Randy Barnett: Secret NSA Snooping is "a Fundamental Challenge" to Democracy


"There is a real fundamental challenge to having popular sovereignty if the people can't know that the government is collecting data on them and…confiscating it from private companies." says leading libertarian legal theorist Randy Barnett of Georgetown University Law Center.

Reason's Matt Welch caught up with Barnett at Freedom Fest to discuss the National Security Agency (NSA).

Held each July in Las Vegas, Freedom Fest is attended by around 2,000 limited-government enthusiasts and libertarians. Reason TV spoke with over two dozen speakers and attendees and will be releasing interviews over the coming weeks. Go here for an ever-growing playlist of this year's interviews.

About 9.30 minutes.

Produced by Alex Manning. Camera by Paul Detrick and Tracy Oppenheimer.

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  2. Fuck democracy. Democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. NSA snooping is a threat to individual rights, which is all that matters.

    1. Agreed; however, given what you post, is it not also true that individual rights trump associational rights?

      1. This is a distinction without a difference.

  3. Alex Manning

    Any relation?

    1. To the first family of football?

      1. *shrug*

        You never know when you have greatness in your midst!

  4. It’s a fundamental challenge to liberty. It’s not so much a challenge to democracy, considering that you can find millions of people who will whap the pro-security lever at election time, on grounds of “MUH TEAM” or “EHRMAGERD TERRORISTS”.

    1. This. We will still get to vote, not that it will matter.

  5. There is a real fundamental challenge to having popular sovereignty if the people can’t know that the government is collecting data on them…

    Our representatives in Congress know all about it and they have the backs of their constituents. Peter King and Diane Feinstein are on top of this.

    1. Peter King and Diane Feinstein are on top of this.

      Like Trayvon on top of Zimmerman?


  6. Seize and Searchure… interesting way of looking at what the government is doing.

  7. Don’t worry, democracy will win.

    1. That’s what the framers were afraid of.

      1. There was a reason the Senate was not popularly elected.

      2. It scares me too. I’m outnumbered by statists.

  8. Huh, I always pronounced it “a-mick-us” brief. He pronounced it a-meek-us. Learn something new every day.

    1. It’s Latin, which means everyone pronounces it wrong except people who had Latin beaten into them by a vicious fuck of some sort.

      1. My childhood lacked vicious fucks.

        1. I would think that ah-mee-coose is correct if you’re trying to pronounce it all Romany. Otherwise, you’re anglicizing it. In that case, just mix and match parts of English and Latin pronunciation to taste.

          1. Hail Caesar ! And if it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.

    2. I thought it was AM-ah-cus.

  9. The squirrels are here… beer break.

  10. Welch didn’t bring his razor to Vegas. Must’ve packed light.

    1. TSA must have taken it.

    2. It’s not his fault he’s so damn sexy.

    3. “Welch didn’t bring his razor to Vegas.”

      No one sells them there, either.

  11. This is what passes for “analysis” of the security of Snowden’s data as it passed through China and then Russia:

    Like most observers, Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker doesn’t buy Snowden’s insistence that officials in those countries didn’t peek at his information trove. “That is a preposterous proposition,” Toobin says. “Even assuming that Snowden believes he had control of his computers 24/7 (he never slept?), there is simply no way that China and Russia would pass up that kind of bounty.”

    Encryption? How does that work?

    1. I know. It’s shocking to me that a JOURNALIST doesn’t understand encryption and the vast availability of encryption software. Unless Mr. Snowden was coerced to do so he’d have to give up the keys to his data willingly, there is no way any other party would be able to guess his password in a billion years if he used a 15-character password. (Of course, I am NOT saying he wasn’t coerced…)

      Remind me never to go to Mr. Toobin if I have something confidential to leak to him.

    2. If Toobin wasn’t an idiot, he would realize that given how poorly secured Snowden proved that data was, and given how many (thousands? tens of thousands?) people had access to it, there was no way that Russia and China didn’t already have it. Ditto for the diplomatic cables. You can maybe worry about terrorist groups getting some new actionable intel (goodness, we’re being spied on!), but worrying about foreign states is a little ridiculous.

  12. For fuck’s sake, it sounds like Matt left his mike in the parking lot. I’m liking the distinguished grey flecks on the beard, however.

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  14. Until i saw the checks i didnt know you could make $4483 a week snooping on your family and friends, sure am glad i sold my soul to the NSA for a handout that was illegally stolen from my weekly pay by a communist dictator who finances terrorism and instigates race wars.


  15. The real hard case no conscious human can deny about NSA snooping… how does democracy work when one agency has all the secrets of everyone at their disposal for blackmail including pols not in the “inner circle”

  16. like Carl said I am amazed that any body can earn $8943 in 1 month on the internet. did you read this link…. wwww.max38.com
    &my; friend’s mother makes $76 every hour on the laptop. She has been fired for 5 months but last month her income was $16329 just working on the laptop for a few hours.

  17. My favorite new acronym for saying no to all of this data recording is:


    Pass it on.

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