NSA, Government Spying and Edward Snowden

3 Jul

There are obviously a lot of things going on right now, but I’m going to focus on the NSA spying ordeal.  I think that we need certain tools to fight terrorism.  I don’t think that spying on Americans without a warrant is one of them.  Our intelligence agencies were able to thwart many attacks without use of the Patriot Act.  We were attacked on 9/11 not because we didn’t have the Patriot Act, but because we didn’t have intelligence organizations communicating with each other.  (The C.I.A. knew the names of some of the hijackers, but wouldn’t share their information with the FBI)

The Patriot Act was passed in 2001 with bipartisan support in the House and Senate.  People in congress were afraid of being labeled, “Anti-American” if they voted against it.  Senator Russ Feingold was the only person in the Senate to vote against it.  There were 65 people in the House of Representatives who voted against it.  (See c-span for the vote numbers)  Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority voted for the Patriot Act, I think it is a bad law.  It was wrong under Bush and it is wrong under Obama.  I am disappointed that President Obama has decided to continue the program.  He was a Constitutional law professor, he should know better.  The Patriot Act started under President Bush and should have ended under President Obama.

I have no problem with anyone who is angry with Obama for continuing these programs, who were against them under Bush.  Many Liberals (including myself) voted for Obama believing and hoping that he would end these programs.  I have an issue with Republicans that are suddenly outraged now that a Democratic president is continuing these programs.  (i.e. Sean Hannity as well as some GOP lawmakers who voted for the original Patriot Act)  I also don’t understand why there are Democrats that have no issue with Domestic Surveillance under Obama.

President Obama has said recently that he is happy that we are having this debate.  I’m honestly not sure what to think about Edward Snowden.  I think he did a courageous thing by risking his future by releasing what was happening at the NSA, but I am not ready to label him a hero if the information he released risks the lives of our intelligence people around the globe.  I am happy that we know what has been going on in the NSA, but I think it is premature to call him a hero, before all of the facts are out.  I hope that Congress does something soon to stop warrantless wire tapping on all Americans guilty or innocent.

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