Real Protection From The NSA
On Friday, President Obama is expected to issue new guidelines that purport to rein in these abuses, but leaked details leave little reason for hope that his proposals will go far enough. What America needs is a U-turn before we lose our freedom and our country.
In the years since 9/11, administrations of both parties, along with U.S. intelligence agencies, have secretly built up enormous powers that they do not intend to relinquish. They were aided in this endeavor by the very institution that was supposed to be a safeguard, a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court whose secret rulings essentially set aside the Constitution. Ill-considered legislation from Congress has only enabled the collapse of checks and balances.
In late 2005 and early 2006, The New York Times, then Mark Klein and USA TODAY received fragmentary information on a program that collected private information on Americans. Last June, publication of documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden revealed a far more intrusive program of domestic spying.
These programs were supposed to protect us, but the president's NSA review panel found that spying on Americans has not prevented any terrorist attacks. Even if it had, the power the government has aggregated is a more dangerous threat to our freedom than is terrorism itself. The executive branch has vast troves of electronic data on most Americans, even those who have never been suspected of a crime.
America's Founders knew better than to give a government powers with such enormous potential for abuse. Yet under both the Bush and Obama administrations, unconstitutional powers have been abused.
Excessive power corrupts human nature, without regard to geography or partisan affiliation, as we have seen repeatedly through history and again in the past 12 years. Despite this history, the strongest reforms proposed in Congress or by the recent presidential panel, with its 46 recommendations, are insufficient to restore our freedom.
The many areas requiring rollback illustrate just how far things have gone. Real change would start with a confession to the voters by the NSA and the intelligence committees:
As for Congress, how about some real oversight for a change?
These measures would deflate the unconstitutional power of our national security state.
Ed Loomis, Kirk Wiebe, Thomas Drake, William Binney and Diane Roark were career professionals at the NSA or, in Roark's case, the House Intelligence Committee. The FBI raided each of their homes in 2007, falsely accusing them of leaking part of the NSA program to The New York Times in 2005.
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