Civil Liberties

Opposition to Snooping Unites Liberals and Libertarians

Oddly, it's also uniting Democratic and Republican control freaks


Nothing brings the left and the right together quite like government snooping.

Fears of Big Brother have the likes of liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders and libertarian Sen. Rand Paul sounding the alarm over the National Security Administration sweeping up millions of phone records and mining the activity of Internet users.

The same coalition – call them "liberal-tarians" — has come together on other issues over the years, from opposition to the Iraq war to gay marriage and medical marijuana, helping to nudge evolving public attitudes, which eventually drove policy changes. …

Listen to Paul and Sanders on this issue, and it's a little hard to tell them apart.

"I think the irony is that people voted for President Obama hoping for something different," Paul said. "They were hoping for someone who'd protect the First Amendment, someone who'd protect the Fourth Amendment and there are good progressives and liberals in our country who do and there are good conservatives who believe that."

Sanders told reporters he's shocked by the breadth of the program.

"I worry what it would mean for American civil liberties, but I will tell you I never ever expected that under any definition of that legislation that it would mean the phone calls of millions and millions of Americans — virtually none of whom the government has any reason to believe is involved in terrorism — would be checked by the United States government," Sanders said.