We shouldn’t become a police state

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If you object to the National Security Agency collecting all your emails and phone messages, you are among a majority of Americans, according to a recent McClatchy-Marist poll. If you think that you have a right to know that the government is spying on you, thank Edward Snowden, who revealed the secret program.

If you think that this activity violates the privacy protections of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, you are correct. If you have heard that President Obama has said that such collection of information without a warrant is legal, recall that President Bush said that CIA torture methods were legal. If you think that members of Congress should know about the existence of this surveillance program, ask why James Clapper, director of national security, was not fired when he stated before a congressional committee that the government does not collect data on millions of Americans.

In response to public outrage about NSA activity, an amendment was proposed to the defense authorization bill in the House of Representatives, which would have stopped all funding for the NSA warrantless spying programs. Despite strong opposition from the administration and leaders of both parties in the House, the amendment failed by only 12 votes. All New Mexico representatives, including Ben Ray Luján, voted for the amendment, and must be congratulated for their courage.

Concerning Edward Snowden ... many US officials and writers in the mainstream media already have declared him guilty without a trial of committing espionage. In his defense, Amnesty International has stated, “Snowden is a whistleblower. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world. And yet instead of addressing or even owning up to these actions, the US government is more intent on going after Edward Snowden.”

Snowden has the right under international human rights law to seek asylum in another country. The U.S. government violated this right when it revoked his passport and pressured other countries to refuse him asylum. A recent unanimous vote in a Senate committee stated that sanctions should be imposed on any country that offers Snowden asylum.  Even Sen. Tom Udall, who otherwise has an excellent record in supporting human rights, voted for that illegal measure.

Our safety can be preserved without our becoming a surveillance state.  We must demand that our government stop NSA spying without cause and end the persecution of Edward Snowden.

Robert E. Pearson