The Inspector General of the The United States Department of Justice, Glenn A. Fine, has informed the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee that his department has already conducted “initial inquiries” into the NSA’s (National Security Agency’s) electronic surveillance program (officially the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”) and is about to begin an examination of “controls and use of information related to the program.”
This review is, no doubt, an attempt by the Bush administration to throw the surveillance program’s critics ‘a bone.’ These critics, mostly Democrats but some Republicans, want the program either stopped or controlled to the point where it is ineffective! They contend that, as it is, it is beyond illegal, it is unconstitutional.
The intent of the Terrorist Surveillance Program (as I understand it) is to intercept any communication (incorrectly referred to as “wiretapping”) between known or suspected terrorists overseas and anyone here in the United States. The main criticism of this program is the fact that the NSA does not need to get a warrant from a judge in advance of their actions — they can go to a special court set up for this purpose and obtain a warrant after the fact, if their surveillance warrants further monitoring.
A Reality Check:
There are no doubts in my mind that some (or most) NSA agents are going beyond their strict legal limits to do their jobs. Every police officer knows that you sometimes have to bend the law to catch lawbreakers; that’s a “dirty little fact of life” in the law enforcement and security fields and it is another fact of life that it is unacceptable behavior; if you’re caught doing it you’re “history.” Every NSA agent (or police officer) is aware of the possible consequences but these are people who are devoted to their missions — devoted to the point that personal (job) security and their own personal safety are secondary considerations.
Our country has been directly threatened by terrorist organizations and with our unacceptable border security there are, without a doubt, terrorist operatives already here. If we let just one of these terrorist operatives slip through our fingers, he or she could be the one that plans and executes the next murder of hundreds or thousands of Americans on our own soil.
If I have to give up some personal privacy to prevent that from happening, I’m willing to do it! That implies both my level of trust in the government in the area of National Security and the confidence that I have nothing to fear from the NSA.
There are an enormous number of people who, for whatever reasons, do not feel this way. They do not trust the government (and in certain areas I share that mistrust) but opposition to this particular program must imply that the person opposed to it is worried that the government will ‘find out something’ about them or their activities. I’m happy not to have that particular albatross around my neck.
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Watchdog launches probe into spy program
Reuters (on CBS): Justice Department Reviews Role in Eavesdropping Program
From the blogosphere:
Talk Radio Kerry Fox: Justice Department to Examine Its Use of NSA Wiretaps
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