Don’t Forget the Purpose

It is now official. Senator Rand Paul, along with FreedomWorks, is suing the Obama administration over the NSA’s data mining activity. Former Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli will be the lead counsel for the class action lawsuit. Senator Paul’s lawsuit goes after something that almost every American should be able to support. Mass spying on American citizens is not only unnecessary, it is downright Orwellian. A massive “general warrant” on the American people is blatantly unconstitutional, and the fact that it has come to this point seems strange to many people. However, when one looks at the idea driving such activity, it becomes much more justifiable, but no less constitutional.

After 9/11, national security became a much more important part of public policy. President Bush specifically was probably the most affected by such acts of war perpetrated on American citizens. Remember that Bush did not enter office with a vision for foreign policy; he primarily was focused on domestic policy. 9/11 changed all of that. Combatting belligerent nations and groups has become the main focus of American foreign policy. However, it has developed into a more domestic issue. The focus has become very focused on monitoring domestic activity to prevent future terrorist attacks.

In theory, this sounds like an effective way to prevent terrorist attacks, and perhaps it even is. Keep in mind that the welfare of the public has often been the alibi of tyrants. Nations have been destroyed by tyrannical leaders who acted in the name of national security. Hitler did this in Germany. While he manufactured his own crisis by burning down the Reichstag, the situation required addressing in the public’s view. Slow creation of organizations like the Gestapo helped to enforce the “national security” that Hitler claimed was necessary. In the process, a nation was internally ravaged. What is happening at the NSA is nothing short of a repetition of history.

America is not Nazi Germany, though. There are two important documents called the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence (insert typical eye roll here). Look at these documents as something more than documents for a moment. They are an embodiment of principles that united a people. A new nation was brought forth based on the principles of liberty and equality.  The entire purpose of the Constitution is stated in the Declaration. Current policies like the NSA’s data mining are what these documents sought to prevent.

In wake of 9/11, Washington has grown a new purpose in its national security policy. It seems that every citizen has now become a potential suspect. First of all, what happened to habeas corpus? Are we not, as American citizens, guaranteed the rights to face our accuser, know the charges against us, and only be subject to search upon issuance of a court order? No more, apparently. “National security” has now trumped our fundamental law.

The entire principles of limited government and personal liberty have been tossed out. If these principles are no longer at the core of America, what is being defended? The liberty that such policies seek to defend have stolen it. If America’s enemies want to destroy it because of its freedom, they better hurry up, because the federal government is beating them to it.

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