An Open Letter to the Tea Partiers
Dear Tea Partiers,
I’d like to address you in good faith for a moment. I noticed today you had some strong feelings about what you consider to be President Obama taking away your freedom. You had some problems, I saw, with a recent Department of Homeland Security report assessing that your outrage is coterminous with prospective terrorism. If you don’t mind, I’d like you to stay in that frame of mind while considering the following proposition.
As you’ll see in the New York Times piece reported by Eric Lichtblau and Jim Risen, the National Security Agency has been engaging in domestic surveillance beyond the boundaries of even the weakened safeguards that resulted from the 2007 revision to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. My question for you, in all your current antigovernment ire, is this:* do you trust Barack Obama with these expanded surveillance powers? Do you believe that any government can be trusted not to abuse authorities that do not require individualized warrants for surveillance targets, and require that the government show “reasonably” that the target of wide-ranging surveillance is “reasonably” believed to be overseas? Does this sound like something you want your president to do? Or does it sound like there ought to be a legislative revision to FISA to prevent the now-documented abuse?
We can argue later about who had the better argument over warrantless surveillance from 2005 to 2007. But for now, can we count on your current mood of anti-government skepticism to result in a durable civil-libertarian consensus?
I’m serious about this. Holler. Don’t go breaking my heart.