By now, I’m sure we’ve all had time to develop a firm dislike and distrust towards the NSA. Recently, this we has grown to include millions of French citizens and even former Mexican presidents when reports provided by Edward Snowden revealed extensive and malicious spying on both French citizens and Felipe Calderon, a former Mexican president.
On October 21, the Christian Science Monitor released an article telling of the recent misdeeds of the NSA. According to the article, during December of 2012 and January of 2013, the NSA intercepted 70.3 millions of French phone calls and text messages. Those targeted were people ‘suspected’ [my quotations] of terrorist activities as well as people who were simply associated with French government and administration. Upon hearing this, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius summoned U.S. Ambassador Charles Rifkin to an immediate meeting in Luxembourg. Shortly before this, Manuel Valls, France’s Minister of the Interior, called the 70.3 million recordings “shocking” and went on to say that “If an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that’s totally unacceptable.” In a rather feeble response, all Rifkin cared to say was that US and French relations were “the best they’ve been in a generation.”
But harassment by the NSA is not confined to the life of the common man. In a different report leaked by Snowden, it was revealed that between 2006 and 2012 the NSA hacked into the e-mail of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose site was also used by cabinet members. In addition to this, it was discovered that the NSA had also spied on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Mexico responded that these efforts at surveillance were “unacceptable, unlawful and contrary to Mexican law and international law.”
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the NSA’s surveillance efforts is the temerity at which the agency conducts business. It is this temerity that is the cause of the extent of the NSA’s spying today. Not only is the agency unethically spying on its own citizens, the NSA is extending the long arm of surveillance towards other countries, acts that weaken foreign relations and therefor bring about less security at the same time heightening the USA’s financial woes. But it seems like the NSA is wholly remorseless for the acts they commit. According to the article mentioned above, the NSA called the data that was unlawfully and unethically extracted from the foreign President’s email a “lucrative source.” People, the NSA seems to think, are not ends in and of themselves, deserving of dignity, but rather are objects and means to be used as the NSA wishes. Gone are the days of natural and inalienable rights, and here to stay is the mindset that privacy and property rights are privileges allowed to us by Big Brother. A key phrase from the Declaration of Independence comes to mind when pondering the state of affairs here in America: “All men are created equal, [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… [And] to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” It is time for the people of the United States to stand up against the NSA and demand restoration of their privacy.
Luckily, there are some who have done just that. Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner have introduced the USA Freedom Act, a bill that contains several reforms to re-balance the checks on NSA spying. The bill includes protections for those involved with FISA courts and also allows companies to disclose information about their participation in NSA spying activities, among other much-needed amendments to current policy. It pains me to see that we have come to such a state of affairs that companies can’t even speak of the injustices Big Brother places upon them and that the right to free speech is a matter of debate on the floor of today’s Congress. Although the bill does not posses all the reforms a libertarian would like, it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully this bill, in conjunction with the work of key Congressional leaders, can help to restore respect for privacy and property rights again, something the Patriot Act was so helpful in tearing down.
I was born in Fargo, North Dakota. In the summer before first grade my family moved to Mahnomen, Minnesota where I was raised for the rest of my childhood. I plan on graduating in 2016 with a double major in both Political Science and Economics.