Apparently bowing to pressure, President Obama chose an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews as the venue to reveal that “I’ll be proposing some self-restraint on the NSA and initiating some reforms that can give people some more confidence.”
Only it is clear from the president’s own words that any “reform” is likely to be cosmetic rather than substantive: “The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people’s emails, not listening to … the contents of their phone calls,” he claimed, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Nevertheless, he assured, “They are not interested in reading your emails. They’re not interested in…reading your text messages.”
And I say this: “They” may not be interested in reading my boring emails or occasional text messages – but they are capturing all the details of same, every day – who I wrote to, where I was at the time, where I am now, what web sites I visited – all of it. Metadata clearly is part and parcel of the “papers and effects” referred to in the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, as in:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
That’s the 4th Amendment, and the NSA is shredding my (and your) 4th Amendment rights every day. If this president (who vowed to uphold the Constitution when he took office) doesn’t call for a dismantling of the NSA programs that vacuum up all mobile phone metadata, and if he doesn’t call for the NSA to unplug from monitoring the Internet backbone, then he is violating his oath of office and assuring himself a seat in history right next to Richard Nixon.