In the last 24 hours, it has been revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been indiscriminately monitoring all Verizon phone records for the past seven years.
The stunning revelation sent Fox News host Shep Smith and Judge Andrew Napolitano into a frenzy on Thursday. In fact, Napolitano said it represented the “most extraordinarily broad search warrant ever issued in the history of the federal courts of the United States.”
Lawmakers like Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday tried to downplay the bombshell report, arguing that such surveillance has been going on for a long time and as long as you aren’t talking to terrorists, you have nothing to worry about.
“Harry Reid says we should just calm down Judge,” Smith began.
He went on to mock Reid’s position: “This has been going on a long time, they’ve been able stop some sort of terrorism, this, that or the other thing. So just don’t worry about it, just relax everybody.”
Napolitano said the “screwy” law allows the executive branch to tell select members of Congress about secret domestic surveillance programs, but prohibits them from telling other members of Congress or the American people.
“Just because Harry Reid knew about this for seven years and it’s been going on for seven years does not mean it’s constitutionally permissible,” Napolitano said. “This is a fishing expedition on the grandest scale we’ve ever seen in American history.”
He went on to say the Constitution requires the government to present evidence to a judge relating particular individuals if it wants to seize personal information like phone records of American citizens.
“Rather than doing that, they got a search warrant for 113 million phones,” Napolitano added.
“That we know of!” Smith interjected.
Judge Napolitano then speculated that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “lied under oath” when he testified that the NSA wasn’t collecting any type of data at all on hundreds of millions of Americans.
“Not wittingly,” Clapper said in March. “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”
Smith went on to say that only the court order relating to Verizon’s records have leaked, meaning that the NSA is likely monitoring other phone companies as well.
“Who are we to think they didn’t do this with all of them?” he asked.
The idea that Americans would sacrifice liberty for safety is a “canard,” Napolitano chimed in. He said “this is the most extraordinarily broad search warrant ever issued in the history of the federal courts of the United States.”
“Under this logic, the government could send people to all of our homes, put them in a bed next to us, have them watch everything. Under this logic, they can do anything!” Smith added.