Democrat Lisa McCormick issued the following statement in response to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) announcement that it will stop collecting Americans’ Internet communications that may include mentions of a foreign intelligence target. The announcement marks a break in years of NSA policy to collect email, texts, and other Internet communication that merely mention identifying terms for foreign targets, but are not to or from those targets, also known as “about” surveillance.
I am glad to hear the Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted searches will be restored, at least in part, with this long overdue announcement. The unconstitutional invasion of our privacy never protected national security, but it made us less free or fearful of sharing our personal secrets with people we trust.
The National Security Agency is no longer collecting Americans’ emails or texts exchanged with people overseas that simply mention foreigners the agency is spying on, unless the messages are to or from those specific intelligence targets. This is a step in the right direction but America must learn to think differently.
The NSA’s mass surveillance program invaded millions of Americans’ telephone records, snooped on emails, and peaked at private pictures but there was no real legal foundation for it and it wasn’t stopping terrorism.
A strong national defense is only part of our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties, ensure justice and promote the general prosperity and equality of our people. More and more, we live in a global society and it is time to understand that only by advancing human rights for everyone may we achieve peace and freedom.
Losing sight of that fact created many of our problems. Terrorism is a crime that only works when we give in to fear. The idea that foreign terrorists pose a grave threat to Americans is false. Ordinary crime, preventable illness and predictable accidents are more common dangers to most of us than any far away threat.
Military and foreign policy experts say President Trump’s efforts to prohibit people from seven majority-Muslim nations actually worsens the threat of terrorism because it sows discord among the 220 million people who live in those nations and throughout the international community. Clearly, President Obama’s drone strikes have inspired more antipathy toward Americans from our brothers and sisters around the world. President Bush unleashed chaos and cultivated hatred not only toward the West but among various sects within Islam, who have devolved into a massive religious civil war.
I want to congratulate Edward Snowden, who revealed that the massive scale of the government’s spying operations far exceeded what is legal. On Twitter, Snowden said, ‘People said speaking up isn’t worth the risk. Today, we can see they were wrong. Blow the whistle, change the world.’ I hope this victory inspires more people to have the courage to try changing the world. I also urge President Trump to pardon the courageous American patriot who made this progress possible.
Quite frankly, very few Americans have died from terrorist attacks and we should no longer live in fear or let our policies be guided by blind panic. We should stop killing people in far away places. We should stop foolishly wasting money. We should stop spying on innocent people. We should abandon silly ideas about building a wall and adopt immigration reforms to secure our borders, establish a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens who live here and restore our status as a beacon of freedom.
According to a September 2016 study by Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute, 3,024 Americans died from 1975 through 2015 due to foreign-born terrorism, and almost all of them were victims in the 9/11 attacks by al Qaeda agents perpetrated on September 11, 2001.