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Washington Times Op-Ed: National security run amok

August 9, 2013 in Politics & Elections

In March, Sen. Ron Wyden asked Director of Intelligence James Clapper if the federal government had ‘any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.’ Clapper replied, ‘Not wittingly.’
In June, we learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) had not only been collecting millions of Americans’ phone data-but every American’s phone data, wittingly.
This astounding level of surveillance that government officials first denied quickly became something they were eager to defend. All of it was essential and necessary, we were told. President Obama and others also assured us that the NSA was only collecting ‘metadata’ and not eavesdropping on our phone calls.
Never mind that you can learn a lot about a person by tracking their private communications even if you’re not necessarily privy to the nature of those communications. Never mind that we have little reason to trust the government’s claims that it does not listen to our private conversations. Never mind that we have a Fourth Amendment that requires the government to acquire a warrant before it can pry into our private lives-for metadata or any other data. Never mind that we should never simply trust our government’s ‘good intentions’ when it steps beyond its constitutional bounds.
This week, Reuters reported ‘A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.’
Reuter’s continued, ‘Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.’
The DEA is supposed to track drug dealers. The NSA is supposed to track terrorists. We already know that the NSA now monitors every American as a potential terrorist, something the Director of National Intelligence once denied.
We now know that federal agents have been trying to cover up a program that investigates Americans. Is the DEA now operating above or outside the law as well?
And if not, why the cover up?
Government agencies back tracking their investigations to make it harder for lawyers and judges to know where a case originated does not exactly enhance the public trust. Former federal judge and Harvard Law School professor Nancy Gertner remarked, ‘I have never …read more


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