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Government Surveillance

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Robert Mueller is the special counsel appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 to probe the nature and extent of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. The investigation began in October 2016 under President Barack Obama when the FBI took seriously the boast of Carter Page, one of candidate Donald Trump's... Read More
For the past few days, the nation's media and political class have been fixated on the firing of the No. 2 person in the FBI, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe became embroiled in the investigation of President Donald Trump because of his alleged approval of the use of a political dossier, written about Trump and... Read More
We remain embroiled in a debate over the nature and extent of our own government's spying on us. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was enacted in 1978 as a response to the unlawful government spying of the Watergate era, was a lawful means for the government to engage in foreign surveillance on U.S. soil,... Read More
I have argued for a few weeks now that House Intelligence Committee members have committed misconduct in office by concealing evidence of spying abuses by the National Security Agency and the FBI. They did this by sitting on a four-page memo that summarizes the abuse of raw intelligence data while Congress was debating a massive... Read More
During the past three weeks, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law vast new powers for the NSA and the FBI to spy on innocent Americans and selectively to pass on to law enforcement the fruits of that spying. Those fruits can now lawfully include all fiber-optic data transmitted to or in the... Read More
Late last week, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, repeated his public observations that members of the intelligence community -- particularly the CIA, the NSA and the intelligence division of the FBI -- are not trustworthy with the nation's intelligence secrets. Because he has a security clearance at... Read More
Hidden beneath the controversy stirred up last week by the publication of a book called "Fire and Fury," a highly critical insider's view of the Trump White House that the president has not only denounced on national television but also tried to prevent from being published and distributed, are the efforts of the Trump administration... Read More
What if the government doesn't really deliver for us? What if its failures to protect our lives, liberties and property are glaring? What if nothing changes after these failures? What if the National Security Agency -- the federal government's domestic spying apparatus -- has convinced Congress that it needs to cut constitutional corners in order... Read More
Here we go again. The United States has been rattled to the core by an unspeakable act of evil perpetrated by a hater of humanity. A quiet, wealthy loner rented a hotel suite in Las Vegas, armed it with shooting platforms and automatic weapons, knocked out two of the windows, and shot at innocents 32... Read More
What if the federal government captures in real time the contents of every telephone call, email and text message and all the fiber-optic data generated by every person and entity in the United States 24/7/365? What if this mass surveillance was never authorized by any federal law? What if this mass surveillance has come about... Read More
Last weekend, the FBI arrested an employee of a corporation in Augusta, Georgia, that had a contract with the National Security Agency and charged her with espionage. Espionage occurs when someone who has been entrusted to safeguard state secrets fails to do so. In this case, the government alleges that the person to whom state... Read More
“The makers of our Constitution … conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” -- Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1928 After the Watergate era had ended and Jimmy Carter was in the White House and the Senate’s Church... Read More
Late last week, President Donald Trump told CBS News that domestic surveillance of American citizens should the “No. 1” topic of inquiry until we can find out “what the hell is going on” with it. Also late last week, the National Security Agency -- the federal government’s 60,000-person-strong domestic spying agency -- announced that it... Read More
The issue of federal government surveillance of Americans has largely occupied Washington politicians and the media since President Donald Trump first accused the administration of his predecessor of spying on him while he and his colleagues worked at Trump Tower in New York City during the presidential election campaign and during the presidential transition. Trump's... Read More
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The question of whether former President Barack Obama actually spied on President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition has been tantalizing Washington since President Trump first made the allegation nearly two weeks ago. Since then, three investigations have been launched -- one by the FBI, one by the House of Representatives and... Read More
Those of us who believe that the Constitution means what it says have been arguing since the late 1970s that congressional efforts to strengthen national security by weakening personal liberty are unconstitutional, un-American and ineffective. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Congress passed in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon’s use of the CIA and... Read More
Last week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that members of the intelligence community -- part of the deep state, the unseen government within the government that does not change with elections -- now have acquired so much data on everyone in America that they can selectively reveal it to reward their friends and harm their... Read More
On Jan. 3, outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch secretly signed an order directing the National Security Agency -- America's 60,000-person-strong domestic spying apparatus -- to make available raw spying data to all other federal intelligence agencies, which then can pass it on to their counterparts in foreign countries and in the 50 states upon request.... Read More
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On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks -- the courageous international organization dedicated to governmental transparency -- exposed hundreds of internal emails circulated among senior staff of the Democratic National Committee during the past 18 months. At a time when Democratic Party officials were publicly professing neutrality during the party’s presidential primaries, the... Read More
While Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are battling in their final round in the Democratic primaries and Donald Trump is arguing that Clinton should be in prison for failing to safeguard state secrets while she was secretary of state, the same FBI that is diligently investigating her is quietly and perniciously seeking to cut more... Read More
Would all of our lives be safer if the government could break down all the doors it wishes, listen to all the conversations it could find and read whatever emails and text messages it could acquire? Perhaps. But who would want to live in such a society? To prevent that from happening here, the Framers... Read More
"There is nothing new in the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of us all." -- Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) After the San Bernardino massacre on Dec. 2, 2015, the FBI lawfully acquired the cellphone of one of the killers and persuaded a federal... Read More
If you were looking for a needle in a haystack, simple logic would tell you that the smaller the haystack the likelier you are to find the needle. Except for the government. Since Edward Snowden revealed the federal government's unlawful and unconstitutional use of federal statutes to justify spying on all in America all the... Read More
In an effort to draw attention away from the intelligence failures that permitted the attacks of 9/11 and create the impression that it was doing something -- anything -- to avoid a repeat, the federal government tampered seriously with freedoms expressly guaranteed in the Constitution. Its principal target was the right to privacy, which is... Read More
The tragedy in Paris last Friday has regrettably been employed as a catalyst for renewed calls by governments in western Europe and even in the United States for more curtailment of personal liberties. Those who accept the trade of liberty for safety have argued in favor of less liberty. They want government to have more... Read More
The dust-up between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul over presidential fidelity to the Constitution -- particularly the Fourth Amendment -- was the most illuminating two minutes of the Republican debate last week. It is a well-regarded historical truism that the Fourth Amendment was written by victims of government snooping, the... Read More
Last week, Republicans and Democrats in Congress joined President Barack Obama in congratulating themselves for taming the National Security Agency’s voracious appetite for spying. By permitting one section of the Patriot Act to expire and by replacing it with the USA Freedom Act, the federal government is taking credit for taming beasts of its own... Read More
In their continuous efforts to create the impression that the government is doing something to keep Americans safe, politicians in Washington have misled and lied to the public. They have violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. They have created a false sense of security. And they have dispatched and re-dispatched 60,000 federal agents to... Read More
The Patriot Act has a bad pedigree and an evil history. In the fearful days immediately following 9/11, the Department of Justice quickly sent draft legislation to Congress that, if enacted, would have permitted federal agents to violate their oaths to uphold the Constitution by writing their own search warrants. The draft subsequently was revealed... Read More
What if we didn’t have a Constitution? What if the government were elected by custom and tradition, but not by law? What if election procedures and official titles and government responsibilities merely followed those that preceded them, and not because any of this was compelled by law, but because that’s what folks came to expect?... Read More
A decision last week about NSA spying by a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals in New York City sent shock waves through the government. The court ruled that a section of the Patriot Act that is due to expire at the end of this month and on which the government... Read More
If you plan to visit a college campus this month, don’t be surprised if you see signs and placards encouraging you to “Restore the Fourth.” Restore the Fourth is not about an athletic event or a holiday; it is about human freedom. The reference to “the Fourth” is to the Fourth Amendment, and it is... Read More
Does the FBI manifest fidelity, bravery and integrity, or does it cut constitutional corners in order to incriminate? Can the FBI cut the cable television lines to your house and then show up pretending to be the cable guy and install listening devices? Can FBI agents and technicians testify falsely and cause the innocent to... Read More
Here is a short pop quiz. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress earlier this month about the parameters of the secret negotiations between the United States and Iran over nuclear weapons and economic sanctions, how did he know what the negotiators were considering? Israel is not a party to those negotiations, yet the... Read More
What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.? What if Reagan knew and respected the history of the Fourth Amendment? What... Read More
President George W. Bush was fond of saying that “9/11 changed everything.” He used that one-liner often as a purported moral basis to justify the radical restructuring of federal law and the federal assault on personal liberties over which he presided. He cast aside his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution; he rejected... Read More
While the Western world was watching and grieving over the slaughter in Paris last week, and my colleagues in the media were fomenting a meaningless debate about whether President Obama should have gone to Paris to participate in a televised parade, the feds took advantage of that diversion to reveal even more incursions into our... Read More
Earlier this week, the federal government's National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science -- encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities -- announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The NSF dubbed the project... Read More
Earlier this week, FBI Director James Comey gave an interview to "60 Minutes" during which he revealed a flawed understanding of personal freedom. He rightly distinguished what FBI agents do in their investigations of federal crimes from what the NSA does in its intelligence gathering, when the two federal agencies are looking for non-public data.... Read More
While the political commentators in the nation's capital are wrapped up in the debate over what to do about ISIS, and as one third of the Senate and nearly all members of the House campaign for re-election, the president's spies continue to capture massive amounts of personal information about hundreds of millions of us and... Read More
When President Obama attributed the rise in Iraq of the Islamic State, or ISIS, to the failures of the U.S. intelligence community earlier this week, naming and blaming directly National Intelligence Director Gen. James Clapper, he was attempting to deflect criticism of his own incompetence. He was discussing the fact that ISIS, right under his... Read More
In some respects, the recent admission by CIA Director John Brennan that his agents and his lawyers have been spying on the senators whose job it is to monitor the agency should come as no surprise. The agency's job is to steal and keep secrets, and implicit in those tasks, Brennan would no doubt argue,... Read More
"Chilling" is the word lawyers use to describe governmental behavior that does not directly interfere with constitutionally protected freedoms, but rather tends to deter folks from exercising them. Classic examples of "chilling" occurred in the 1970s, when FBI agents and U.S. Army soldiers, in business suits with badges displayed or in full uniform, showed up... Read More
In what appears to be one of Edward Snowden's final revelations, the former CIA and NSA agent has demonstrated conclusively that the National Security Agency has collected and analyzed the contents of emails, text messages, and mobile and landline telephone calls from nine non-targeted U.S. residents for every one U.S. resident it has targeted. This... Read More
After a brief holiday last week, I returned to some heavy reading courtesy of the federal government. Some of the materials that I read were gratifying, and one was terrifying. In one week, the Supreme Court told the police that if they want to examine the contents of our cellphones, whether at traffic stops or... Read More
With heart-pounding suspense, John le Carre-like intrigue and Jeffersonian fidelity to the principles of human freedom, Glenn Greenwald has just published "No Place to Hide." The book, which reads like a thriller, is Greenwald's story of his nonstop two weeks of work in May and June of 2013 in Hong Kong with former CIA agent... Read More
What if the federal government is shameless? What if it personifies the adage of do as I say and not as I do? What if it does the very things it prosecutes others for doing? What if it has written laws and enacted procedures so that it can spy and kill, while it charges others... Read More
Last week, National Intelligence Director Gen. James R. Clapper sent a brief letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he admitted that agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) have been reading innocent Americans' emails and text messages and listening to digital recordings of their telephone conversations... Read More
What if the National Security Agency (NSA) knows it is violating the Constitution by spying on all Americans without showing a judge probable cause of wrongdoing or identifying the persons it wishes to spy upon, as the Constitution requires? What if this massive spying has come about because the NSA found it too difficult to... Read More
Except for the definition and mechanism of proving treason, no area of the Constitution addressing the rights of all persons when the government is pursuing them is more specific than the Fourth Amendment. The linchpin of that specificity is the requirement that the government demonstrate probable cause to a judge as a precondition to the... Read More
Andrew Napolitano
About Andrew Napolitano

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame Law School. He is the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of the State of New Jersey. He sat on the bench from 1987 to 1995, when he presided over more than 150 jury trials and thousands of motions, sentencings, and hearings. Judge Napolitano taught constitutional law and jurisprudence at Delaware Law School for two years and at Seton Hall Law School for 11 years. He was often chosen by the students as their most outstanding professor. He returned to private practice in 1995, and began television work in the same year.

As Fox News’ Senior Judicial Analyst since 1998, Judge Napolitano broadcasts nationwide on the Fox News Channel throughout the day, Monday through Friday. He is nationally known for watching and reporting on the government as it takes liberty and property.

Judge Napolitano lectures nationally on the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, civil liberties in wartime, and human freedom. He has been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. His weekly newspaper column is seen by millions every week.

The Judge is the author of seven books on the U.S. Constitution, two of which have been New York Times best sellers. His most recent book is Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom.


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