A new partnership between rights organizations who oppose massive NSA surveillance of Americans is turning some heads. The conservative National Rifle Association and the generally liberal American Civil Liberties Union have joined forces in a “lawsuit against key Obama administration officials, including director of national intelligence James Clapper, NSA director Keith Alexander, defense secretary Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller”, the Daily Caller reports.
The ACLU originally filed the suit back in June when revelations became public that the NSA was monitoring at least some US phone traffic. Since then the abuse of the program has been revealed further, with some government employees using the NSA spying capabilities to stalk significant others, and check up on family members. The ACLU is interested in protecting Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The NRA, which generally only deals with Second Amendment issues threatening the right to bear arms and protect oneself, has filed a supporting brief in court for the ACLU’s lawsuit. That is because the NRA sees this surveillance as a threat to its enrollment, fearing that the ability of government to listen into phone calls, and see communications of Americans would make people fearful of fraternizing with the NRA.
The mass surveillance program could allow identification of NRA members, supporters, potential members, and other persons with whom the NRA communicates, potentially chilling their willingness to communicate with the NRA.
If programs like those currently justified by the government’s interpretation are allowed to continue and grow unchecked, they could also contrary to clear congressional intent undo decades of legal protection for the privacy of Americans in general, and of gun owners in particular…
And this is a good point that the NRA makes. With everything that is happening, the government now has the ability to discourage political involvement in some organizations. Just look at what happened to the TEA Parties throughout the country, being targeted by the IRS. Other conservatives were audited multiple times for no clear reason, and people are being arrested for making terrorist threats, even if the threat was in rap lyrics. Is it really safe to be a conservative or TEA Partier if you can’t afford an audit? Is it safe to be an NRA member, or a reporter, or a kid who says something stupid if you can’t fight off a DOJ prosecution? And for many, the NSA revelations have made us think twice before sending that text or email.
But isn’t that the point? For years what we are “allowed” to say has been narrowing in scope due to political correctness, and the fear of offending to the point where many want to refer to illegal aliens as undocumented workers. Regardless of whether or not they should become legal inhabitants, they still committed a crime, and ignoring that makes it harder to address the real problems of securing the border. And we now also have to pretend that all cultures and religions are equal, despite the fact that some cultures and religions stone women for showing their ankles, and imprison women for reporting rape. The government trying to curb free speech with intimidation through the IRS and NSA is just the logical next step towards doublespeak.
The less clear our conversations are, the fewer truths that can be communicated from person to person, and the more scared we are to express our true informed opinions, the more the First Amendment will erode. If we continue on the path the government is taking us down there will come a point when the safest thing to do is to not associate with any political groups, not express your opinion, and leave the political process to the “elites”. It is good to see the NRA and ACLU teaming up to stop this trend of suppressing freedom of speech, thought, and action.