When the Guardian newspaper discovered that the US government has been spying on Americans’ phone calls, emails, and Internet behavior for years without any reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior, Senator Dianne Feinstein leaped to the defense of the electronic surveillance dragnet. The Big Brother program, called PRISM, is necessary to preserve America’s national security, she said: “It’s called protecting America!”
Is that what it’s about? Actually, the record shows the spying of PRISM is about failing to protect America.
The logic of Senator Feinstein’s argument is as follows:
Premise: America needs to be protected.
Premise: Sacrificing liberty enables the protection of America.
Conclusion: Liberty needs to be sacrificed.
Flaw in Feinstein’s first premise: There is no part of the Constitution that states that the American people have a right to security. Security is a function of some parts of the federal government, but it is not the primary function of the federal government. America has other needs besides security, and those needs come before security.
Flaw in Feinstein’s second premise: Sacrificing liberty has not enabled the protection of America. PRISM, created through the FISA Amendments Act and the Patriot Act, sacked the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution in order to spy on hundreds of millions of Americans in billions of instances per day. Yet, the system failed to provide warning of the bombing of the Boston marathon.
Conclusion: Liberty does not need to be sacrificed.
Our constitutional right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure has been taken away from us, and we haven’t even received security in return.