In a Wall Street Journal op-ed posted earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) quoted President Obama: "In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother...but when you actually look at the details, I think we've struck the right balance." Then Paul made clear that Nero is constitutionally unbalanced.
"How many records did the NSA seize from Verizon?" asks Paul. "Hundreds of millions. We are now learning about more potential mass data collections by the government from other communications and online companies. These are the 'details,' and few Americans consider this approach 'balanced,' though many rightly consider it Orwellian....
"What is objectionable is a system in which government has unlimited and privileged access to the details of our private affairs, and citizens are simply supposed to trust that there won't be any abuse of power. This is an absurd expectation. Americans should trust the National Security Agency as much as they do the IRS and Justice Department.
"Monitoring the records of as many as a billion phone calls, as some news reports have suggested, is no modest invasion of privacy. It is an extraordinary invasion of privacy. We fought a revolution over issues like generalized warrants, where soldiers would go from house to house, searching anything they liked. Our lives are now so digitized that the government going from computer to computer or phone to phone is the modern equivalent of the same type of tyranny that our Founders rebelled against....
"To protect against the invasion of Americans' privacy, I have introduced the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act. I introduced similar Fourth Amendment protections in December and again just last month. Both measures would have prevented the data-mining we're now seeing, but both bills were rejected by the Senate. We will see if this time my colleagues will vote to support the Constitution that they all took an oath to uphold.
"I am also looking into a class-action lawsuit to overturn the decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that allowed for this to happen. I will take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. My office has already heard much enthusiasm for this action.
"The administration has responded to the public uproar by simply claiming that it is allowed to have unlimited access to all Americans' private information. This response is a clear indication that the president views our Constitutional "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" as null and void.
"If this is the new normal in America, then Big Brother certainly is watching and it's not hyperbolic or extreme to say so. Nor is it unreasonable to fear which parts of the Constitution this government will next consider negotiable or negligible."