Provided by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
A lot has changed since 1791.
In that year, the Bill of Rights was ratified and a guiding principle for civil liberties was fused forever with the U.S. Constitution. George Washington was President at the time and as we celebrate his birthday I find myself wondering: what would Washington have thought about cell phones and the internet?
It’s a serious question. The founding fathers – Washington perhaps most of all – were great men who set a course for America that was free, just and fair. And while they could never have predicted the technological advances that would come, they created the Bill of Rights to ensure that no matter what challenges we faced down the road, the basic values of America would stand the test of time.
In large measure they have, but upholding those values takes vigilance – especially today.
The Fourth Amendment states clearly that search and seizure without due cause is an illegal and unacceptable burden on the American people. It’s as basic as it gets.
Yet today, the NSA continues to collect information on the private phone calls and emails of innocent Americans. Don’t get me wrong, the NSA does important work to help protect Americans from those who would do us harm.
But in the course of gathering intelligence on foreign communications they sweep up unprecedented amounts of data on the phone calls and emails of American citizens. That’s a serious problem.
It has to stop, and the President has the authority to make it stop. I intend to see that he does.
I’ve joined with a number of my like-minded colleagues in the Senate calling on the President to end the broad intelligence sweeps that lead to spying on innocent American citizens. Further, we’ve called for a Constitutional Advocate at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – which oversees the NSA’s data collection process – to ensure future lapses are stopped before they even happen.
I’m mindful of the founding fathers today and many of the extraordinary leaders who inhabited the Oval Office with the charge of building a more perfect union. The work continues, and together I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish.
Thanks for being a part of the conversation. Happy Presidents’ Day.