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Monday, June 24, 2013

If you Have to Ask

The Question of the Day from our local newspaper was “ PRO-CON: "Should the Government Spy on Us?” I think the question was asked to stimulate a debate.

A local poster Jack Evony didn’t see it that way because he just wanted to know why the liberals weren’t complaining loud and long as they did when President Bush was using our surveillance systems. The poster hasn’t been watching Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and others complaining just as much as they did when the Bush administration was caught misusing the domestic surveillance systems.

I’m glad the president has nominated James Comey to be the new FBI director. “A decade ago, Comey threatened to quit the Justice Department over electronic eavesdropping. The former George W. Bush administration deputy attorney general, along with Mueller, threatened to resign March 11, 2004, because of legal concerns about central aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program, Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee three years later.”

Libertarians complained loudly back then, and they are doing the same under this administration.

Mr. Envony is not exactly correct when he says the Patriot Act was taken to a place where no one ever envisioned. I have to remind him that the Patriot Act did not allow our country to torture, run black sites or execute warrantless wiretapping. The Obama administration reined all those lawless tactics to comply with the FISA courts. Yes, surveillance has expanded to keep up with the technology that is now available. It is my opinion that the American public should have been more informed but that’s not to say that these programs weren’t run by several in Congress; several knew what was going on but they remained silent until now. Just last week, NSA held a meeting to explain their surveillance systems. All 100 senators were invited but only 47 of them showed up.

Where in the world did Jack get that the Boston Marathon bombing could have been prevented by using the Intel Russia gave us? The FBI did the best they could with the information they had. They had not forgotten that one of the suspects was a US citizen, and the other was a legal resident with due process rights. As I remember, the Russians provided hints about the older brother but when asked to elaborate, they didn’t respond. I think the FBI did a fantastic job of bringing the bombers to face justice in just five days.

The world has changed a lot since the Constitution was first written, but the principals remain the same. I think a lot of people realize that they have to give up a little of their freedoms for safety. I think we need to grow up and realize that other countries are spying on us, and we are doing the same to them. Occasionally, someone like Edward Snowden will get into systems where he has no business getting into and destroy the trust of our legal surveillance programs. I wonder if those who thought Snowden was a hero feel the same now that he has confessed that it was always his intention of collecting information on the NSA.

I remember when the first bailout took place, and the loud outcry from the public made the politicians vote against it. I also remember the immigration bill President Bush wanted to pass go down in flames because the right- wing jammed the White House switchboard. Citizens cannot complain and use the excuse of being powerless because if enough of you are against the surveillance powers of our government; your protest is just a phone call away.

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