I’m a national security hawk. But, I’m also a free-market, anti-crony capitalist. I’m a Catholic, I’m a dad and I’m a businessman.
And an American.
For all these reasons, I stand with Rand in his lawsuit against Barack Obama and his co-defendants: the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and FBI Director James Comey.
“Paul’s suit, filed in conjunction with conservative group FreedomWorks,” says the New York Daily News, “alleges that the NSA’s bulk collection program, under which the agency has collected the telephone metadata of many Americans, violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches.”
It’s also just the tip of the iceberg.
As a matter of law there is no legal way for us to secure our own electronic communications sufficient to prevent the government from spying on us.
The law limits the length of computer encryption, so that even without a key, the government can use a “black box”—a high speed computer deployed by intelligence agencies for pattern recognition, that can break encryption with the ability to alter the content of data as well – to sit outside servers and capture every single piece of electronic data generated on the internet, with very little latency.
That means, as a practical matter-- as opposed to a matter of law-- that the government can spy on us without us even knowing.
In the old days, this would be akin to a group of people from the government breaking into a private office at will and rifling through papers, say, at the Watergate headquarters of the Democrat National Committee.
We’ll call these people, for the sake of example, the Plumbers.
Let’s say that the Plumbers had a law in the 1970s that said that no office in the country could have a lock, no building a watchman, sufficient to make sure that home and businesses are secure from break-in.
But don’t worry, the Plumbers reassure us, trust us: Anything we break into will only “inadvertently” violate your right to unreasonable search and seizure.
It won’t be used against you.
It is this very eventuality that our Founders, previous political philosophers, great statesmen in our history sought to protect us from by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. It is the eventuality that Senator Rand Paul and contemporary political activists seek to protect us from right now
“Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock,” said Franklin Roosevelt, “has our American civilization been in such danger as now.”
Yet today the enemy is not just a collection of thugs from across the ocean, although they include those thugs as well.
Today, the enemy is here, amongst us.
“I’m not against the NSA, I’m not against spying, I’m not against looking at phone records,” Paul told Politico. “I just want you to go to a judge, have an individual’s name and [get] a warrant. That’s what the Fourth Amendment says.”
Paul’s right. The enemy is not the people in the intelligence community or the work they do.
I go to church with them, meet them at civic meetings and have coffee with them.
And so do you.
They are moral people.
Not so the government. I have regularly observed that institutions, like government, are neither moral nor immoral. They are amoral, doing whatever necessary for survival. When combined with the increasing immorality of the people who lead us in the government—and I’m not just talking about the Democrats; people who are expected to make moral judgment and flunk the test-- the danger is real and urgent.
“For just as the magnanimous man tends to great things out of greatness of soul,” says Thomas Aquinas, “so the pusillanimous man shrinks from great things out of littleness of soul.” Or as William Manchester summed it up: “Thomas Aquinas once raised the issue of choosing between a proud man and a pusillanimous one. Take the proud one every time, he advised, because you will be sure that he will at least do something.”
Senator Rand Paul, tossed into a sea of pusillanimity, is doing something to defend us against that proud man in the White House who is doing anything he wants.
From Jamestown to Plymouth Rock, pride like Paul’s ought to be encouraged.