Rep. Gohmert gave his views last week on the topic of 1984-style surveillance on his Web site, gohmert.house.gov.
“Over the past few weeks, I have received an overwhelming amount of questions and concerns dealing with National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs. The fact that the government has access to all of our phone records and email accounts is frightening. It is not only a case of massive overreach by this administration, but also a threat to every United States citizen’s constitutional rights.
“Unfortunately, this type of overreach has become all too common under the current administration. Recent scandals have been frequent and disturbing in nature. Whether it is the Internal Revenue Service’s unfair treatment of political adversaries, the Justice Department’s tapping of news reporters, or this latest example within the NSA, this administration has lost the trust of the American people. These overreaching, invasive actions must be stopped, but it is going to be a battle. We have already seen that once any government starts watching its citizens like they are watching a reality TV show, it is very hard to break them of the habit. But, break that habit we must.
“The NSA has abused the powers granted to it by Congress in the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. While this bill was initially passed before the beginning of my time in Congress, I adamantly argued for the inclusion of sunset provisions to force accountability when renewal of the PATRIOT Act came back up. These sunset provisions were critical to enabling adequate oversight, and now it appears dramatic changes must be made or the act must be abolished. The debate was about watching known foreign terrorists or members of known terrorist organizations. I had concerns about how far the Bush administration had pushed the bounds, but now it appears this administration’s spying on its people knows no bounds.
“As a former Judge and Chief Justice, I cannot imagine a judge ever granting a court order for the bulk collection of all the records of a phone company of phone calls inside the United States and all calls to places outside the United States. There should have been specificity, particular descriptions limited to only people of whom there was probable cause to believe a crime had been or was being committed. Yet, the current FISA court granted this Administration’s demand. The court abused its power under the PATRIOT Act in this case and if we don’t rein in the power of the Federal Government, these types of things will most assuredly happen again. There are still people in both parties who even now are advocating that they think what was done is just fine. I do not.
“The will of the majority of the people is precisely in line with the founders’ desires made clear in the Constitution. We don’t want the Federal Government looking through our computers, gathering all the information on every single call we make, or reading our text messages. We should not have to live with the constant concern of government meddling. The PATRIOT Act was intended to protect innocent Americans, not to be used as a weapon against innocent Americans.
“It is clear that we must act to safeguard the rights of American citizens. With an administration that has repeatedly proven untrustworthy and that has sent people to Capitol Hill and to television interviews to perpetuate things they knew were not true, we must do everything in our power to roll back the invasive intrusions by the federal government into our communications and lives as we live them. I certainly welcome your input on these matters, and will represent your positions, but certainly wanted to let you know how it looks from the spot where I am writing this from the home of the newest big brother here in Washington, D.C.”