Ricahrd A. Clarke writes: None of us want another terrorist attack in the United States. Equally, most of us have nothing to hide from the federal government, which already has so many ways of knowing about us. And we know that the just-revealed National Security Agency program does not actually listen to our calls; it uses the phone numbers, frequency, length and times of the calls for data-mining.
So, why is it that many Americans, including me, are so upset with the Obama administration gathering up telephone records?
My concerns are twofold. First, the law under which President George W. Bush and now President Obama have acted was not intended to give the government records of all telephone calls. If that had been the intent, the law would have said that. It didn’t. Rather, the law envisioned the administration coming to a special court on a case-by-case basis to explain why it needed to have specific records.
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. [Continue reading…]