In my latest column, I criticized Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for flipping and flopping on national security policy and moving between extreme isolationism to apparently being willing to consider a military attack against Iran under certain circumstances. Today I emphasize that I largely agree with Paul in his opposition to excessive National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping, which I believe has gotten out of control.
There is something wrong when the NSA spies on Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, a strong American ally. While the president has apparently ordered that this spying against Merkel end, how and why was it initiated in the first place?
There is something wrong when our intelligence services are apparently not aware of a large and open-air organizational meeting of al Qaeda, which the terrorists revealed in their own video, while electronic eavesdropping continues on massive levels that not only violates the privacy of countless millions of citizens, but takes attention away from urgent missions against terrorists who felt safe meeting in the open.
And there is something very wrong about creating a super-secret, super-surveiliance state that is not what America's founders intended.
It is time for a profound and serious national debate that will lead to significant cutbacks in an NSA spying project that has taken on a life of its own, outside our democratic process, alien to the values we stand for, and harmful to our national security and our national ideals.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.