Thursday, June 13, 2013

Top National Security Experts: Spying Program Doesn’t Make Us Safer, and Spying Leaks Don’t Harm America

Washington’s Blog
June 13, 2013

America’s top national security experts say that the NSA’s mass surveillance program doesn’t make us safer … and that whistleblowers revealing the nature and extent of the program don’t harm America.
The top counter-terrorism czar under Presidents Clinton and Bush – Richard Clarke – notes:
The just-revealed surveillance stretches the law to its breaking point and opens the door to future potential abuses
I am troubled by the precedent of stretching a law on domestic surveillance almost to the breaking point. On issues so fundamental to our civil liberties, elected leaders should not be so needlessly secretive.
The argument that this sweeping search must be kept secret from the terrorists is laughable. Terrorists already assume this sort of thing is being done. Only law-abiding American citizens were blissfully ignorant of what their government was doing.
If the government wanted a particular set of records, it could tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court why — and then be granted permission to access those records directly from specially maintained company servers. The telephone companies would not have to know what data were being accessed. There are no technical disadvantages to doing it that way, although it might be more expensive.
Would we, as a nation, be willing to pay a little more for a program designed this way, to avoid a situation in which the government keeps on its own computers a record of every time anyone picks up a telephone? That is a question that should have been openly asked and answered in Congress.
The author of the Patriot Act and chairman on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner – says:
  • - Lawmakers’ and the executive branch’s excuses about recent revelations of NSA activity are “a bunch of bunk”
  • - The government has gone far beyond what the Patriot Act intended, and that section 215 of the act “was originally drafted to prevent data mining” on the scale that’s occurred
  • - Whistleblower Edward Snowden is not a traitor, and Sensenbrenner would not have known the extent of abuse by the NSA and the FISA court without Snowden’s disclosures
  • - The Patriot Act needs to be amended to protect Americans’ privacy
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