Mr. Matt Salmon
United States Representative for the 5th District of Arizona
In recent weeks we have seen a number of stories in the media outlining our government’s broad and pervasive disregard for the privacy of American citizens. These reports describe the Justice department secretly obtaining phone records of journalists at the Associated Press, FISA court orders requiring Verizon to turn over all call detail records for every call originating or terminating in the United States, and the NSA having broad access to American’s email via large service providers computer systems.
I do not have sufficient information or expertise to make a judgement as to whether these programs are technically legal or not. Regardless of their legality, I believe such intrusions by our government are wrong. I do not feel “secure in [my] persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”, as articulated in the Fourth Amendment. I understand the need to balance privacy with national security, but today we have a secret court issuing orders prohibiting others from disclosing the fact that they are compelled to provide information to the government, and intelligence officials who blatantly lie to congressional oversight committees. Our government has overstepped its bounds.
As my representative, you are in a unique position to represent my views in the Congress. I strongly urge you to support, and participate in, a Congressional investigation to uncover the full breadth and scope of government surveillance of the people of this country. I have no interest in political blame casting, I believe administrations of both political parties have overstepped their bounds. I desire not only investigation but action, and Congressional action is the only way to reign in these abuses of power. I implore you to support legislative measures that both increase public visibility into the information gathering activities of the government, and limit the information that can be gathered without probable cause.
I fully expect to hear your views on this matter, and will be deeply disappointed if the only response I receive is a thank-you-for-writing-mr-salmon-thinks-your-issue-is-important boilerplate from a junior staffer.
Update 5 August 2013
I received the attached letter (pdf) from Representative Matt Salmon. Thanks Mr. Salmon for the real response.