Author Topic: Hang up on NSA phone tracking  (Read 1355 times)

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Offline UltraTime

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Hang up on NSA phone tracking
« on: December 19, 2015, 20:46:52 PM »
http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/12/18/hang-nsa-phone-tracking/77601244/

Hang up on NSA phone tracking

 From THE NEWS STAR

8:16 p.m. CST December 18, 2015

Within days of the murder of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., by Islamic State sympathizers, a number of Republican senators are moving to resurrect a truly bad idea. Once again, they want to allow the National Security Agency to sweep up the phone records of virtually all Americans.

The once-secret “metadata” program, which a federal appeals court found amounted to “sweeping surveillance” of Americans’ data in “staggering” volumes, ended in November, four days before the San Bernardino massacre. Now, some of the program’s supporters are playing on the fears created by the California attack to try to bring the intrusive program back to life.

In fact, the program had been operating for nine years before Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, murdered 14 people at a holiday party. It was operating when they were married, when she came to the U.S. and when, according to news reports, Farook had contacts with six people whom federal authorities had scrutinized for possible terrorism ties.

The metadata program — first revealed in 2006 by USA Today and confirmed in 2013 by fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden — apparently picked up none of it. That’s neither a black mark on the program nor a reason to think its absence for a few days contributed to the attack.

Even so, a measure to put the old program back in operation at least until early 2017 is being pushed by Republican senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida, who’s seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
At Tuesday night’s GOP debate, Rubio argued that the metadata program was “a valuable tool we no longer have at our disposal” and warned that a failure to prevent a future attack “better not be” because the NSA couldn’t quickly access this kind of data. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie agreed it ought to be restored. Both ignore reality.

Reviving the program would take the country back to the panicked weeks after 9/11, when Congress gave the intelligence community all sorts of secret surveillance tools involving phone data, cellphones and emails. When the program was publicly confirmed in 2013, it created a furor. A federal judge said it was likely unconstitutional. President Obama vowed to end it. In June, Congress approved a compromise alternative by a healthy bipartisan majority.

History demonstrates that once such government collections start, they are hard to contain and are prone to abuse. While there have been no reports of abuse, it’s not hard to imagine a future president, with the paranoid tendencies of a Richard Nixon, misusing such tools against political enemies and journalists.
Foes of the new arrangement insist that the government will have access to less data.

 But the director of national intelligence said the volume of records is “greater,” and FBI Director James Comey told Congress he also expects more to be available. Previously, the government did not have access to records from all companies, and some mobile phone records had been out or reach. Now, all companies must comply with orders seeking records.


Close

Before charging off to re-create an intrusive program that two years of questioning, study and compromise put to rest, politicians might want to beef up the visa background checks that missed Malik’s postings on social media supporting jihad. They might also give the new metadata system a chance. Winning the war against terrorism requires not only preventing attacks but also protecting America’s values.

USA Today
GOD FORBID THE LIGHTS GO OUT and a zillion brains have to be retrained to function in manual reality.