Curbs on Surveillance State Urged

Human eye with digital binary code (Shutterstock)

In the post 9/11 era, the U.S. government vastly expanded its surveillance of nearly everyone on earth, even U.S. citizens, brushing aside constitutional protections in the name of security. A group of intelligence veterans urges reform of those practices to protect privacy and to stop the waste of resources. 

MEMORANDUM FOR: Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Subject: Two Administrations and Congress Dismantled the Constitution — How Can It Be Restored? 

Drastic Erosion of Citizen Privacy Since 9/11

Since the events of September 11, 2001, actions by successive U.S. administrations — backed by legislation such as the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) — have eroded privacy provisions guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Lawsuits challenging these actions have languished, with the U.S. Supreme Court having declined to hear the one case to reach it for review,Clapper vs. Amnesty International.

Post-9/11 DOJ Legal Opinions Roll Back Rights

How did America manage to arrive at such a wretched state of affairs? Following the 9/11 attack, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice issued a series of legal opinionsasserting that the President’s commander-in-chief powers vis-a-vis the so-called “Global War on Terror” were not to be challenged by the legislative or judicial branches. The DOJ based its opinion regarding the President’s executive power on its broad interpretation of Article 2 of the Constitution.

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