In almost all cases, those who oppose the national government’s universal surveillance of U.S. citizens are correct. It is unconstitutional because it violates the 4th Amendment, undermines the 1st Amendment, and is only necessary because the national government has put the United States in a lose/lose situation. It will not stop the U.S.-led overseas military, political, and cultural interventions that motivate the Islamists to attack Americans, but it will not use the U.S. military to its fullest potential to destroy the enemy it has motivated to kill Americans. So long as this status quo continues, the civil liberties of Americans will be incrementally abridged and perhaps ultimately eliminated. That is simply the unavoidable result of prolonged and unnecessary wars, and the executive branch’s aggrandizement of power that inevitably accompanies such wars.
There is, however, one focus for surveillance that is absolutely necessary, constitutional, and ought to be demanded by all citizens. That is the surveillance of U.S. elected officials who travel to Israel or any other foreign country to develop plans with foreign leaders to undermine any sitting president of the United States. The 4th Amendment clearly was not meant to assure privacy rights for those who publicly demonstrate a flamboyant and war-worsening disloyalty to the nation.
It must be clear by now that I carry no brief for Obama. But the travel of nearly one hundred members of the Senate and House from both parties to Israel in summer, 2015, to privately collude with Netanyahu, the Israeli government, and other Israeli leaders against Obama’s useless Iran deal must not be accepted as “politics as usual”. Those elected representatives, in my opinion, were publicly engaged in giving what the Constitution describes as “aid and comfort” to the enemy, which Israel clearly is so long as one of its principle goals is to keep the United States involved in its eternal war with Islam, a war in which America has no genuine national-security interest at stake and yet is bleeding the republic to death.
So, in regard to this kind of surveillance, I believe it is an entirely appropriate and constitutional to monitor U.S. senators and congressmen — and their staffers — who travel abroad to privately meet with and seek support from foreign governments for their opposition to a sitting U.S. president and, ultimately, to win political advantage for themselves. Indeed, I would support surveillance against the same representatives and staffers when they privately meet with Netanyahu or any other foreign leader in the United States, if that meeting had not been ordered or approved in advance by the White House and the State Department.
In all cases of such surveillance, the verbatim transcripts of the conversations should be made available for publication on a non-partisan website, perhaps the one belonging to the League of Women Voters or a similar organization. We could start with the transcripts of the conversations of the senior Republican and the senior Democrat who traveled to meet Netanyahu in Israel on the Iran deal and plot with him against their own president and nation.
It is immensely important that all citizens know whatever it is possible to know about their elected representatives’ deliberate and too often successful efforts to secure foreign assistance — and probably foreign funding — to influence political/diplomatic decisions, public opinion, and national elections in the United States. On the face of it, moreover, there seems to be no option but to conclude that this sort of behavior by leading members of both parties and pro-Israel organizations like AIPAC comes pretty close to the Constitution’s definition of treason, as well as displaying an appalling willingness to compromise America’s independence of action for partisan political gain.
If that is not the case, the immediate publication of the above-mentioned transcripts ought to be demanded and welcomed by the senators and congressman who traveled to Israel in 2015.