May 7, 2015—Today the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit found the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of phone data “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.”
Though this ruling means the NSA’s mass surveillance is illegal, it has not been recognized as unconstitutional by the courts. Furthermore, the program is permitted to continue because of sensitivity to “national security” and the fact that the program is set to expire on June 1. It’ll be up to the legislative branch to let it expire, or give it express authorization to continue.
One of the lawmakers engaged in the debate is presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz is generally regarded as an NSA skeptic, and he brands himself as a defender of the 4th Amendment. But his reaction to the court’s ruling shows he is either a useful idiot for the NSA and Obama Administration or a subversive element in the effort to protect privacy and the rule of law.
Here is Cruz’s reaction to today’s ruling:
“The court’s ruling today confirms what the American public already knew: The National Security Agency’s data collection program went too far in collecting the phone records of Americans. Congress should immediately pass the USA FREEDOM Act, of which I am a proud cosponsor, to strike the right balance between privacy rights and national security interests. The USA FREEDOM Act ends the NSA’s unfettered data collection program once and for all, while at the same time preserving the government’s ability to obtain information to track down terrorists when it has sufficient justification and support for doing so.”
Cruz’s first sentence positions him as a voice in sync with his closest challenger in the Republican presidential primary, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. But the next two sentences secure Cruz’s place in the familiar Washington, D.C. tradition of pushing solutions worse than the problems they’re supposed to address.
In promoting the USA Freedom Act, Cruz is confused about both the legislation and the 2nd Circuit’s ruling. Or more likely, he understands them both completely and is hoping his supporters don’t catch on to the finer details.
To get a better understanding, Cruz supporters should read what Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) posted on Facebook about the court decision and the USA Freedom Act:
The government had claimed Section 215 of the Patriot Act was their legal base for launching the NSA program, taking advantage of the word “relevant” in that section and making all Americans’ phone records fall into that category. The 2nd Circuit correctly ruled this illegal. That’s precisely why Amash is against the USA Freedom Act, since that bill expressly authorizes exactly what the court just ruled against.
This wouldn’t be the first time Cruz has misled conservatives skeptical of government overreach in the “national security” arena. While campaigning in Iowa, Cruz trashed Rand Paul for voting No on the USA Freedom Act.
Paul, for his part, encouraged Americans to back his Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act in response to today’s court ruling.
Ambition seems to be more inspiring to Cruz than the words of the 4th Amendment. The USA Freedom Act may very well gain traction as the news of this court decision against the NSA mass surveillance program gets around. But the USA Freedom Act is a fraud, and anyone who votes for it is a fake on the 4th Amendment.
Do you stand with Rand or Ted on the 4th Amendment? Let us know in the comments.
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