Note: Information on judicial rulings on the collection of metadata are taken from this New York Times online article
On December 16, 2013, judge Richard J. Leon in Washington D.C. ruled against the NSA’s collection of mass data (metadata) from telephone calls made by Americans all over the country, saying the practice was “probably unconstitutional” and “almost Orwellian” (“Judge Rules,” NYTimes.com) His reference was to George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, in which he describes a government that controls the people to such great extent that no one could do or say anything without it being recorded by the government. Anyone who spoke or acted contrary to their wishes was called in and corrected. Anyone who refused correction became an “unperson,” which means they were not only killed, but were made to have never existed.
To provide a little background, 1984 is one of several books Orwell wrote exposing the evils of totalitarianism. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, totalitarianism is a “form of government that theoretically permits no individual freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of the individual’s life to the authority of the government” (“Totalitarianism,” britannica.com). The term was coined by Benito Mussolini to describe the fascist state he established during his rule over Italy. By the time of World War II, this term “had become synonymous with absolute and oppressive single-party government” (Ibid.). Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948, reversing the last two numbers to arrive at the proposed year in which such tyrannical dictatorship could come to a democratic society if it is not stopped. This was at the beginning of the cold war, when communist sympathizers were being systematically rooted out of the American government and Hollywood, the era known as McCarthyism. Then the American people had an unhealthy fear of a communist takeover. Today, they have an unhealthy lack of concern of a Socialist takeover.
Judge Leon’s decision should be taken as a warning that our government is moving in the direction of totalitarianism, where the federal government possesses the power to silence all opposing voices, stripping the people of the very freedoms America was birthed to protect. The warning is all the more important when we realize that our current President is a Socialist in practice, whether he self-identifies as such or not.
But why does this even matter, since a judge ruled against it? Because upon appeal, a federal judge from New York ruled on December 27 that the IRS collection of metadata was legal. The decision, from Judge William H. Pauley III, is the polar opposite of Judge Leon’s. In fact, one law professor compared the difference between the two decisions to matter and antimatter (“Judge Rules”).
How can two judges interpret the law so radically differently? Can we really be confident that our judges are rendering decisions based on the rule of law? Are we entering a time in America’s history where judges are the most partial members of our government, where the political leaning or personal agenda of a judge has more influence than the nuances of the case in determining its outcome?
Are we really moving toward an Orwellian society, where the government spies on all our activities and silences all opposition? That seems impossible as long as the Constitution is in effect. But the system is already set up that way. If Barak Obama has taught us anything, it is that there are ways around the Constitution if you have an agenda to push. The fact is, our government can now legally listen in on every phone call you or I make and read every text we send or receive. The moment the government wants to weed out the conservatives or the Christians from its society, it has all the means necessary to identify and locate them, and also to silence and perhaps arrest them, and they can use the IRS to do it.
Surely you are aware that recently, the IRS targeted conservative groups, specifically looking for terms such as “Tea Party” and “patriot” to identify conservatives in order to discriminate against them through unequal application of tax laws. That scandal was exposed, so President Obama is now trying to alter the IRS rules so the IRS can continue targeting conservative groups. For an explanation of the proposed IRS rule change from a conservative viewpoint, see here. According to the Fox News online service, “The Obama administration launched an attempt Tuesday [Nov 26] to limit the same class of politically active non-profit groups the IRS was accused of targeting last summer” (“IRS Moves,” Foxnews.com).
This proposed rule change would prevent tax-exempt organizations under the 501(c)(4) umbrella from engaging in political activity near the time of an election. Fox news notes that, “smaller organizations that are similarly classified were the subject of unfair targeting practices earlier this year by IRS employees, leading to the eventual resignations of several senior IRS officials” (Ibid.).
Attorney Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), says of the proposed law: “This is a feeble attempt by the Obama Administration to justify its own wrong-doing with the IRS targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups…the Obama Administration is determined to further limit the free speech of Americans by attempting to change constitutional practices that are decades old” (Ibid.).
Obama has already stated that he will exempt certain groups from this new rule. It just so happens that the exempt groups – for example, labor unions and trade organizations – consist of mostly liberal organizations. So much for equal application of IRS laws. When the President has the ability to isolate the people and groups who oppose him, and the power to use the IRS as a political weapon against them, our freedoms are in jeopardy.
Whether or not the government wants to weed out conservatives or Christians is not even the point. The fact that they can should put a healthy fear into all of us, liberals included. A different President might use the system to root out liberals or atheists or Muslims. What the current administration is doing is very bad for everybody in America.
I write this not as a piece of political activism, but as a prophetic warning to the church of America. This is a call for prayer and action. We need to unite and pray for God to reverse the direction our nation is heading. Without divine intervention, things will continue down this slippery slope. Putting our hope in a Republican president in two years is another slippery slope of its own. What we need is not a Republican in office but a divine intervention. I personally believe that religious freedom will soon be more restricted in America than it is in China unless God sends another Great Awakening, a Jesus revolution that transforms society from the inside out. That is my prayer and I hope it is yours.
Adam Liptak and Michael S. Schmidt, “Judge Upholds NSA’s Bulk Collection of Data on Calls,” New York Times Online, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/28/us/nsa-phone-surveillance-is-lawful-federal-judge-rules.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131228&_r=0. Last accessed December 28, 2013.
Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, “Totalitarianism,” Encyclopedia Britannica Online, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/600435/totalitarianism. Last accessed December 28, 2013.
Tom Tancredo, “Obama Doubles Down on IRS Intimidation” http://www.wnd.com/2013/11/obama-doubles-down-on-irs-intimidation/. Last accessed December 28, 2013.
Foxnews.com, “IRS Moves To Limit Tax-Exempt Groups after Targeting Scandal,” November 27, 2013, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/27/irs-pushes-to-rein-in-tax-exempt-political-groups/. Last accessed December 28, 2013.