This week, as we remember the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, it's also important to remember what he stood for, not only how he died.
"By civil liberties, I mean an individual's immunity from governmental oppression," Kennedy wrote. "A society which respects civil liberty realizes that the freedom of its people is built, in large part, upon their privacy."
Today, with unending revelations of government spying on ordinary Americans, Kennedy’s words seem prescient.
Noting that national security too often is used to justify government abuses of power, Kennedy warned, “I do not mean to condemn our central effort to protect the nation’s security. ...Yet there are few among us who do not share a portion of the blame for not recognizing soon enough the dark tendency towards excess of caution.”
As we look to Congress to curb these abuses with the USA Freedom Act, let's keep these words in mind.
The full text of JFK's statement: