people suffered at the hands of government so our founding fathers wanted a government that served the people and didn’t abuse them.”
Where is America’s freedom now? To answer this question we have to take a look back at the information Wead gave us about the year 2013.
In March of 2013, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was asked, under oath, in a Congressional Hearing, whether the government was collecting data on Americans. Clapper answered “No Sir”. Only months later the story became public that the National Security Agency was collecting and storing massive amounts of private information on the American people.
Wead says, “It was soon learned that the U.S. government was listening in on the personal phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.” The revelation prompted members of the U.S. Senate to wonder if they, themselves, were targets of government snooping. Called before the U.S. Senate, CIA director, John Brennan was asked if the CIA was spying on senators. He flatly denied it. Wead answers, “This too was later shown to be false. A CIA inspector general’s report contradicted Brennan’s statements.”
Most Americans are okay with the government reading their emails and listening in on their phone calls. They say, “I don’t have anything to hide”. Wead says, “This misses the point. Did Thomas Jefferson have something to hide? Did George Washington and John Adams have something to hide? Was the Bill of Rights and the Constitution written to protect a criminal class?”
Benjamin Franklin’s sage advice is even more relevant today than when he first said it, “If you give up your freedom for safety you don’t deserve either one.” Yes the threat of terrorism is great, but no greater than the threat of Great Britain, the world’s biggest super power, that threatened to destroy America at its birth.