Despite admitting that the National Security “vacuums up information about virtually every telephone call to, from, or within the United States,” William Pauley, a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, decreed last week that the NSA’s dragnet approach is constitutional because, well, he believes that it is necessary.
As William Pitt the Younger observed, “necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
The world is an inherently dangerous place. The idea that the government can protect us is patently absurd. All the government can do is to destroy our liberties while promoting theillusion of safety.
President Dwight Eisenhower acknowledged this fact when he said that if you wanted real safety, go to prison. You get three meals and a bunk. Heck, you even get government health care. The only thing missing is freedom.
What Ike did not say is that in prison you are at the mercy of those guarding you. Unfortunately, this fact is lost on Judge Pauley, who wrote, “there is no evidence that the government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks.”
What matters is not whether the government has used this information for nefarious purposes, but whether it now has the ability to engage in such behavior.
We often hear that “it” can’t happen here. “It,” of course, refers to outright tyranny and State oppression. The reason that “it” couldn’t happen is that certain safeguards were built into the system. Namely, our Bill of Rights.