'Gov't Has Taken Away Freedom Under Cover of Darkness'
Judge Napolitano reacted today to the revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
We heard from Judge Andrew Napolitano this morning on America's Newsroom on the massive data collection being undertaken by the NSA. On Sunday, an NSA whistleblower identified himself and said he is seeking protection from U.S. prosecution in Hong Kong. Last week, based on information from 29-year-old Edward Snowden, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government had a top-secret court order to compile phone data from all U.S. Verizon users, triggering a passionate defense of the program by President Obama on Friday.
Bill Hemmer asked the judge what he thinks we need to understand about what Snowden is telling us.
Judge Napolitano explained that the government has granted itself this sweeping authority without a national debate about how much privacy Americans are willing to sacrifice, arguing that even lawmakers didn't know how massive this intelligence-gathering operation has become. He said the government wants Americans to sacrifice liberty in return for the promise of security, but he cautioned that the trade-off doesn't work.
"It comes as a surprise to members of Congress that somehow bureaucrats in the executive branch are capturing the keystrokes and are recording the telephone conversations of half the country. The president knew it, the attorney general knew it, this misguided judge who signed the warrant for it knew it, but the rest of us didn't. If they want to take that kind of freedom away from us. Stated differently, if we want to give up that freedom, it should be a voluntary surrender after a great national debate. It shouldn't be done under cover of darkness and to our surprise," he said.
Also this morning, Judge Napolitano weighed in on Fox Business Network with Stuart Varney, discussing the legal implications for Snowden. He explained that in order to bring espionage charges, the government will have to make the case that Snowden was knowingly trying to aid an enemy of the United States by disclosing this information.
Napolitano believes it will be much easier for the government to bring a charge of violating a security clearance, though he points out that the government often overcharges so it would not surprise him if they pursued an espionage case.