Lindsey Graham: I’d Support Censoring The Mail If Necessary
Well, at least we know that there’s no question of where South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham stands on the debate between liberty and security:
Sen. Lindsey Graham would propose censoring Americans’ “snail” mail if he thought it would help protect national security, the South Carolina Republican said Tuesday. But for now, he says he doesn’t think it’s necessary.
Faced with questions about the disclosure that the National Security Agency has been collecting phone and email records of citizens, Graham pointed to a World War II-era program in which the federal government censored mail. He said it was appropriate at the time and that he would support reinstating the program if it aided security efforts.
“In World War II, the mentality of the public was that our whole way of life was at risk, we’re all in. We censored the mail. When you wrote a letter overseas, it got censored. When a letter was written back from the battlefield to home, they looked at what was in the letter to make sure they were not tipping off the enemy,” Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “If I thought censoring the mail was necessary, I would suggest it, but I don’t think it is.”
“The First Amendment right to speak is sacrosanct, but it has limits,” Graham added. “In World War II, our population understood that what we say in letters could be used against [us by] our enemies. It was designed to protect us and ensure that we would have First Amendment rights because under the Japanese and Nazi regime, they weren’t that big into the First Amendment. We don’t need to censor the mail, but we do need to find out what the enemy’s up to.”
What Graham is referring to, of course, is correspondence between American soldiers overseas and their family and friends back home. There’s obviously a need for the military to ensure that operational security is being maintained in those types of situations, but that’s a far cry from the situation we face today. First of all, we aren’t all members of the military and thus subject to some reduction in rights for the sake of military safety. Second of all, when programs start accessing records of purely domestic correspondence then the rationale that Graham is trying to maintain her obviously falls apart. Where is the government justification for that kind of monitoring without a warrant issued by a judge in a non-secret court? I just don’t see it.