Appearing on Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) tripped his way through Benjamin Franklin's famous liberty-safety quote as he and guest host Chuck Todd discussed the NSA's surveillance practices.
The discussion centered around President Obama's proposed NSA reforms, which include keeping phone records at the phone companies, stopping the NSA from collecting records and requiring officials to have a court order, unless it is an emergency. Todd asked if this was enough to win back the confidence of the American people. Wyden responded:
This starts toward what Ben Franklin had in mind, which is making sure that we can have security without sacrificing our liberties.
Wyden, whom Todd called one of the NSA's toughest critics, said there is "certainly more to do" and had a few more suggestions in addition to Obama's proposals, but spent most of his time dodging Todd's questions, or at the very least, not completely answering them.
Todd wanted assurance that the American's privacy is secure and he wanted Wyden to guarantee that nothing else was unknown about the NSA's spying on the American people. Wyden only offered one last comparison to Franklin as he blundered the quote:
First of all, I believe that we can make sure that liberty and security are not mutually exclusive. We can have both. That's what Ben Franklin talked about.
But Benjamin Franklin actually said exactly the opposite:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.