Is US really spying on citizens?

President Obama says no, but his denial doesn’t seem as convincing as the information reported by two newspapers.

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The U.S. government’s covert efforts are supposed to be protecting the freedom of its citizens from terrorists or other nations.

But recent revelations from documents leaked to The Washington Post and the British newspaper, The Guardian, indicate that it’s our own government that is threatening freedom. The papers reported the documents indicate a sweeping new program — PRISM — allows the government to sift through email, chats, videos, photos, stored data, Internet phone calls, file transfers, video conferences and logins from nine different Internet providers.

President Obama moved quickly to assure Americans that this spying is not targeting citizens.

“This does not apply to U.S. citizens, and this does not apply to people living in the United States,” Obama said. “I came in with healthy skepticism about these programs. I can say that evaluating these programs they make a difference to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity.”

Perhaps this monitoring of documents will “make a difference” but we remain skeptical that Americans are not being monitored.

If the array of information is as large as reported, there is no way U.S. citizens aren’t at least being touched by, let’s say, collateral spying. And it is probably more extensive than some inadvertent contact.

Our government is keeping tabs on some of us. That, at the least, is creepy. It’s also wrong.

Yes, we should all expect to be inconvenienced at times, but that does not mean we should give up our constitutional right of privacy and to be free from unreasonable search and seizures.

As a wise American once said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Ben Franklin’s observation is as relevant today as it was in 1775.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is taking an aggressive stand against what it terms national security leaks.

The Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into The Washington Post and The Guardian, which broke the story on June 5 that the National Security Agency was secretly collecting millions of phone records from Verizon customers within the United States.

Earlier, it was widely reported Obama’s Justice Department searched phone records of Associated Press journalists and a Fox News reporter.

Investigations need to be conducted, not by the federal government, but of it.

It is important to know if Verizon, Microsoft or other companies were involved in the federal snooping.

Spying on Americans is wrong and it should not be tolerated. If it is as widespread as it now seems, this is a blemish on Obama’s record as president.

Comments

namvet60 1 year, 3 months ago

If these operations are so successful - Why don't they stop the terrorist attacks before they happen instead of after (and pat themselves on the back)? Boston bombing, Fort Hood attack and others if they are so essential to spying on the citizens of the US of A.

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fatherof5 1 year, 3 months ago

I have concerns about the privacy issue - and have had ever since the Patriot Act was passed several years ago - but there have been several instances of thwarted bombing plots as a result. And how many more haven't we even heard about? That's the positive side of this.

I think the question this article correctly raises is: where do we draw the line when it comes to giving up our freedoms to protect our freedoms? I was concerned about it under the previous administration, just as I am under this one. More concerning, though, is that we have no idea who our 2016 or 2020 president will be and how will he/she exercise this kind of power?

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PearlY 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm curious which instances of thwarted bombing plots you feel are attributable to law enforcement tools granted by the Patriot Act. From what little I've read of the background of some of these plots, law enforcement was alerted initially through good old-fashioned informants. As someone who's always been ambivalent about the Patriot Act, I'd love to know that it has actually accomplished its intended purpose.

(And don't you wish they'd stop giving names to these laws for propagandistic purposes? Patriot Act, Defense of Marriage Act, Affordable Care Act, all names that have no real connection to what the laws really do).

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PeggyJoy 1 year, 3 months ago

Spying on citizens! The citizens of this country, that are complaining most likely have told everything about themselves on FaceBook, Twitter, or other chat sites. Besides, anyone that has a computer, and knowledge of how to do research using the Internet can find out anything about anyone at at any given time.

As for ease dropping on your phone calls, what's the complaint! Everyone that has a cell phone seems to enjoy letting everyone know their business by talking loudly in public on their phones. Seems to me, that the majority of cell phone users want everyone to know their business!

http://union-bulletin.com/users/photos/2013/jun/11/11263/

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VinoTinto 1 year, 3 months ago

This program was started by Bush and continued by Obama.

I read at the Associated Press that most of the spying is looking at e-mail contacts and e-mail frequency. I believe if something is suspicious then the content is reviewed.

I would prefer to have total priviacy, however, I am not doing anything illegal, so I am fine with this program, but only if it is used responsibly and prevents/abates terrorism.

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