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Post­modern kids in a post-9/11 world, this gen­er­ation worries more about what our mothers might find on Facebook than what Big Brother could dis­cover in our inbox.

That’s according to a January Pew Research poll, which shows 60 percent of young people still support the National Security Agency regardless of its con­tro­versial domestic spying program. Another 10 percent don’t even care.

Living, banking, and dating online, we’ve become com­fortably numb to the dete­ri­o­ration of our civil lib­erties. Now this indif­ference allows the NSA to endanger our per­sonal security and the safety of our republic.

Before the advent of the Internet, intel­li­gence agencies needed a warrant to tap a phone or bug an apartment. Today, that infor­mation is just a click away. In the last decade, gov­ernment jujitsu has turned the infor­mation super­highway into history’s most sophis­ti­cated instrument of espi­onage.

Using pro­grams with code­names fit for Bond films — like PRISM, Optic Nerve, and DishFire — the NSA col­lects phone records, online data, and the search his­tories of mil­lions of Amer­icans. After­wards, the agency searches through this dragnet to evaluate risks. It’s the classic spy-now-ask-later racket over which our Founding Fathers would throw a fit.

Advo­cates argue that keeping Amer­icans safe is well worth any inci­dental privacy pre­miums. In January, Pres­ident Obama credited the domestic sur­veil­lance program with “pre­venting mul­tiple attacks and saving innocent lives.” He also trum­peted internal safe­guards that take “privacy con­cerns into account in our policies and pro­ce­dures.”

When pushed to sub­stan­tiate these claims though, pundits, ana­lysts, and politi­cians all respond with some version of the same refrain: Without domestic sur­veil­lance, the US risks another 9/11.

But if total security comes at the cost of liberty, then another 9/11 is a price worth paying. Republics exist not to enforce safety but to foster freedom. By design, limited gov­ernment can never provide the security imposed by omnipresent tyranny. And it shouldn’t try.

Total security requires her­culean public efforts that are anathema to free society. Of course the state must look to the safety of its cit­izens, but only after addressing the security of their liberty. Sac­ri­ficing freedom to mit­igate risk under­mines the entire framework of repub­lican gov­ernment. To enjoy indi­vidual rights, one inevitably accepts a certain risks. Freedom is inher­ently dan­gerous.

Philo­sophical con­sid­er­a­tions aside, the program is still far from a silver bullet in the War on Terror. Its efficacy comes under fire almost as much as its legit­imacy. The NSA’s vast web of war­rantless wiretaps and internet bugs didn’t stop the Fort Hood ter­rorist attack or the Boston Bombing. And how could it? When 900 indi­viduals daily enter the National Coun­tert­er­rorism watchlist, how can agents and ana­lysts keep up?

Attempts at omni­science set an unre­al­istic expec­tation for the intel­li­gence com­munity and put lives at risk. Strug­gling through a swamp of irrel­evant data col­lected from innocent Amer­icans, ana­lysts reg­u­larly lose track of solid leads.

They don’t need more infor­mation. They need better intel­li­gence. Rather than vac­u­uming up the data of innocent mil­lions, they need to pin­point facts on a guilty few.

This domestic spying program under­mines our most basic civil right, reducing cit­izens to tenants of their own thoughts. Under threat of unwanted obser­vation, indi­viduals act unnat­u­rally. Thus, this gov­ernment voyeurism fun­da­men­tally cor­rupts indi­vidual liberty making free dis­course, that cor­ner­stone of democracy, impos­sible.

In an evolving world increas­ingly unfriendly to democracy, our republic requires both liberty and security. Luckily there’s an amendment for that.

The Fourth Amendment estab­lishes clear stan­dards for state inter­vention in private lives. The pro­hi­bition of “unrea­sonable searches and seizures” along with a return to the standard of “probable cause” eman­ci­pates the indi­vidual from unwanted gov­ernment inter­ference. In short, it makes freedom pos­sible.

More than some gimmick, the Fourth Amendment actually works. For two cen­turies, the law pro­tected liberty while pre­serving security. It can do so again today. A return to the Con­sti­tution would throw a lifeline to belea­guered intel­li­gence agents. With clear cri­teria for wrong­doing, law enforcement could escape a marsh of mis­in­for­mation.

FBI-agent-turned-ACLU attorney Michael German argues that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t hinder law enforcement. It helps them. “These stan­dards actually assisted me as an inves­ti­gator,” German explains, “because they forced me to focus on the right people for the right reasons, to follow evi­dence rather than flawed hunches or pro­files.”

For cen­turies, this Con­sti­tu­tional safe­guard barred the state from entering private homes, rifling through per­sonal records, and running the lives of its cit­izens. In the infor­mation age, it’s time to enforce that same standard. Our gen­er­ation needs to block Big Brother online by abol­ishing the NSA’s domestic spying program.