C4L Letter to the Hill

The following letter was recently sent to U.S. senators, urging them to oppose renewal of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008:

Dear Senator,

On behalf of over half a million Campaign for Liberty grassroots activists across the country, I urge you to oppose any extension of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) due to its gross violations of the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution.

Warrantless surveillance, roving wiretaps, and secretive FISA courts - this is not the America envisioned by our Founding Fathers.  In fact, it was the early American Patriot, James Otis, Jr., whose fiery five-hour oration against British “writs of assistance” in 1761 ignited a revolution.  John Adams later claimed, “The child independence was then and there born, every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.”  The surveillance now being conducted on law-abiding Americans under authorization of the FAA is tantamount to the “general warrants” issued by the British.

Proponents of this legislation erroneously claim the surveillance conducted under this law only targets “foreigners in foreign lands.”  Such claims represent either an outright falsehood or a misunderstanding of what the FAA does.  This summer, Americans learned that “on at least one occasion,” the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had already ruled that “minimization procedures” under the FAA violated the Fourth Amendment.  “Minimization procedures” relate to how long government retains surveillance data; however, the existence of such a database at all is itself an affront to the Constitution.  Unfortunately, little else is known about what violations to the Constitution may have occurred under the FAA, because such information is either unavailable or classified.

Secrecy is the keystone of the national-security state.  Americans are not allowed to know whether their own government is spying on them.  Even if they found out their phone calls were being intercepted or text messages and emails being stored in a database, there is little legal recourse an individual can pursue against the all-powerful Leviathan.  Underscoring this point, Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told senators that an IG review to find out how many Americans were spied on by the NSA would in itself violate the Constitution!  Such a statement is better suited in an Orwell novel than coming from the United States Government.

When asked how many Americans were spied on by our government, one senator responded with the fictitious number, “Gazillions.”  It is absolutely unacceptable for a law like the FAA to remain intact and be extended, especially unquestioned, without first providing the transparency necessary to know how and precisely why the government is using these powers.  Furthermore, the burden is on the government to demonstrate the need and urgency for the continued use of powers that have been shown to violate American citizens’ constitutional safeguards.  The specificity required under the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches is clearly not met by the general warrants and secretive FISA courts that authorize them under the FAA.

These are dark days for the republic, and darker days lie ahead if the government continues to demand Americans hand over more of their liberty for so-called “security.”

It is said the terrorists hate us because we are free.  Yet giving up more of our freedoms for illusory security is never going to be the solution for the problem of international terrorism.

Allowing the Constitution to be shredded by those sworn to uphold it reinforces the idea that Americans face a greater danger from an out-of-control domestic government than from any threat that could be posed by a foreign enemy.

Again, on behalf of over half a million Campaign for Liberty grassroots activists across the country, I urge you to stand up for the Constitution and the American people by opposing any extension of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

In Liberty,

John Tate


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