It’s time to debate NSA program

Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, write: Every day, it seems, brings disturbing new revelations about the National Security Agency’s program to collect phone and email metadata, raising serious questions for our country. Reports indicate that the NSA is gathering metadata on millions of people in the United States and around the world, targeting diplomatic missions of both friends and foes.

The NSA’s metadata program was put into place with virtually no public debate, a worrisome precedent made worse by erecting unnecessary barriers to public understanding via denials and misleading statements from senior administration officials.

When the Congress and the courts work in secret; when massive amounts of data are collected from Americans and enterprises; when government’s power of intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens, augmented by the awesome power of advanced technologies, is hugely expanded without public debate or discussion over seven years, then our sense of constitutional process and accountability is deeply offended.

Officials insist that the right balance has been struck between security and privacy. But how would we know, when all the decisions have been made in secret, with almost no oversight? [Continue reading…]

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