Mr Speaker, I rise in opposition to this latest attempt to undermine our personal liberties and violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. This bill will allow the federal government to engage in the bulk collection of American citizens’ communications. In effect, it means that any American may have his electronic communications monitored without a search warrant.
As such, the bill clearly violates the Fourth Amendment, which states:
“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.”
The assurances in this bill that Americans will not have their communications monitored without warrant are unconvincing. The bill merely states that the government should do its best to avoid monitoring Americans if possible. We have seen how meaningless such qualified prohibitions have been as we recount the abuses over the past several years.
Just today, we read in the news that the federal government has massively abused its ability to monitor us by improperly targeting Americans through the use of “national security letters.” Apparently some 60 percent of the more than 50,000 national security letters targeted Americans, rather than foreign terrorists, for surveillance.
This is what happens when we begin down the slippery slope of giving up our constitutional rights for the promise of more security. When we come to accept that the government can spy on us without a court order we have come to accept tyranny.
I urge my colleagues to reject this and all legislation that allows Americans to be spied on without a properly issued warrant.