There is a civil war brewing on the Right on the issue of civil liberties. With recent revelations that the National Security Agency is conducting broad surveillance of Americans’ phone records and Internet activity, even if they aren’t suspected of terrorist activity, many conservatives and libertarians are fighting back.
“The trump card for McCain-Graham Republicans and their many allies in the Democratic Party is that they can claim various federal actions have prevented terrorist attacks while the alleged proof is usually classified,” wrote James Antle earlier this week at The American Conservative. “When terrorist attacks fail or do not occur, the surveillance state is vindicated. When terrorism happens, it proves the surveillance state needs more power. To think otherwise is to brand patriotic Americans Nazis, which of course only unpatriotic conservatives do.”
“But so far it is Paul’s defense of the Fourth Amendment—conveniently violated by a Democratic administration—that is capturing conservatives’ imaginations. Tea Party groups are railing against the NSA alongside the IRS,” he added. “Grassroots conservatives seem to be standing with Rand rather than rolling their eyes at the wacko birds. They are quoting Sen. Barack Obama, who was skeptical of trading liberty for security, against President Obama.”
As noted, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the loudest voices in Washington when it comes to sacrificing our liberties for security. Since the NSA scandal became news, Graham said that he’s “glad” the broad surveillance programs exists, hinted that he would be willing to censor the mail, and attacked the views of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on the issue.
But some liberty-minded activists are less than pleased with Graham’s willingness to so easily toss aside the Fourth Amendment. Yesterday, FreedomWorks, a DC-based organization with strong ties to the Tea Party movement, launched a new petition demanding that Graham give up his e-mail passwords.
“Privacy is a citizen’s right to choose what information you prefer to tell the public about, and what you choose to keep to yourself,” said Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks. “Senator Lindsay Graham recently asserted that violating the Fourth Amendment to implement warrantless government surveillance is not only acceptable, it’s welcomed. If we’re not talking to terrorists, we have nothing to worry about.”
“Respectfully, Senator, we ask you to lead by example and make your email account password available to the American people,” added Kibbe. “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about. Right?”
Kibbe also spoke about petition and the problem with the NSA at a press conference organized by RandPAC, during which Paul announced that he would file class action lawsuit against the federal government over the surveillance programs.
“The reason I bring up Sen. Graham is I’d like to point out that this is not a partisan issue. This is not about Republicans versus Democrats,it’s not about liberals versus conservatives,” noted Kibbe. “It’s about insiders who just say ‘trust us.’ It’s about insiders who want that unlimited discretionary power to do what’s best for us versus the American people. I stand with the people on this one.”
You can sign the petition at LindseysPassword.com.