In a republican government based on popular sovereignty, the people are the principals or masters and those in government are merely their agents or servants. For the people to control their servants, however, they must know what their servants are doing.
The secrecy of these programs makes it impossible to hold elected officials and appointed bureaucrats accountable. Relying solely on internal governmental checks violates the fundamental constitutional principle that the sovereign people must be the ultimate external judge of their servants’ conduct in office. Yet such judgment and control is impossible without the information that such secret programs conceal. Had it not been for recent leaks, the American public would have no idea of the existence of these programs, and we still cannot be certain of their scope.
Randy Barnett, The NSA’s Surveillance Is Unconstitutional
MR. Barnett is a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University and wrote Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty.