Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Letter to the editor

Here's the text of a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press that I emailed today. I'll update this post when/if it's published.

Update: The letter was published in the News-Press on February 16, 2014.

To the editor:

Senator Rand Paul, meet ACLU. With his joinder as a plaintiff in a recently-filed lawsuit by the Tea Party entity, FreedomWorks, against President Obama and the National Security Agency, the Far Right has officially joined the Far Left. Not entirely, of course. Not on many "social" issues or, to be sure, on taxation. But with formidable vigor, the Kentucky Senator and his devotees by this filing have entered the freedom-of-expression and right-to-privacy debates in lockstep with ACLU, insisting that the government's mass collection of Americans' electronic messages is unlawful, unconstitutional.

Two previous lawsuits to this effect – by ACLU and by Judicial Watch – have met with mixed results: the former being dismissed, the latter victorious, with the issues doubtless headed to the Supreme Court.

But Senator Paul's recent joinder in the claim of the NSA's unconstitutional over-reach by its "metadata" collection of our phonecalls and Internet activities does more than add heft to arguments about its illegality. It shows what we Americans – Left, Right or Middle – have always known but have seldom seen so squarely framed: That the Bill of Right's First and Fourth Amendments aren't mere political articulations. The rights to be free from government intrusion into, and monitoring of, our private expressions and activities are fundamental to what we, of whatever political persuasion, hold paramount – rights we've enshrined in our founding documents, rights we've fought wars to protect and rights we won't surrender to any secretive, rogue government agency, no matter what its claimed rationalization or its initials.