Tag Archives: Privacy

What would make it all right?

I’m greatly offended by the massive surveillance of our digital lives by the NSA, GCHQ and probably other intelligence agencies, as exposed by the Snowden leaks, all in the name of security. Who better to make the case against such power-grab than Obama himself, from 2007 (emphasis mine).

“This administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.”

Let us also look at how he justified the surveillance in June this year, long before more widespread violations were exposed, including blanket surveillance of private communications of American citizens and foreign leaders (emphasis mine).

But I think it’s important for everybody to understand — and I think the American people understand — that there are some tradeoffs involved.  I came in with a healthy skepticism about these programs.  My team evaluated them.  We scrubbed them thoroughly.  We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of safeguards.  But my assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks.  And the modest encroachments on the privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content, that on net, it was worth us doing.  Some other folks may have a different assessment on that.
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