NSA spying must be cut back

The report of the working group advising President Obama about the future of NSA eavesdropping, along with the latest decision of a federal court that finds much of the NSA spying unconstitutional, inspires one conclusion: There should be a cutback in the overall level of NSA spying.

Big Brother is everywhere. Personal privacy is virtually dead. The super-secret surveillance state poses a grave threat to freedom. When a conservative libertarian like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) agrees with very liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), there is something profound going on.

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I agree with both of them, and so does the committee chosen by Obama himself, whose advice he should heed. There is something wrong when a secret court makes secret decisions about secret spying with only advocates of the spying allowed to be represented in hearings that resemble a one-sided kangaroo court.

There is something wrong when the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who chooses the members of the court that rules on the legality of spying, packs the court with judges he favors who are biased in favor of the spying they are supposed to adjudicate.

There is something wrong when the big arm of the federal government works with the biggest businesses in the nation and the world to share private data about us.

There is something wrong when heads of state, even American allies such as the chancellor of Germany, become the targets of NSA spying.

How does it fight terrorism to monitor phone calls or emails of the leaders of democratic allies? It does not. There is some need, obviously, for some spying to protect against terrorism. But the magnitude, secrecy and almost obsessive nature of this spying is out of control and must be cut back.

These decisions should not be made by a packed court where only one side is represented in cases argued in secret without evidence made available to the people in our free nation.