National Security Letters the Muted Danger

I recently ran across something that I honestly hadn’t heard about yet. It is a bone-chilling example of how we are either losing (or are in the process of losing) our individual rights.

Before I discuss this latest atrocity, let me say something: Every time I sound a warning, there are always some people who dismiss it. They say they’re willing to give up their individual rights in exchange for safety. I fear that we have fallen so fast and so far, our nation may never recover from it if we don’t act immediately.

If you are about to say that you’re happy giving away your freedoms for security, first contemplate the reality of this. Take it one step further and envision what the government can do with such tremendous power. The framers of our Constitution certainly did, and that’s why they crafted it as carefully as they could. Are we smarter than Benjamin Franklin? Better than Thomas Jefferson? Wiser than George Washington?


Our society may have advanced, but the individual has actually regressed, both in education and in courage. This dumbing down of America has created a nation of sheep, not wolves.

If our people were suddenly transported back in time, the American Revolution would never have happened. Men would sneer at George Washington’s leadership, and refuse to fight or slog through the snow without shoes, as his dedicated soldiers did. Families would decline to undergo the sacrifices that were expected of the colonials at that time. “What? Go without luxuries?” we would cry. “Bring on the taxes!”

If our people were transported to WW2, we would be speaking German now and concentration camps would be as normal as nightclubs.

Until we stand up and write our local congressional representatives, we will not be able to fight this insidious decline.

So, what has alarmed me to such a degree?

Recently the Washington Post ran an article written anonymously by a man who has been subjected to a National Security Letter issued by the FBI.

I had never heard of a National Security Letter. Until recently, they didn’t exist. But the Patriot Act has given the FBI untold and never before experienced powers. As the article states:

“The Justice Department’s inspector general revealed on March 9 (2007) that the FBI has been systematically abusing one of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act: the expanded power to issue “national security letters.” It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision – demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval – to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents.”

Furthermore, these letters are accompanied by gag orders, so the recipient cannot discuss it with anyone besides his attorney(s). The writer says, “Without the gag orders issued on recipients of the letters, it is doubtful that the FBI would have been able to abuse the NSL power the way that it did.”

Although the Patriot Act specified that the FBI was to keep Congress fully informed, it did not. The report revealed that “the FBI significantly underrepresented the number of NSL requests in 2003, 2004 and 2005.”

Please take this latest revelation seriously. Simply because you aren’t a terrorist does not make you immune. Some day the government may suddenly decide it doesn’t like you because you’re Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, gay, straight, dark skinned, light skinned, conservative or liberal. And that day can come at any time. We have seen this proven repeatedly throughout history, and we have seen how quickly we are losing our rights in just these years that President Bush has been in office.

As a nation, we have made a step in the right direction: We have elected a Congress that may push back. We need to encourage them. We can no longer merely elect someone and then sit back and wait. We all must act.

As Benjamin Franklin said during the crafting of the Constitution, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”