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Article posted Jul 31 2013, 2:30 AM Category: Commentary Source: Jacob G. Hornberger Print

Why Not Just Abolish the NSA?

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Notice that all the public discussion about the NSA's super-secret, massive surveillance scheme assumes that the NSA has become a permanent part of American life. The debate revolves around what restrictions, if any, should be placed on the NSA's authority to spy on people.

But the real question that Americans should be debating is: Why not simply abolish the NSA?

The NSA was brought into existence as part of the national-security state apparatus that was engrafted onto our constitutional order to fight the Cold War against America's World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union. This apparatus brought a fundamental change in our constitutional order and it was done without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. (See my 12-part series, The Evil of the National-Security State.)

But the Cold War is over. It ended more than a decade ago. Why do we need a gigantic, super-secret, Cold War-era spy agency in our midst?

NSA proponents say that despite the end of the Cold War, the NSA is still necessary to "keep us safe."

Really? Safe from what? Safe from the dangers that the two other major components of the national-security state -- the military and the CIA -- produce through their policies and programs overseas! At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that's quite a racket.

Recall that immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the first thing that national-security state officials said was that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America's "freedom and values."

That was palpable nonsense. The real motive was rooted in anger and hatred over the horrific things that the U.S. government had been doing to people in the Middle East, especially since the end of the Cold War, when the national-security state lost its official enemy -- communism -- the enemy that had been used to justify the existence and expansion of the national-security state for some 40 years.

The anger and hatred that was inducing foreigners to join the terrorist ranks was the last thing that U.S. officials wanted Americans to focus upon. If Americans figured out that it was U.S. foreign policy at the hands of the national-security state that was responsible for the constant threat of terrorism, then they might begin asking critical questions: Why not end foreign aid and foreign interventionism? Why not dismantle America’s vast military empire, the military-industrial-congressional complex, and the CIA, along with the NSA? Why not limit the U.S. government to the defense of the country, much like the Swiss government does for Switzerland?

The most important question that Americans need to be asking themselves is: Does the national-security state have any role in a free society?

The Founding Fathers certainly didn't think so. Their deep antipathy to standing armies was, in fact, based on the grave threat to freedom and economic prosperity that standing armies present. Moreover, given their fervent opposition to meddling in the affairs of other countries, they would never have countenanced a super-secret paramilitary organization like the CIA. And given their ardent commitment to liberty and privacy, our Founding Fathers certainly would never have permitted a super-secret spy agency like the NSA to exist in our country.

Anyway, what good does the NSA do at this point? How can it honestly purport to "keep us safe" with a massive surveillance scheme that everyone concedes isn't going to catch any terrorists, given that terrorists are not going to be using emails and cell phones to organize their plans. All that the NSA is left with is a massive surveillance scheme that keeps track of the American people but not terrorists.

When the Cold War ended, Americans had a grand opportunity to bring an end to the Cold War national-security state apparatus. Now that the United States has ended its occupation of Iraq and is ending its occupation of Afghanistan, that opportunity is once again presenting itself. What better time to seize that the opportunity, in order to restore a peaceful, harmonious, free, and prosperous society to our land?
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at and from Full Context. Send him email.

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Comments 1 - 4 of 4 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Jul 31 2013, 1:57 PM

9822 To abolish the NSA is a worthwhile goal and the fulfillment of which would be the greatest day in modern American history. I also agree with President Kennedy that the CIA needs to be dismantled. My question is how do we effect any contraction of government at any level? Our collective reliance on government instead of God negates any opportunity. A lot of Republicans are under the impression that we are on the verge of imminent attack from some vague conglomeration of "terrorist" which necessitates the expansion of the police state. Most Democrats will gladly give their approval to any degree of government intrusion for the promise of a few bread crumbs and free cheese (or cell phones), and of course anything the government gives away free will always come with terms and conditions leading to the growth of behemoth.
Seems like an awful lot of Americans are willing to follow the government's pied piper into the gas chamber if the piper only tells them it will keep them safe and there will be free cheese on the other side.
Nickel's 2 Bits

Posted: Aug 01 2013, 1:17 AM

678 @h1976: fulfillment of which would be the greatest day...

Nonsense. It'd have all the effect of spitting in the ocean.

Posted: Aug 01 2013, 11:33 AM

9820 @Nickel's 2 Bits "It'd have all the effect of spitting in the ocean."
Since spitting in the ocean will have an immeasurable effect on the ocean you have equated that the elimination of the entire NSA organization will have an imperceptible effect on national security. Therefore, it is only logical that if the effect of its elimination is imperceptible then the effect of its activities are imperceptible too.
But there is more. We need look beyond the intrusive and just plain creepiness of having someone listening to our phone calls and monitoring our emails. As a country that is trillions of dollars in debt we should practice a little pecuniary austerity. With an annual budget most likely in the billions, the elimination of this three letter agency is a good start. (Due to the overlap and redundancy of the three letter agencies we really need to eliminate more than one.) We also have state and local investigative and enforcement organizations, and the American people to protect America.
It'd be nice to leave future generations a strong middle class and in good financial shape. That's not going to happen with the present government policy of spending money like there's no tomorrow.
People need to trust God and treat each other the way they want to be treated. When you do that, the world isn't a scary place.

Posted: Aug 01 2013, 1:40 PM


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