National Security and Surveillance

By Beacon Staff
By John Fuller

In recent months, the American people have had disturbing revelations that our government has been spying on them in unprecedented amounts and methods.

The intelligence community has claimed that the efficacy of these dragnet and warrantless searches have been instrumental in helping to prevent attacks on the U.S. and its allies.

They also claim that closing down vacuum-cleaner collection of data from people’s phones and internet emails will “leave the nation at risk.”

This widespread collection of private correspondence, data, and information about U.S. citizens is not only disturbing; it is ultimately incredibly dangerous to the very liberty and freedom it is supposedly protecting.

The crucial point to remember about these claims for the effectiveness of this domestic spying is that if a government has unlimited authority, then that will be what it ends up using even if more limited authority would have sufficed.

The Fourth Amendment requires specific warrants based on probable cause. Without it, governments would never bother doing anything other than using “ransack searches” to successfully combat crime and terrorism. We might be safer, but we would no longer be free.

It is time for the American people to demand the government protect our liberty as well as protect us from terrorism and crime.

By Joe Carbonari

Undoubtedly, there are both actions and methods associated with our national security that best be kept largely secret.

Those that potentially involve violating our personal privacy, however, need to be carefully regulated. Many suspect that is not the case.

The indiscriminant collection of phone logs and emails of Americans, in America, would seem to be unwarranted.

Apparently, various judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court have a differing view. It is disturbing that the basis and articulation of their determinations have not been made public.

As disturbing is the revelation that the judges who serve on the court are all selected by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and that they are considered to have a disproportionately conservative and “pro-government” lean.

I would like to think that there are knowledgeable, un-biased, reflective individuals who are monitoring both our government and our first tier of oversight, the FISCjudges.

The misleading statements by the director of national intelligence and the muted response of the Senate and House intelligence committees, leave me feeling otherwise.

We need a better system – one that we can trust, one that is not overseen by so very few and one that is not seemingly so easily co-opted. Our freedom requires it.

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