Skip to main content

Exclusive: Stop the NSA while we still can

By Rand Paul, Matt Kibbe and Ken Cuccinelli
updated 12:08 PM EST, Wed February 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sen. Rand Paul argues that NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens is a violation of the Constitution
  • He is suing the administration to end "blanket collection of Americans' telephone metadata"
  • He condemns the policy from "the overzealous powers that be in Washington"

Editor's note: Rand Paul is a Republican senator representing Kentucky. Matt Kibbe is president and CEO of FreedomWorks. Ken Cuccinelli is former attorney general of Virginia and a former Republican candidate for governor. Paul will be on Erin Burnett Out Front Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET .

(CNN) -- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

This is the beginning of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and defines one of the most important rights we have against a potentially tyrannical government.

Throughout history, governments have used the confiscation of private property, as well as bullying and surveillance techniques, to keep populations under control and maintain a continuous threat against those who would dare criticize them.

The explicit enshrinement of the right to be left alone is one of the crucial features that has defined America as such a unique and moral nation.

Rand Paul to sue Obama administration over NSA

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul

In recent years, however, this right, like so many others, has come under attack by the overzealous powers that be in Washington, eager to sacrifice liberty in the name of security, and using fear as a weapon to make us forget the importance of being free.

In 2013, the revelation that the National Security Agency was collecting and storing the metadata from the phone calls and e-mails of millions of American citizens -- without any suspicion of criminal activity -- served as a striking wake-up call for the country.

Americans do not like to think of their government as some Orwellian leviathan, engaging in surveillance tactics that we only expect to see in oppressive autocracies. That such surveillance could be going on in what is ostensibly the freest nation in the world is a chilling thought indeed.

Since 2006, the NSA has been spying on us, treating American citizens as no more than common criminals, casting suspicion on honest people with not even a whisper of criminal activity about them. These are not the actions befitting a country that was once held up as a paragon of freedom and a model for the rest of the world.

Online, live protests target NSA surveillance

We are told that these intrusive and unconstitutional measures are necessary to protect us from the forces of international terrorism. We are told that a surrender of our privacy rights is a small price to pay for the knowledge that we can sleep safe and secure in our beds.

Sen. Rand Paul takes on the Clintons
NSA surveillance revelations
Boss: Snowden worst spy in U.S. history

We reject this premise. We are committed to a safe America, but we do not accept the notion that a surveillance state is necessary to safeguard the lives and liberty of American citizens.

These assurances of the necessity to give up a little privacy for the sake of safety are made all the less convincing by the fact that, after more than seven years, the NSA has been unable to provide any evidence that the collection of telephone metadata from Americans has led to the prevention of even a single terrorist attack.

There can be no justification for the preservation of a domestic surveillance program that has utterly failed in its stated goals.

In addition to the NSA's privacy violations, the existence of government spying serves as a significant obstacle toward citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech.

We have already seen government agencies like the IRS specifically target law-abiding citizens for their political views. The willingness of ordinary people to criticize the government will be greatly compromised by being under the constant, watchful eye of the government, and anyone deemed guilty of suspicious activity may consider an audit the least of their worries.

For all these reasons, we have elected to file a class action suit on behalf of all Americans whose rights have been violated by the NSA's unconstitutional spying programs.

We are requesting a ruling confirming that the blanket collection of Americans' telephone metadata without reasonable cause violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and requiring that these programs be halted immediately and that all previously collected data be purged from government databases.

It's time to hold government officials accountable for their habitual trampling on the Constitution and on our rights as individuals. Our case will be an important step down the road of restoring our Constitution and reining in our own overreaching federal government.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sen. Rand Paul, Matt Kibbe and Ken Cuccinelli.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT