My Jewish parents had changed their lives -- inner and outer -- by coming to America. When their son was old enough to go to school, they were determined not to send him to the prestigious Hebrew school on the street next to where they lived in Boston. No, the boy was to be more fully Americanized by taking a sizable walk to the William Lloyd Garrison public elementary school in the neighborhood.
They are no longer here, but I can imagine their hurt had they read this on the front page of the June 7 Wall Street Journal: "The National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions."
I would also have shown them a startling story by U.S. reporter and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who covers American civil liberties et al, for the British newspaper The Guardian. He found a top-secret Obama program run by the NSA that had direct access to the Internet systems of "Google, Facebook, Apple and other U.S. Internet giants."
Included are huge quantities of personal information about us, such as "search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats."
The program is called PRISM.
Despite the huge volume of calls, it does appear every one is being monitored. Since my phone calls have long been transmitted by Verizon, this makes me uneasy.
Citing Greenwald's reporting in The Guardian, Stephen Rex Brown writes in the New York Daily News that the court order "requires the carrier to hand over information regarding phone calls -- which does not include actual conversations (as if we actually believe that) -- on an 'ongoing, daily basis' to the FBI."
I suggest we press those members of Congress who individually represent us to join Republican Sen. Rand Paul's introduction of the "Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013," which, according to his Senate website, "ensures the constitutional protections of the Fourth Amendment are not violated by any government entity."
No matter, I would add, who the president is.
"The bill," says Paul, "restores our constitutional rights and declares that the Fourth Amendment shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause" (www.paul.senate.gov).
The senator has introduced the legislation. But how many of you are outraged enough to do anything about what Obama is doing to you -- besides spreading the word about Paul's bill?
Nat Hentoff is an authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.