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GUEST OPINION: Local lawmakers should oppose NSA spying on Americans

Revelations about the Obama administration’s secret surveillance of American citizens are causing widespread alarm.

While some members of Congress from Northern California have publicly addressed the matter, the two from our area have so far failed to speak up after news broke about the spying by the National Security Agency. Why so much silence from Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Santa Rosa, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants us to believe that the NSA’s snooping on our telephone records is no big deal because it’s “metadata.” Yet in this era of supercomputers, such information is highly intrusive.

Despite the Fourth Amendment, a dragnet is pulling in huge quantities of personal information without anything near “probable cause.”

Make no mistake about it: The government is compiling vast data on the phone calls placed and received by everyone in the United States — you, me, my mother, your grandmother, your daughter’s fiancée.

Whoever compiles this metadata can learn a great deal about us: whom we called, who they called, when the calls took place and how long they lasted, where the calls originated and where the recipients were located. It’s as intrusive as listening in on the actual content of the calls.

The Press Democrat wisely wrote in its June 13 editorial: “Contrary to the contentions of some, we don’t believe that living in a digital age and in a time of terrorism obligates Americans to abandon a presumption of privacy.”

Progressive Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, representing the East Bay, said: “The right to privacy in this country is non-negotiable. We have a system of checks and balances in place to protect our most basic civil liberties, and while I believe that national security is paramount, we must move forward in a way that does not sacrifice our American values and freedoms.”

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