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43 percent think NSA domestic spying violates individual rights in favor of 'national security'

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: NSA, Fourth Amendment, national security

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(NaturalNews) The Digital Age has taken a huge toll on the Constitution, particularly when it comes to Fourth Amendment privacy rights, but it is also a force for good, as evidenced by a recent survey that indicates more Americans are waking up from years of slumber and rediscovering the Bill of Rights.

In particular, more Americans believe the government, via the National Security Agency, has overused the catch-all excuse of "national security" to infringe far too much on individual rights and liberty - a sentiment reflected in a recent Rasmussen Reports survey:

President Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney and others have defended the National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans' phone and e-mail communications as necessary for national security. But voters think they should have been more concerned about individual rights.

According to the survey, the results of which were released June 27, a plurality of Likely Voters - 43 percent - feel like "government officials have worried too much about national security at the expense of those rights in the NSA surveillance program."

By comparison, just 12 percent believe government has worried too much about protecting individual rights, while less than one-third - 30 percent - believe the balance to be "about right."

Clearly, more Americans disagree with Barack Obama and Dick Cheney - and George W. Bush, since the NSA's domestic spying program began with him, ostensibly under the auspices of the USA Patriot Act.

The verdict's in - Americans don't like the NSA spying on them

Polls since have reflected similar disdain and disapproval from the population at large.

A CBS News poll released before Independence Day found that nearly six in 10 Americans oppose domestic spying on American citizens by the NSA.

"The poll found that while 57 percent of the respondents said the public exposure of the secret bid by a former employee of the NSA spy agency would not harm the fight against terrorism, only 30 percent feel that the disclosure would weaken their country," said PressTV, citing the poll.

At the same time, three-quarters of Americans said they had no problem with the NSA spying on foreign entities - per the agency's founding mandate.

Mind you, Obama and James Clapper, who is Obama's director of National Intelligence, say their program is "legal," as well as longstanding and well-known to Congress, despite the latter's feigned indignant attitude.

But as I've discussed before, legal is not the same as constitutional. Our government has passed scores of laws that proclaim something to be legal, but for which it has no basis to proclaim as such under provisions of the Constitution. This NSA spying program is a perfect example, tortured logic notwithstanding.

"I put that program in place to protect the country. One of the certainties was that civil liberties were guaranteed," Bush said, following NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's recent disclosure that the program was still in use under Obama. "I think there needs to be a balance, and as the president explained, there is a proper balance."

The problem is this - you can't have serial violations of the Constitution's provisions and protections and a guarantee of the liberties that Constitution enshrines at the same time. It's a one-or-the-other proposition; both cannot exist on the same plane.

Echoing Obama, Bush says he struck "the right balance" between "protecting the country" and addressing our "privacy concerns." How, exactly, is it possible to protect privacy rights while blatantly violating them?

'We have tyranny'

Most Americans understand that, in the legitimate interests of national security, the U.S. government must keep an eye on the world. That is a prudent, necessary step to keeping the country safe.

Indeed, every major power does the same thing. They "spy" on us like we "spy" on them, and that includes many of our allies. Snowden's disclosure of the NSA's program was not a revelation to either friend or foe; they have known we've been keeping tabs on them for decades (and vice versa).

Spying on Americans at home, however, just because the government thinks there might be a home-grown threat is simply not permissible under the Constitution, no matter how noble-sounding the reason. If the government believes there to be a threat brewing at home, let whatever agency is responsible for addressing it go through the constitutional process of identifying probable cause and obtaining a warrant to conduct the appropriate level of surveillance.

It's not rocket science, nor did our founders mean for it to be. But they spelled out what standards had to be met before the all-powerful central government was allowed to turn its massive resources on its own citizens. And these standards are being ignored on a routine basis by Obama, all with the implicit support of our elected leaders in Congress.

The process is important, folks. The process matters. If we ignore the process - if it no longer matters - then we no longer have a functional system of government. We have tyranny.

Judging by recent polls, most Americans seem to agree.

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