A bipartisan group of Senators who aren’t satisfied with the National Security Agency’s (NSA) answers on a whole host of questions, recently sent a letter to the agency trying to get some more definite answers. The Senators, led by Ron Wyden (D-OR), asked whether or not the NSA was collecting (or had collected) data that went beyond simple phone records. Data like gun purchases.
The Senators were troubled that the actions of the NSA could have allowed them to collect bulk data that the government should not be privy to.
“It can be used to collect information on credit card purchases, pharmacy records, library records, firearm sales records, financial information, and a range of other sensitive subjects. And the bulk collection authority could potentially be used to supersede bans on maintaining gun owner databases, or laws protecting the privacy of medical records, financial records, and records of book and movie purchases.”
The Senators are worried that the NSA’s understanding of their legal limits and boundaries may be quite different than that of the American people. The problem is that much of the guidelines that our more clandestine agencies are using have been developed in secret and do not have any oversight until someone uncovers malfeasance.
Operating in this manner, many agencies may indeed be breaking the law simply because they understand the law to give them certain freedoms that they do not actually have.
In other words, because of the Patriot Act and other similar legislation that our government is using to fight the war on terror, certain government agencies may actually be breaking the law and diminishing the Constitution simply because they interpret the law wrong deciding that it gives them more power than it really does.
We have already seen that the NSA has completely disregarded our rights under the 4th Amendment; if they thought it could keep a terrorist attack from happening why wouldn’t they violate our 1st or 2nd Amendment too? This could be exactly what is happening now. The letter drafted by the Senators is broader than this, but the information the NSA has been consuming may allow them to build a partial (but very large) national gun registry, allowing the government to know which law abiding citizens have firearms, and what type of firearms they have.
A spokesman for Senator Mike Lee, who signed on to the letter as well, said it best:
“In this country, the government can’t just monitor your constitutionally protected activities—like gun ownership—just because it wants to “The justification that, ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry about it,’ turns us into a police state very quickly. That’s why Congress is right to seek broad oversight of the NSA’s data collection programs.”
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