Put Yourself in the Government’s Shoes

Photo: John Nyberg

Photo: John Nyberg

…Just bear in mind that those shoes might cost a good $16 trillion, give or take.

So, not surprisingly, the ever-steadfast State apologist Lindsey Graham doesn’t balk at the idea of a secret, warrantless NSA seizure of phone records: “I am a Verizon customer,” he recently said. “You can have my phone number, and put it in a database.” And if they ever caught him talking with “some guy from Waziristan,” Graham added, they ought to be allowed to pry without probable cause because… well… he’s talking with some fella from around Pakistan… (Hey, Lindsey – is there good cell phone reception in the Wazir mountains?)

There’s no wonder at all why a court order from the NSA like this would be kept classified. If the practice had been revealed openly, as a choice for Verizon to agree with rather than a compulsory order, it would immediately have been seen as a gross violation of privacy. Monitoring call history is just as heinous an offense as wiretapping, something which the late Murray Rothbard rightly compared to robbing someone else’s home.

Does anyone – even a purveyor of institutionalized force – have the right to seize my paper phone bill? No. Not without a warrant, at least. So, why does that suddenly change just because my phone call information is logged in a digital database? Is it merely because Dianne Feinstein tells us “it’s been approved”?

Let’s grant for a moment that Feinstein’s right. Well, okay. If a government employee really has the right to tap my phone line and monitor my call activity without actual lawful authority, then any citizen also has the right to tap any government phone line and monitor government call activity. Who, after all, has had a more chummy and affectionate relationship with Middle Eastern militants than the U.S. government?