There are many theories for the reasons why terrorism has become a major concern for our governments, and for each one of us. Some people blame the President’s foreign policy. Some blame the Iraqi war for the escalation of terrorist threat to the United States. Regardless of the reason for this problem, I believe that we can all agree that the threat is real and we need to be concerned. We need to prevent, as a nation, a repeat of 9/11, or a similar tragic event. So, why is there concern about what the NSA is doing?
A telephone conversation between two people, one in Pakistan and one in Chicago, has been going on for more than 30 minutes. The person overseas tells the person in Chicago that “everything is a go.” He asks this guy in Chicago if the time for the explosion is still the same. He then asks this Chicago man when they will actually be putting things together and begin the attack. The Pakistan caller spends the next several minutes discussing banking arrangements and other contacts in Chicago.
This entire conversation is one-sided. We never hear the target being identified. We never hear the what, when, and where. This is bad for the innocent Americans that are about to be killed as a result of limited intelligence.
What do Americans want? Do they want more security, or do they want the intelligence line of information cut-off? Who explains this short-sightedness to those families who will lose loved ones? When a child no longer has mom or dad at home as a result of a terrorist attack that could have been prevented with the proper information, who will explain this mishap to them?
Obviously, the person who is cheating on their spouse may not be happy that the NSA knows about it. Do they really think the NSA cares? The person that is selling drugs may be upset that their communications is being intercepted by automated means. Some of us believe that the drug problem in America is a cancer needing to be eliminated. People dealing in child pornography may be upset that “Big Brother” knows about their sick perversions, and we can understand why. After all, these people could lose their freedom for 10 to 20 years. Other criminals may have a problem with the NSA knowing of their business dealings as well. We can understand this as well.
To these individuals, we can only say, too bad. When balancing the need to protect American citizens and the rights of wrong doers, the need to protect law abiding citizens has the greatest weight. The only way our government can protect us is to collect as much information they can and to analyze it to determine when and where these threats can be eliminated. If we cripple our law enforcement abilities, and people die, we can only blame ourselves.
One important point needing to be made here is the use of this information. United States citizens have the right to express themselves without being subjected to reprisal. As such, nothing in the U.S. Constitution states that people cannot be monitored. What it does indicate is that the Federal and State governments will not interfere with the lawful communication and protests of the people, and these governments must protect these rights. As such, the information is collected in order to protect U.S. citizens, but the government cannot use extrinsic information for other government use that would give the appearance of interfering with the rights of U.S. citizens.
These concepts are quite different than those presented in the media and press. There is a great difference between the “collection” and the “use” of information. In fact, we have no idea whether or not extrinsic matters are being kept or discarded. This may be a greater policy concern than the collection itself. There should be policy in place that causes information with no intelligence value to be immediately discarded, and with severe penalties for failing to do so.
I could easily jump on this band wagon and let my pen scream, “Abuse!” However, there are other people involved here. There are U.S. citizens that are innocent, that just want to live in peace, that may become victims of terrorism in the future. These potential victims are more likely than not one of our friends, family member, or one of us. Why would we want to protect ourselves, as a nation, any less than that of our home.
The President has seen fit to utilize any and all processes available to him through taxpayers' support in order to protect us, each one of us, our families, and our friends. Is this not what we would expect of the Commander-in-Chief? We need to make certain that we are protected, and this means by whatever means available to us.
It is not asking too much to have our government officials to make certain that of the information collected that they destroy any and all documentation that has nothing to do with terrorism. If there is a discussion between an international communicator and a person within the United States, and the communication of the individuals prove to be innocent or intellectual interaction, then it is believed appropriate to destroy the communication of the person within the United States. There should be a criminal violation for abuse of these limitations, that is, the failure to destroy innocent communications should lead to criminal prosecution.
If the communication proves to be fruitful, then the government officials should be able to use this information in any manner deemed fit. This would not only be reasonable, it would be considered necessary.
Hopefully, the reader will be inspired to think about the reasons for the NSA surveillance and the need for understanding and tolerance for this process. The reader should also think about the limitations and need for restraint of these government officials in carrying out their duties.
(Dr. Drennon Gala addresses numerous issues in education, delinquency, crime, corrections, and organizational assessment. He is an author, lecturer, freelance writer, former Associate Professor, and presently a federal law enforcement officer with the U.S. Department of Justice. He possesses a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, M.S.Ed. from the University of Rochester, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and an M.A. from the University of Central Oklahoma, Department of Sociology. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, or the United States.)
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Whatever Dr. Gala's knowledge, expertise, or job, it does not give him the right to support and recommend breaking the law. It has been pointed out over and over that the spying and eavesdropping could have been done retroactively, and that it would have been very simple for the administration to get sanction from a judge.
It is surprising that Americans are so complacently accepting this situation as having something to do with their safety. If that is the case, where is the proof? I am surprised that many more Americans are not already up in arms regarding other breaches of American values such as follows: falsifying intelligence to go to war in Iraq; illegally invading Iraq; misleading us about the Niger/Iraq uranium connection; diverting money appropriated for Afghanistan to planning the Iraq war; Using American tax money to pay for war-propaganda in Iraq; authorizing torture and violating the Geneva Convention at Abu Graib and Guantanamo; using inhumane, illegal treatment of detainees; leaking the name of a covert CIA agent's name; spying on American citizens within the US; and paying Armstrong Williams and others for propaganda in the "No Child Left Behind" matter.
This is only a partial list of injustices by this administration. Where will it all end?
Mildred Perry Miller