Thank you for contacting me regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I appreciate hearing from you.
I strongly support individual freedoms and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
At the same time, the number one priority of the federal government is to protect the people of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Really? I thought that Risch swore to uphold the Constitution, not “I swear to uphold the Constitution as long as it strikes the proper balance with the other objectives I might have.” And what if it is the case that it is the federal government itself that is the greatest harm to the people of the United States? It is beyond unlikely that Jim Risch will do anything to protect us from it.
When Congress considers the means to achieve our national security objectives, it must balance individual liberties on the one hand and the government law enforcement powers on the other. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I am acutely aware of this challenge.
I am as sick and tired as anyone of hearing this balancing of liberty and security
argument claim. Why is it accepted as a foregone conclusion that “more government = more safety”? I would argue that the burden of proof is on those who would force us to do things we would otherwise not to show that they are so prudent and wise that they are able to measure our own desire for security better than we are.
Letters like yours help remind me of the importance of our constitutional rights. I, too, share your skepticism of an enormously powerful federal government. Everything I do here representing Idahoans reflects my belief that our current government bears constant scrutiny. The Founding Fathers knew, or at least, strongly suspected, that as government grew, Americans would have to be consistently vigilant to guard against the kind of tyrannical government they had experienced. I may not always win, but my commitment to you is that I will always fight to overcome that tyranny.
I’m wondering what tyranny Risch is imagining the early Americans have to experienced from the British because there is no possible way that the British crown could have exercised the same power and control over colonists as the US government does today. In just about every way one could measure tyranny, the US government is far worse than the British colonial government.
Also curious is how Risch takes the growing of government for granted; this seems Jeffersonian in the way that Jefferson said that the natural tendency is liberty to yield and government to gain ground. But notice how Jefferson took liberty as a direct antithesis to government. Risch does not.
As your U.S. senator, I am committed to defending the rights of the people as guaranteed by our Constitution. After reviewing all the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, I concluded the bill strikes the right balance and keeps the American people both free and safe. [emphasis added]
It seems that he forgot to mention FISA’s implications for the 4th Amendment, the full text of which reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Notice what he neglected to include in his partial quote of it above: all of the requirements involving warrants, probable clause, oath or affirmation by a magistrate, and particular descriptions. Why? Probably because the FISA courts erode all of these things.
I really value your effort to get in touch with me to share your thoughts, as many Idahoans do. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or other issues.
Very Truly Yours
James E. Risch
United States Senator