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Our View: Call your representative about NSA

Published: Monday, June 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

We print the names and contact information of our area’s federal lawmakers on this page each Monday for a reason.

Other than by voting, the best way we can have an effect on the way our government operates is through contacting our legislators and making sure they hear our voices.

Especially considering that the federal government already is keeping track of our phone calls.

Last week, we learned that the National Security Agency has been collecting phone records of hundreds of millions of American phone customers. This government says it is granted this power under the Patriot Act, which was renewed by Congress as recently as 2011. Officials say the program has been ongoing for seven years and is re-authorized every 90 days by a secret court.

All of this is done in the name of thwarting terrorism. Supporters say the government must have information about every call made in the country, including where the caller was when the call was made, what number they called, and for how long.

It’s another black mark for President Barack Obama, whose administration already has allowed the IRS to target conservative groups and the Justice Department to conduct a wide-ranging search of Associated Press phone records. Obama defends the program, as do several in Congress, saying they don’t listen to the content of the calls and or people’s names. Yet all of this has been done in secret for years, and the only reason we know now is because it was leaked. The longer government spy agencies are allowed access to this information, the less difficult it becomes for them to continue to expand how they use it. Law-abiding American citizens are guaranteed a reasonable expectation of privacy by the Fourth Amendment, which says “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

If the government’s secret collection of your phone records in the name of fighting terrorism sounds like a broad and disturbing intrusion into your privacy, the names of our federal representatives – including our President – are below.

Contact them, and tell them how you feel.

Here is the contact information for our federal legislators:

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren R-14, Winfield 1797 State Street, Suite A Geneva, IL 60134 Phone: 630-232-7104 Fax: 630-232-7174 427 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C., 20515 Phone: 202-225-2976 Fax: 202-225-0697 Website: hultgren.house.gov

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger R-16, Manteno 628 Columbus Street, Ste. 507 Ottawa, IL 61350 Phone: 815-431-9271 Fax: 815-431-9383 Washington, D.C., office: 1218 Longworth HOB Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone: 202-225-3635 Fax: 202-225-3521 Website: www.kinzinger.house.gov

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin D-Illinois 309 Hart Senate Building Washington, D.C. 20510 Phone: 202-224-2152 Fax: 202-228-0400 Website: www.durbin.senate.gov

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk R-Illinois 387 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 Phone: 202-224-2854 Fax: 202-228-4611 Website: www.kirk.senate.gov

President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20500 202-456-1111 Website:  www.whitehouse.gov

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