‘US Constitution makes no exception for national security’

Warrantless monitoring of the internet traffic and phone calls of all Americans is a real problem and a blatant violation of the US Constitution, Ivan Eland, analyst and Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute policy group told RT.

Ivan Eland spoke with RT regarding the legal implications of the recently uncovered vast and warrantless surveillance program known as PRISM.

RT:Do you sleep more soundly at night as an American citizen, knowing that all this data - your data - is being captured and stored?

Ivan Eland: No I don’t. I think this is a real violation of the US Constitution. Even the Democrats are saying this is legal, it’s been checked out by Congress – but that doesn’t wash when it violates the direct provisions of the US Constitution, which states that any warrant cannot be a general warrant. In other words, they can’t go mining for things, which is what they are doing. And also, there has to be a probable cause that there has been a crime committed – well, every citizen in America can’t be suspected of being a criminal. Now, they say they're not listening into the conversations. But the Constitution does not say anything about that, it just says if it is a search – and this is a search, and it is clearly unconstitutional, even though the Patriot Act, which has unconstitutional portions of it, okay’s it. So I think it is a very bad thing, and there is another program that actually does capture emails, the content of emails, photos of people overseas – also captures Americans as well.

RT:But why the fuss over this now? I mean as we heard from our correspondent it’s been ongoing for the last seven years, since 2006, why is this causing a rumpus now?

IE: Well, I don’t think they realized that this was so widespread. There was some suspicion of it, and some senators had been raising cryptic comments. But of course the problem is the whole thing is classified, and we have to rely on these senators and the bureaucracy itself, the National Security Agency, to tell us everything is okay and it’s under wraps, but I’m telling you if they’re taking, if they’re monitoring traffic of all Americans that’s a real problem. It’s a blatant violation of the US Constitution.

RT:Well, they say that one major terrorist plot has been thwarted because of PRISM, surely that’s good enough to carry it on, isn’t it?

IE: No, it’s not. And the US Constitution makes no exception for national security, and terrorism specifically. By the way, you’re chances if you’re an American of ever being killed by a terrorist are about the same as getting killed by an asteroid or lightning. Terrorism is a very rare event, the government invests way too much effort in preventing terrorism. And, therefore, I’m sorry but even if this is true  – and I’m skeptical that this [PRISM[ really led to the arrest and foiling of a terrorist plot – but even if it did, it’s unconstitutional and they have to amend the constitution to do it.