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 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 8:17 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT