Has the NSA Gone Too Far?

Stop Watching UsI realize that many of you reading this column believe that Edward Snowden is an American hero and that what the National Security Agency is doing to catch terrorists is not only a grotesque threat to our privacy but an obvious violation of the Constitution of the United States of America.

You may be right.  And an independent board looking into what the NSA is doing has just agreed with you, saying collecting information about hundreds of millions of Americans is illegal and that the data should be “purged.”  President Obama chimed in by first defending what the NSA does and then saying some non-government agency should be in charge of collecting data designed to thwart terrorism.  He then threw the matter over to Congress to decide just what that non-governmental entity should be.

And the U.S. Supreme Court someday may also agree with you. But right now, I don’t.

Am I a big fan of the federal government tracking so many of our phone calls and emails?  No.  But am I more concerned about terrorism than some hypothetical threat to my privacy?  Well, yes.

Dan Henninger has a column about all of this in the Wall Street Journal: “Watching too many Hollywood movies like ‘Enemy of the State’ isn’t the healthiest way to think straight about U.S. security. The NSA has not been a rogue intel operation run out of someone’s back pocket. The NSA surveillance program operates under a federal law debated in public and passed by Congress in 1978, then revised by a vote in 2001.”

I understand that this won’t satisfy many on both sides of the political line, conservatives and liberals who, to put it simply, don’t trust government, big or otherwise.  But many of these people – and that includes many of you reading this – dwell on what Henninger calls, “the right and left edges of U.S. politics” — and for you the threat coming from terrorists comes in second to the threat of Big Brother taking over our lives.

Maybe those who believe the way I do are naïve.  I’ll grant you that possibility.  Government is capable of many bad things – especially the government we have at the moment.  But maybe the other side – the side that believes the president and his government goons are out to get all of us, the way the IRS was out to get conservatives – maybe that side is a tad paranoid about these things.

I realize that most of you reading this play right field (some of you play deep right field), so let me throw a bone from Henninger’s column, a piece of wisdom that targets the usual suspects on the left. “For liberals, disbelievers in evil, no threat is ever as bad as conservatives say it is, whether Churchill warning about Hitler in the 1930s, Reagan about the need for missile defenses, or U.S. street crime. When Rudolph Giuliani sought to bring New York’s crime wave under control, the left called him Rudolph Mussolini, and they meant it.”

But even though conservatives are usually more realistic than liberals about the nature of evil, and while the two sides agree on just about nothing, on this NSA matter, elements on the hard right and the hard left are ideological soul mates, proof that politics really do make strange bedfellows.

As I said at the top, those of you who believe the NSA has gone way too far and pose a threat to democracy may be right.  Just because you’re paranoid – and I’m not saying you are, just that you give that impression at times –doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

But we have police in cars patrolling our neighborhoods, looking us over, and if we appear suspicious – to them! – they might even stop us to ask a few questions.  They have guns and badges and we don’t.  They hold all the cards.  Still, I don’t expect them to get a warrant first.  And between you and me, as long as they don’t walk into my house and go through my stuff absent a warrant, I don’t lose sleep over what they do to protect us from bad guys.

And right now, in the world in which we all currently reside, I worry about terrorist bad guys more than I worry about my government — even the one where Eric Holder is attorney general.  I have no doubt many of you will tell me why I am wrong.

Bernie's Next Column.

Enter your email and find out first.

  • EdWalton

    Goldberg would have a valid argument, if the NSA were tracking terrorists, the fact is this agency is about tracking US citizens. This administration provides weapons to drug cartels and islamic terrorists, then opposes law abiding citizens owning firearms. The question is always who does this White House administration see as the enemy.

  • Ivals

    I played baseball and softball for many years and my position was center field and my political perspective is basically the same. I notice many of the comments to the article are outside the foul lines. It is my opinion that the overwhelming number of the federal workers are loyal citizens and are doing a great job. Their jobs become more difficult when there is a change in the political appointees who usually have an agenda that can sometimes take priority over their primary responsibility. It is the responsibility of Congress to keep that to a minimum. When Congress does not do it, then it is the responsibility of voters to take the corrective action and vote to replace their elected senators and/or representatives. In my opinion the country’s primary problem is the uninterested voter and those voters who vote wearing blinders or a blindfold. The polls lie when they say that the majority of voters disapprove of Congress because if that were true then there would be very, very few incumbents getting reelected.

    • Sheila Warner

      With the choices we have at the ballot box, we might just as well say “eeny meeny miny moe” and then vote for the candidate who is under your finger at the end. We might get better people that way.

      It is odd that Americans hate Congress yet keep sending the same old people back to Capitol Hill. It’s maddening. I am not supporting my representative this time around.

      • Ivals

        I agree with you. One must ask “Would we do worse with the eeny meeny miny moe choice – I think probably not on the average.

        • legal eagle

          Here’s a better question…Why would anyone want to be a member of Congress?

          • Ivals

            Unfortunately it appears that the only reason is $$$$$$

          • legal eagle

            The job doesn’t pay that well after living and travel expense….

          • Integrity

            He is not talking about the official salary! LOL

      • legal eagle

        You have one Congressman…You’re vote will make a huge difference…..NOT

    • legal eagle

      What does the term “loyal citizen” mean?

      • Ivals

        From my perspective it is one who does their best to complete their tasks in accordance with written policy. If they get direction contrary to policy then they will attempt to raise the issue (in accordance with the written procedures) to a higher level of management. If they don’t trust their chain of command then some will become whistle blowers.

        • legal eagle

          “In my opinion the country’s primary problem is the uninterested voter and those voters who vote wearing blinders or a blindfold.”
          And what makes you an interested voter? The polls ssay the most voters disapprove of Congress, not their Congressperson. House and Senate incumbents have a 90% reelection rate…

          • Tim ned

            You answered your own question. As Ivals stated the voters have blinders on.

          • legal eagle

            I guess the geniuses who comment on this site constitute the informed voters?…..LOL

          • Tim Ned

            Perhaps looking inward based upon Ivals commentary is to difficult for you to comprehend. Or, you are too far lost in your bubble to re-evaluate your positions. How did you not grasp the fact that your answer, 90 % reelection rate, is exactly what this poster was talking about? How could a legal mind miss that? Well, you may be LOL but I think you’re SOL!

          • legal eagle

            My point was that people dislike Congress but like their Congress person…The facts bear this out…I would look inward but I have a doctor who usually does that for me…LOL

          • Integrity

            Yes. QED

        • legal eagle

          Do you think government workers have a copy of their department’s written policy handy and consult it prior to completing a task they are told to do?

    • Tim Ned

      Outstanding commentary Ivals. I know many teachers in the public school system fed up with the state and federal mandates that prevent them from doing their jobs. They work long hours evenings doing work they can’t get accomplished during the day. And you are right, it’s the voters fault.

      • Ivals

        Thanks Tim. You are so right about the public school system.

  • firststater

    I hope there is an equal amount of energy being spent on figuring out how a low level individual like Snowden got exposure and access to the materials he did and knowledge thereof. The issue as I see is not the NSA collecting and holding the info, or for that matter, how they use it for national security and defense purposes. What I do worry about is the seeming ineptness in the agency (ies) in letting the Snowdens happen. As for terrorism I believe our worries would be considerably lessened if we would get out and stay out of the affairs of these countries. As the most powerful nation on the planet there is no reason for the paranoia that exists with respect to actions of these states. There was no need to make the Department of Defense the Department of Offense to handle responses to actions of these entities or crackpots within. Nothing proves this more than the fact that we touched off two wars in the region lasting double digit years, without clear objective or misleading premise, no definition of “win” and exit strategy.

  • legal eagle

    Congrats to Bernie Goldberg for gaining some new paranoid older wing nuts to your site…Reading some of the crazies who have commented about their paranoia is a perfect example of why the Republicans won’t win back the Presidency until possible 2024….Keep up the great work…

    • Tim Ned

      Did you really think that you alone had the right to be the single wing nut on this site?

  • Vance P. Frickey

    Eric Holder is to Barack Obama as John Mitchell was to Richard Nixon. Sorry, but we can’t rely on him to enforce the law against his boss’ political allies, or what the KGB used to call “socially-friendly elements” – professional felons with criminal records who aren’t being prosecuted for possessing firearms. We can’t rely on him NOT to abuse his power to prosecute people who defend themselves from the wrong mugger. So “safety” compels us to oppose the power of the NSA in the hands of such men.

    • legal eagle

      Those colored folks, Obama and Holder, are untrustworthy….We need more white guys like Reagan and Meese…

      • Tim Ned

        Won’t comment on your racist analogy but Reagan’s approval rating at this point in his presidency is about 20 points higher than what Obama’s approval rating is. We need another Reagan, white or black.

        • legal eagle

          Ronald Reagan’s approval rating dipped from 63 percent in October of 1986 to 47 percent in December 1986, a month after Reagan organized the special commission to investigate whether arms were traded for hostages as part of the Iran-Contra affair. His ratings rebounded slightly as Vice President George H.W. Bush began campaigning for the presidency in the summer of 1988, reaching 53 percent, according to Gallup.

          • Tim Ned

            I am true and your’s seem to be right. And Reagan in perspective has become one of the most admired presidents. He has ended up on Gallup’s 10 most admired man over 30 times.

          • legal eagle

            So what’s your point? Reagan is admired by some and respected by most….so what?

          • Tim Ned

            My point, start from the top and read down.

        • legal eagle

          You mean “The tired old man that we elected king”?

      • Vance P. Frickey

        Try some reading comprehension courses. I already compared them – lumped them in the same bag – with two old Republican white guys, Nixon and Mitchell, for whom they’re a much closer match. And nice try making this about race – it’s about abuse of power, dimbulb.

  • Vance P. Frickey

    The prime “safety issue” is placing all the power of the NSA in the hands of a man who’s on record as saying “The Constitution is holding us back.” The voters are on the hook for that decision to the extent that widespread Democrat voter fraud was not.

    • Sheila Warner

      Agreed.

  • Vance P. Frickey

    Mr. Goldberg, we have it from Obama himself, while junior senator from Illinois, speaking in an interview with New England Public Radio: “The Constitution is holding us back.”

    As you know from your experience with CBS News, the press pays no attention when liberals break their own shibboleths, but manages to convey the impression that conservatives have no respect at all for the Constitution.

    And here we have five years of Barack Obama breaking various parts of the Constitution again and again, after confessing his own contempt for the Constitution. How much more evidence do you need that the Obama Administration IS actually out to get us?

    • legal eagle

      Can you cite the quote where Obama said “The Constitution is holding us back”?

      • lemonfemale

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/09/23/why-the-fuss-obama-has-long-been-on-record-in-favor-of-redistribution/

        Apparently something called “Obama Raw”. He did not use those words exactly. Just like calling Mitt Romney a draft dodger- ii’s arguably a correct paraphrase of the truth but it does leave out nuances so someone would want to see what Obama actually said.

        • legal eagle

          You are citing a Forbes opinion column from a right winger with an agenda….
          Romney avoided the draft, like many of us, during the Vietnam War. However, his 4-D status was highly controversial and his later criticism of Teddy Kennedy for being anti-war was hypo critic…

          • Jeff Webb

            So, does this mean you were wrong to call Governor Romney a draft-dodger? Knowing how distasteful hypocrisy is to you, would a democrat who actually did dodge the draft get the same contempt from you?

          • legal eagle

            I think you understand what the term hypocrisy means. You might also check under term chicken hawks.
            The term applies to people like Cheney, Romney, Gingrich etc….I’m not aware of any Democratic chicken hawks but perhaps you can let me know?

          • Jeff Webb

            I wasn’t aware that chicken hawks were draft dodgers–only that they simply never served militarily.

            So you have no problem with a draft dodger per se. Got it.

          • legal eagle

            Whatever…

        • Sheila Warner

          President Obama said the Constitution is flawed because it reflected “colonial” views, and that those same flaws still exist in America today. There was another radio interview I heard about redistribution of wealth. I’ll try to find that link. In the meantime:

          • lemonfemale

            To Sheila Warner. THANK YOU for all of those links.
            To Legal eagle (sic) the article cites the original, which I had not found and includes quotes long enough IMO to give context.

        • Sheila Warner

          The link below is to a YouTube audio file in which you hear the President saying it out of his own mouth. Now I have to figure out a way to get a decent link.

          Try this one: http://youtu.be/a_xNyrzB0xI

        • Sheila Warner

          Here’s a link to a 1998 speech at Loyola, regarding the efficacy of gov’t and the need for redistribution. Again, his own words out of his mouth.

          http://youtu.be/ge3aGJfDSg4

    • Sheila Warner

      LE wants a source. Try this one: http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/09/23/why-the-fuss-obama-has-long-been-on-record-in-favor-of-redistribution/

      I believe it includes a link to the original radio interview, but I didn’t check the link myself because I heard the interview audio at other places.

  • the Hankster!

    Just for fun, what if the activities of the NSA (and other WH admin. policies the past 6 years) were not designed to alert Americans to terrorism, but were used to inform terrorists what the US was planning to do?! Yeah, you’re probably right. After all, our foreign policy has really been stellar! Just ask the people responsible for Benghazi. We really showed em…!

    • legal eagle

      What if you had the capacity to control your paranoia? Just asking…

      • PolkaDot

        Are you a lawyer or a psychiatrist? Just curious, as you have been clearly over-diagnosing paranoia during the course of this discussion…

      • Vance P. Frickey

        Paranoia? The Obama State Department tripped all over itself supporting the Muslim Brotherhood’s bid to seize power in Egypt. They put security for the ambassador and his staff in the hands of a local islamist militia.

        Given that the Hankster! remarks are ridiculous on their face – all Obama’s people would have to do is forward policy papers and copies of the National Intelligence Daily right to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeds, it IS, in fact, giving lethal military aid to units which include elements of Al-Qaeda in Syria.

        These Free Syrian Army elements have been accused by no less than the United Nations of being the first users of nerve agents in Syria, something which our Secretary of State Kerry has repeatedly failed to acknowledge. They murder Christians, Jews, and Muslims who won’t bend the knee to Al-Qaeda’s version of Islam.

        So while Hankster may have his specifics wrong, his remarks aren’t as paranoid as you say in their broad strokes. Our President IS providing aid and comfort to groups which have declared emnity to us and our allies around the world. And no one in the press is calling him on it.

        • legal eagle

          We have geniuses like you. Why do we need the press? Is Fox News not part of the press?

  • wildjew

    Just a little off-topic. I wonder how intellectually honest you are Mr. Goldberg, along with some of your readers. You are a regular guest on Bill O’Reilly’s program; almost nightly. I’ve been watching and listening to O’Reilly for many years. I am a “fairly” old man now.

    I remember O’Reilly had a radio program syndicated here in our Florida community. I have a long memory when it comes to attacks against the Jews. Back then O’Reilly boasted that he was a friend and business partner with ultra-traditionalist Catholic film producer Mel Gibson.

    Do you remember Mel Gibson and his “Passion of Christ” movie controversy? The Anti-Defamation League (Abraham Foxman) and other Jewish organizations were rightly worried about the production given the history of these “Passion Plays” in Germany (Oberammergau) and other European cities. Terrible pogroms against the Jews ensued in their wake.

    Foxman and others wanted to meet with Gibson to go over the script. They properly worried that Gibson might portray the Jews as Christ-killers, quoting from the book of Matthew, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” etc. Gibson did not want to meet with these people.

    O’Reilly took to the radio airwaves warning there would be a public backlash against his those who criticized his friend, Mel Gibson. It was clear who O’Reilly had in mind. After Gibson went did his inebriated tirade against the Jews and how they / we are responsible for all the wars, etc., I do not remember O’Reilly saying anything about his friend and business partner. Does anyone know what O’Reilly said?

    Often I wonder why Bill O’Reilly features Jewish authors and writers like Bernard Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer and other prominent Jews.

    Do you wonder Mr. Goldberg?

    • wildjew

      Bill O’Reilly has been urging his audience to e-mail a question to President Obama for his up-coming interview which will be read on the air giving attribution (nationally) to the person who posed a great question.

      O’Reilly: “I will ask Obama one question from you guys. So if you want to be the person who is mentioned in the interview, you have to think deeply, put forth a pithy question, that’s different. Different is the key word. Stupid stuff is tossed immediately… right into the can.”

      I can well imagine that is true. I would like to ask O’Reilly a pithy question that’s different but my guess is it will be tossed immediately… right into the can.

    • Sheila Warner

      Part of the reason I never watched “Passion” is because of Mel Gibson. I see him as arrogant and completely self-aggrandizing. He come across to me as a self-righteous SOB.

      [BTW, Robert Downey Jr. Whoopi Goldberg, & Jodie Foster have also defended him in the past. But I digress.]

      Shortly after becoming a Catholic, I became aware of the “Traditionalists”, who hate everything Vatican II accomplished. They attend Mass in Latin only, and most of the ones I know are the most judgmental people on earth. They are anti-Semitic. Of course the Jewish community had reservations about how Jews would be portrayed in “Passion”!

      We should not gloss over any public figure’s views on Judaism. I agree with you 100% on that. We should know the agenda behind any person we choose to pay attention to. Having this knowledge is just another tool in our tool box when we are seeking out other points of view on an issue. We take the agenda into account when we compare what we believe with what another does.

      I believe that the President’s Muslim background definitely affects his foreign policy. George W Bush’s Christianity affected his foreign policy, too. We need not be naive about our leaders.

      • wildjew

        I agree, Obama’s background affects his policies. Why do you think Bill O’Reilly would attach himself to such an anti-Semitic man like Mel Gibson knowing Gibson and his father Hutton Gibson’s intense hatred for the Jews? Why would O’Reilly warn Jews that there will be a public backlash for questioning his movie? I wonder if O’Reilly himself harbors anti-Semitic feelings.

        • Sheila Warner

          It’s hard to know, but since I watch his show, I’ll be looking to see if there is any hint of anti-Semitism. I saw a YouTube video of O’Reilly attacking the media for hounding Gibson after the DUI rant. Geraldo was discussing it with O’Reilly. It was edited, so I can’t know all of what was said. I do know that O’Reilly has changed his tactics on what he calls unjust attacks by the media on people. He will now call out a journalist by name. Prior to that, he thought his anger would somehow change the higher ups in media corporations. I think he’s gotten a tiny bit less belligent in the 5 years I’ve been watching. Just a tiny bit, mind you!

        • legal eagle

          You seem to see anti-Semitism in many places based upon connecting the dots…I’m no fan of O’Reilly but If O’Reilly likes Mel Gibson that makes him anti-Semitic?
          A bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

      • legal eagle

        Don’t you think that someone’s actions are far more important than their agenda?

        • Sheila Warner

          Yes, which is why I don’t watch his movies.

  • wally12

    I believe that the NSA collection of information is important in an attempt to catch the bad guys. However, the agencies of the government get corrupted as easily as ordinary people do. It has already been shown that politicians can corrupt an agency simply by placing administrators who lean one way or the other. The prime example is the IRS which is suppose to be neutral. Personally, I have some reservations on the collection of citizen information. For instance, I object to the collection of information by the government on whether I own a gun and how many and type. Information of gun ownership must exclude citizens who have not been arrested for gun violence or are mentally unfit to own a gun. Today, It may not make a difference but 5,10 or 40 years from now it most certainly will when an dictatorial government comes to confiscate my gun. Don’t believe me? Check on Governor Coumo’s statement that guns should be confiscated.
    I would agree to an agency such as NSA to collect citizen information provided that all information from all elected officials be collected and available to the public. That means all phone conversations,emails, committee meetings, lobbyist conversations with sweet deals are available for public to review and to be able to act on. No more presidential privilege Think of how much transparency would improve and less corruption in government..

  • beniyyar

    Snowden is no hero, a treacherous and dangerous psycho, yes. His “leaks” may well have led to and will lead to the death of those real heroes who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep us safe, and the rogue dictatorships at bay. Snowden would be executed in any normal country for his treachery.

  • lemonfemale

    There is actually nothing strange about arch liberals and arch conservatives agreeing. I will allow my doctor to look at and handle exceedingly private places. I will NOT extend the same privilege to the perv in the open raincoat. Why? Because my doctor is impersonal. To the opponents of the NSA- and to me under this administration- the government is the perv. The Left says “Kent State”. The Right says “Waco.” The Left says “McCarthy”. The Right says “IRS and the Tea Party.” Under Obama the government IS out to get us so I don’t want them to have the means. Make government impersonal again and I would be more sympathetic. (To Bernie Goldberg. It would facilitate police work if they didn’t need warrants. So how about it?)

    • legal eagle

      Are you referring to your psychiatrist or your gynecologist? LOL
      By the way, I never knew Kent State was a political issue…You mean the right wingers thought it was OK to shoot student protestors?

      • lemonfemale

        Don’t know how far back you go but at the time Kent State was a rallying cry for the hard Left, as in “they’re shooting students now.” As in “the government is out to get us.” The Right, would reply that there had been violent protests even at Kent State and the Guard had the right to defend itself. Kent State was intensely political. One protester dipped his black flag in the blood of one of them. This captures it very well.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs6aaaJBAv0

        • legal eagle

          The National Guard was defending themselves against what? Shows what morons the war supporters were…like Mitt Romney dodging the draft and supporting the war…

          • lemonfemale

            (Sigh) Not everybody put flowers in gun barrels. Go back and look it up. Myself, it appears the commanding officer fired a shot in the air to get the crowd to back up and the troops thought they were being shot at. My sympathies at the time were solidly with the four. Still are. I could say that I hope your biases can stand the shock of that but I’m done. Thank you for the conversation.

          • legal eagle

            And maybe the National Guard thought the Viet Cong were attacking…what a bunch of B.S.

          • brickman

            Two of the dead were not even demonstrating. Bullets don’t stop because you want them to. They were in an adjacent area.

          • lemonfemale

            You’re probably right. I recall one young man- in ROTC I think- who threw himself on the ground when he heard the gunfire and a bullet bounced up off the ground into his spine.But it has been a long time since I thought about the Kent State 4 so I would recommend anyone check my facts before they accept them as true.

          • PolkaDot

            War supporters…Reminds me of the fact that we are still at war, and have been for many years, including 2009 onward. Have there been any anti-war protests in the past 5 years? Did the nature and the objectives of the war (if there ever were any objectives) change? Or the “anti-war” protests during Bush administration were merely anti-Bush protests?

          • legal eagle

            Did Obama start any wars? If he does there will be plenty of marchers…

          • PolkaDot

            Libya. I will save you time by responding that this was NATO operation.
            And, by the way, question is not whether he started, question is whether he stopped them , and, the closed-ended question is: why does he want to stay in Afghanistan?

          • legal eagle

            Do you think a U.S. invasion, such as occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq can be ended overnight? Obviously, Obama is getting the US out of the Afghan misadventure…Easier to invade then to get out…Don’t want to upset John McCain and his need for never ending war.

          • PolkaDot

            Let us try this once again. And, preferably, without involving the names of the people that voted for the use of force in Afghanistan, such as Sen. McCain, Clinton or Biden. (I know that Mr. President did not vote for it – he was busy voting “Present” in IL Senate at that time).
            Do you recall recent insistence by the President to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond the deadline of withdrawal? If yes, then which part of this behavior indicates willingness to stop the Afghan misadventure?
            Do you recall “NATO” operation in Libya? Who was the Commander-in-Chief at that time? What were our objectives in that short-lived campaign, which unfortunately but very predictably (unless you are the President) has led to the disastrous consequences in all of Northern Africa?
            Do you remember the campaign promise of Sen. Obama to close Guantanamo in the first 100 days of his administration? 2197 days since his first inauguration and it is still open.
            Bottom line: on occasion, you can let yourself to think independently, if you have not lost this ability yet.
            Respectfully,
            PolkaDot

        • Sheila Warner
          • lemonfemale

            Thank you. Definitely worth knowing. I think it is permissible to use “draft dodger” to mean “someone who ducks military service” but knowing the circumstance is worthwhile.

          • Sheila Warner

            Many young men used the education exemption. I think that’s the reason why President Clinton’s draft was deferred. My memory is rusty on that one. Just as in the tax code, where you absolutely can legally find ways to cut your tax bill; during the draft, there were legal ways to avoid the draft.

            The way the draft was implemented was so discriminatory. Those who had the means to go to college got out of the draft. Average young men were the ones who fought the war. Babies, actually. Teenagers of 18 and 19 were sent to Vietnam. It’s always the very young who make the greatest sacrifices in time of war.

          • brickman

            My high school graduating class of 1971 did not have a college deferment option. Tuition was so low compared to now that just about anyone could go to college who really wanted to go. I did factory and janitorial work to afford college. Oh, and I was drafted and spent 2 years in the army.

          • Sheila Warner

            I graduated in 1973. I corresponded with a soldier from my high school while he was in Vietnam. He was wounded by shrapnel & thus came home. It was terrible to see so many men and women hurt, killed, and psychologically damaged. I thank you for your service. That you were drafted into it makes it all the more special. Some draftees went to Canada.

      • Drew Page

        Assuming you were/are a lawyer, did you ever represent clients that were Republican or conservative? Or did you just fail to represent them after taking their money? Did you ever talk to those clients with the same crude, irrelevant remarks. You are a no class ass.

        • legal eagle

          As long as the matter is not political why would I care what their political persuasion is? Normally, the people I represent are not a ignorant or as hateful as you are….

  • Florida Jim

    When we start giving up freedom for security we end with neither. If we have no trust in our government as we do with Obama/Holder/Kerry/Hillary it is a dilemma but I opt for Freedom.

    • legal eagle

      Exactly the point…Right wingers only trust Republicans…The height of hypocrisy…

      • lemonfemale

        Hate to bust your bubble but I like Nat Hentoff. Anyone who has ever sat the board of ACLU has got to have some Left in him. And I despise Nixon. Then again, I’m not sure what one would call me since I favor gay rights and gay marriage. Of course, so does Dick Cheney. Look past the party label. Cow one is not cow two.

        • legal eagle

          I like Nat Hentoff also…so what’s your point?

          • lemonfemale

            If I am a right winger because I am prolife and we like the same person who at least started out Left are you a right winger as well? Or are right wingers not all alike? Or is your definition of right winger “someone who only trusts Republicans”? In which case you are correct that they only trust Republicans but since that is a tautology it is meaningless. “All look same” is not any way to conduct a conversation. It plays only to your base, if any, and to your non-typing hand.

          • legal eagle

            Pro-life is just a wedge issue in the political discourse….There is a difference between being an ideologue and someone who holds a that you disagree with…Frankly, I am of the age where I saw what happened pre Row v. Wade…people with money got abortions, people without them either didn’t or died from botched abortions…If they banned abortions in the US the same thing would happen again…It’s none of my concern what decisions women make regarding having abortions..it’s called free choice…

          • Jeff Webb

            Interesting that the very people who would say “keep the govt out of our bedrooms” want the govt to enter the bedrooms & pay for abortions.

          • legal eagle

            Perfect…Change the subject from the subject of women’s right to choose to government funding….So you are pro-choice unless it’s government funded?

          • Jeff Webb

            Just making an observation, didn’t intend to change the subject.

            To answer your question, I think abortion is generally wrong, but not in cases of danger to the mother or sex crimes. I recognize abortion is legal, as liberals should recognize that mandating it be funded with private money doesn’t make it illegal. The “keep govt out…” mantra is as much an argument for private funding as abortion being legal.

            Know what isn’t pro-choice? Making the pro-life pay for abortions whether they want it or not, via taxes or otherwise.

          • legal eagle

            Isn’t your last point covered under the Hyde Amendment? And which abortions are you paying for? I don’t like paying for farm subsidies to corporate farms….What’s your point?

          • Jeff Webb

            >>Isn’t your last point covered under the Hyde Amendment?<>And which abortions are you paying for?<>I don’t like paying for farm subsidies to corporate farms….What’s your point?<<

            Countless things are subsidized by tax dollars that I don't like, including the farms. Point is, are they demanding the subsidies and telling the government to stay out of their barns at the same time?

          • legal eagle

            Well at least you are pro-choice…there’s something we agree on…..Now I can work this week with a clear mind…LOL

          • Jeff Webb

            I’d probably be a closer fit to the liberal definition of “pro-life.” I see abortion for what it is: killing an unborn human being. I don’t dress it up in insulting euphemisms.

            When Pelosi and others say things like “women’s reproductive health,” they’re lumping abortion in with things like BCP’s and pap tests. It’s an attempt at moral equivalence and to paint abortion opponents as monsters, when in reality they’re for practically every other medical service.

          • legal eagle

            Good to see some occasional rational thinking on your part….LOL
            Partial birth abortion is a political issue not a medical issue. It is used by the right to make a political statement and, in practical terms, are extremely rare.

          • legal eagle

            Let me rephrase….Which Federal program funds abortions?

          • Jeff Webb

            Not sure–was a program/name given to the govt’s annual gifts of hundreds of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood?

            (I know, I know, “the money doesn’t go to abortions/only a tiny % of PP’s services rendered are abortions/we’re only covering other medical care & adoption services.” Don’t buy it.)

          • legal eagle

            I’m sure the Administration is concerned because you “don’t buy it”….LOL

          • Jeff Webb

            LE, if there’s one thing about this administration, it’s that they’re not remotely concerned about people knowing what they do, but I digress.

            I merely answered your question; apparently you mistook that for me requesting a petty response.

          • Sheila Warner

            You can get a real inside look at PP if you read this book. http://www.amazon.com/Unplanned-Dramatic-Planned-Parenthood-Eye-Opening/dp/1414339402

          • Jeff Webb

            The author & her story sound familiar. Thanks for the info. : )>

          • Sheila Warner

            Or, go into bedrooms and deny gays the right to marry.

          • Jeff Webb

            Or, force clergymen into bedrooms to perform their ceremonies. (Whether or not states legalizes their marrying, I think they deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples, so you know.)

          • Sheila Warner

            As long as civil marriages are permitted, churches which do not believe in gay marriage are free to continue their First Amendment right to believe only in traditional marriage. When it becomes clear that gay marriage is not going to be the collapse of marriage in general, perhaps the churches will relent. Only time will tell.

            I do believe that it will not be long before we see gay marriage in every state. There is more litigation out there, and when more and more states drop the ban on gay marriage, it will be harder and harder for the hold-out states to maintain the status quo.

            What really gets my goat is that states who ban gay marriage don’t follow the reciprocity laws. I am from NJ but got married in IL. When I returned to NJ, I didn’t have to get married again. Reciprocity should be across all state lines–the lack of reciprocity is where we find quite a bit of inequality. That was behind the case of Windsor, which struck down part of DOMA.

          • legal eagle

            “The times they are a changing”
            Bob Dylan 1964

          • lemonfemale

            Your facts are bogus. Meaning no offense to you but they are. People would say “tens of thousands” died from illegal abortions when the total number of maternal deaths in the US from all causes in 1960 was a little over 2,000. After legalization we got Gosnell. We got mills. Where recovery was an hour in a straight backed chair and home. And that’s just the women.

          • legal eagle

            I didn’t say tens of thousands and if it was tens of hundred how does that respond to the point I made? I knew girls who got abortions before Roe because their families could afford to send them for a nice weekend in Puerto Rico…

          • legal eagle

            If you are pro-life than I will not oppose you having as many children as you please….I think it is appropriate that you stay out of other people’s choices…

          • lemonfemale

            I put a man in prison for a choice he made. Choice is not the bottom line here, unless you support free choice for Tamerlin Tsarnaev. Or Ariel Castro. And my sources for this have MD after their name, before you, assume anything. I was not always prolife, but then I read up on the medicalese.

        • Vance P. Frickey

          Good point, lemonfemale – ANYONE who opposed Nixon for his real and alleged offenses against the US Constitution can either be honest and oppose Obama for the same reasons (and even worse offenses against the Constitution, almost all qualifying as impeachable offenses), or a hypocrite and defend Obama for behaving worse than Nixon ever did.

    • veeper

      obama is the head of the dem party and he’s proven he’s a LIAR…..

      you decide if you want to trust a LIAR and his group……

      • legal eagle

        Liar Liar Liar….like a three year old….

        • Drew Page

          Even a three year old can identify a prolific, compulsive liar like Obama.

          • legal eagle

            Even a three year old can identify when their grandfather is bitter and paranoid…

          • Vance P. Frickey

            But a legal eagle can’t read the mounting evidence that our present government is more concerned about suppressing political dissent here than proliferation of nuclear weapons overseas, apparently.

    • Tim Ned

      Ben Franklin voiced a famous quote quite similar. However these are well before the days of WMD’s and Nuclear Weapons.

      • Vance P. Frickey

        Obama’s proposing that the Senate leave all the WMD negotiations with Iran to him and his flunkies despite a record of Presidents lying to the Senate over nuclear weapons proliferation since the Johnson administration, involving both major political parties.

        So your caveat that we ought to give up our rights, such as they still are, because WMDs and Nuclear Weapons exist and might be given to terrorists is a dead letter. Obama and his supporters are arguing that we should take the Senate’s power to advise and consent on foreign relations away from them when it can be used to make Iran less able to proliferate nuclear weapons, as Pakistan was allowed by other Presidents to make nuclear weapons and proliferate not just the weapons themselves but entire assembly lines for nuclear weapons to regimes like Iran with solid records for giving advanced weapons to terrorists.

        • Tim Ned

          I voiced to give up nothing. I try to keep my comments related to the article. The question is pertaining to the NSA spying. You prefer to sit with open boarders and eliminate our intelligence agencies from taking the actions to protect us? The 9/11 ers’ used planes as WMD’s. Nuclear proliferation is a complex issue as is intelligence gathering.

        • Sheila Warner

          Agreed, again. The Senate is no longer the body of advice and consent–it is only consent. That is partially true because of the power of Harry Reid.

  • Roadmaster

    Today is not the day to argue in favor of Big Brother to me – got a photo/radar speeding ticket from the PHX area from Jan 1, driving my mother’s vehicle. Actually she got it after several weeks of it traveling through the mails trying to catch up to her. She wasn’t even with us.

    I wanted to blow it off, or trace an outline of my hand with one finger extended in salute and send it back, but Mom says, no – take care of it. Okay, it has her name on it. Looks like I’ll be going to traffic school on line. They don’t care – revenue is revenue, whether you pay the fine and go to their silly safety course.

    I miss being insulted to my face by a real life cop. Cameras are so uncaring…

    • legal eagle

      If you’re so right why aren’t you defending yourself in Court? Another whiner…

  • David Gorton

    Tough call on this one, Bernie. Henninger’s right, it’s not a back pocket operation, but I believe, also, there’s a heavy dose of politics at play. Particularly “political correctness” by the Obama Admin.; “. . . . .we don’t profile, we just watch everybody, all the time”! “Stop and Frisk” drastically cut crime in New York, but because it smacked of profiling, pc’ers pressured authorities to end the program. I’m not sure the left knows who are the “real” bad guys.

  • lark2

    The NSA has been at this task of spying on Americans for some time. As the technology advances, the techs can go deeper and deeper. When they get bored EVERYONE would probably be shocked at what they can do. We now have a President who thinks he is a King. These NSA types and their supporters lean on the need to keep the terrorists at bay and it’s hard to argue about that but, I do wonder … in all the time they have been corralling all this metadata … on AMERICANS … have they discovered anything that has saved a life? Oddly enough, when they were watching Bin Laden, they couldn’t wait to tell the NY TIMES they were listening in on his satellite phone – of course he stopped using it. Then they couldn’t wait to tell the NY TIMES they were studying the terrain in the “background” in his videos … of course he started recording in front of a white sheet…. but, when it comes to spying on AMERICAN citizens … it was all deep dark secret. Can we or should we … TRUST the NSA ? I’m inclined to IF they are properly vetted. One thing is for sure … I DON’T TRUST THIS PRESIDENT and his “people” !

    • legal eagle

      Only trust Republicans?….what a hypocrite you are..

      • lark2

        Sir, I never said I only trust Republicans. In my lifetime, there have been numerous Democrat Presidents … Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton. While my knowledge and maturity evolved … I TRUSTED them all enthusiastically. I didn’t agree with everything they did but I TRUSTED them all. I don’t TRUST Barack Obama! Please save the “racial” commentary. I am a well educated, dark skinned Puerto Rican who has experienced lots of discrimination growing up in NEW YORK. Discriminating against people because of their race or color is not in my DNA. I DON’T TRUST THIS PRESIDENT!

        • legal eagle

          You trusted LBJ? Based upon his tapes he was almost as paranoid as Nixon….Perhaps you’ve just become more cynical and bitter as you’ve gotten older…not that unusual….By the way, I grew up on the LES of NYC in the middle of the racial mix….

          • PolkaDot

            Racial mix does not mean a thing when everyone around you is of the same color…RED

          • legal eagle

            Red, white black and yellow….Beware of those Commies…there keeping track of how often you watch pornography daily.

          • PolkaDot

            Your style is beyond repair. But, at least, watch the grammar – illiterate lawyers may be kept in contempt of court.

          • legal eagle

            My paralegal only corrects my spelling when I’m paying her to so….LOL

      • Vance P. Frickey

        Don’t condemn Obama for using the IRS to punish his political opposition (and the number of “corrections” from the White House responding to Darrell Issa’s investigation of IRS UnionGate show substantial evidence that the White House was cognizant of what its supporters in the IRS union were doing), and other abuses of his power which go beyond Nixon’s record? What a hypocrite YOU are.

        • legal eagle

          What is the IRS union?

  • SkyCitizen

    Bernie, I’m with you on this. Your reasoning is rock solid.

    Frankly, I could care less how much data the Government collects or how it’s collected. What I do care about is the NSA staying on task. Unfortunately that responsibility rests with a Congress that is not doing such a hot job of keeping the IRS on task. I’ll keep a open mind as to whether the Congress is capable of protecting the citizenry from terrorism and the delinquency of politics.

    Certainly the President is befuddled by this concept and even if he did understand it he would see no political advantage thus remaining a bystander.

    After 9/11 I was impressed by the unity of this country and since that date the true nature of Muslim extremism has revealed itself. The trough of extremism is indeed deep. Muslims believe we are evil. They also believe that everything in their lives that is wrong is because of us. The proof of this, to Muslims, pours out of Hollywood from a firehose. Yet some succumb to the false hope of negotiating for our safety. If President Obama has any kind of legacy at all it will be that he has proved negotiation does not work and that history again repeats itself.

  • Nannie boobot

    D.Parri, you are well-spoken and present your ideas well. However, my distrust is not the “potential for abuse….” nor is it “unauthorized use of those powers…”
    lIt is not just “history” that is rife, it’s the here and now. This administration has proved its perfidy in all the countless stories outlining them.. It’s too late for “debate;” the wolf has already entered the hen house.

    • D Parri

      Perhaps we are long overdue a thorough house-cleaning of our political system. I’m afraid, though, that as long as entitlements can be sold for votes…the environment is not likely to change enough for a good ‘cleaning’.

  • Sheila Warner

    You’ve never been pulled over by a police officer for no good reason, have you, Bernie? Since the PATRIOT Act was passed, I have assumed the government spies on us all the time. I was not surprised when Snowden “revealed” what the NSA does–and, I was surprised that so many citizens were surprised. The collection of all that data did nothing to stop the underwear bomber, the attempted bombing in Times Square, the shoe bomber, or the bombing of the Boston marathon. Maybe the NSA has too much data. It doesn’t seem very efficient to me at all. Where is the harm in following the Bill of Rights and getting warrants for individuals? Paranoid? Not at all. Just supremely annoyed by the attempts to win Americans over to the NSA’s tactics by using fear. That’s how we got the PATRIOT Act in the first place.

  • D Parri

    Part II

    The drawback of increased scope of surveillance for most people appears to come from the potential for abuse of power and an unauthorized use of those powers to inhibit, restrict, or in some way limit the constitutional freedoms that we perceive to be our inherent rights as Americans.

    History is rife with stories and examples of governmental overreach, and history is rich with lessons that teach us freedom is not to be taken for granted. Struggles for obtaining personal freedom–and maintaining that freedom–have been bloody, ugly, and costly.

    I think that is the precedential consideration for those who would draw back the hands and fingers of government for the purpose of securing their freedoms. It is no coincidence that the Privacy v. Safety debate rarely, if ever, gains any foothold during times proceeding an actual attack which is seen to threaten the American citizenry.

    So, the debate over the NSA’s policies are absolutely going to be seen through many prisms, and the colors of the arguments contained therein should help bring to light the clearest picture of a situation that we now deal with. Hopefully, we will also find the best solution for the problem by holding an open forum of debate.

    • joepotato

      That was well stated (sort of)… The 4th amendment, as well as all of the others, were put in for a reason… Those that tear down those fundamental principles should be tried as criminals, and if found guilty, go to prison and not pass GO… You can’t have it both ways… The original security of the nation was founded on the business end of small arms and artillery…
      That’s just the way it was… and still is…

      • D Parri

        Thanks (I think).

      • Sheila Warner

        Well said. I could almost hear our founders rolling over in their graves when the PATRIOT Act was signed into law.

  • wildjew

    Does anyone know if you board an EL AL jet liner and you have a Middle Eastern or Arab appearance you will be profiled? Who said the following at al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt (June 2009) in a speech to the Muslim world? “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear….” Could this have anything to do with Barack Obama’s NSA eavesdropping on ordinary, law-abiding Americans who pose no threat to this country, rather than eavesdropping on those who might or more than likely do pose a threat to this country?

    • D Parri

      As I understand the most recent policy statements, neither nationality nor religious preference will be used for the purpose of personally profiling and individual and determining their potential for risk against the United States.

      • Sheila Warner

        And you believe that? I do not. But I believe the profiling will not be limited to ethnicity and country of origin. When you see a conservative evangelical group on the Southern Law Poverty Center’s hate group list, you have to wonder just who is being watched. It depends on who has influence in the WH. Just my opinion, here. I don’t believe anything our President declares to be true anymore.

        • legal eagle

          Thank you for your paranoia…Perhaps, the cold has negatively affected your capacity for logical reasoning….oh, I forgot, you are a moderate…..LOL

          • wildjew

            Do you think any of this might possibly inform Mr. Obama’s worldview?

            “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements (Jewish communities in the Holy Land; land God gave to the children of Israel)…..As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of god (Allah) and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can…I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed…my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk…..And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear….Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President….” etc.

            (President Barack Obama’s Speech to the Muslim World, al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, June 2009)

        • legal eagle

          So now the SLPC is a government related group…Paranoia runs deep in New jersey except where Christie is concerned?

        • D Parri

          Sheila, I’m not sure which point you are referring to as disbelief, but I have not believed Obama’s claims for about 5 years now.

          I do believe that officially the policy regarding profiling and race and religious origins has already been issued. However, the reality will probably amount to specific political targets being scrutinized the same as ever…and that will include race and religion.

          • Sheila Warner

            I was referring to the use of profiling based on ethnicity & national origin. I’m glad to see you realize the difference between the official policy and reality.

          • D Parri

            Yes, I have seen the chasm for many years. The difference with this president is that he is not even part of the ‘divide’.

            He is not interested in coming together–he is intent upon rebuilding the world as we know it, i.e., the “Fundamental Transformation” that he has become known for. He has an idea, but he doesn’t know how to accomplish that ‘rough plan’.

            So, we have a president who obviously would do away with many of the freedoms and privileges that our forefathers fought and died to gain and keep, believes that anything is acceptable behavior providing you achieve your goals, and his greatest wish is to “rebuild” our nation into a form that even he has no clear picture of what that should be.

            I do not trust Obama and I cannot remember having ever trusted him. The closest that I have come to that was when I was willing to discount my concern over some of his actions and statements as simply, “Well, he a politician.”

            It has only gotten worse since then.

      • wildjew

        And THAT my friend is insane. Which is why Mr. Goldberg is missing the point in this piece.

        • legal eagle

          You should change you moniker to “psychoticjew”…LOL

          • wildjew

            Oh you are so funny!

          • legal eagle

            You’re not….paranoid and delusional is a good description for you…

          • wildjew

            Here, I will re-post this comment from above, in case you missed it:

            I am thinking psychotic or delusional Jews were those in Germany who thought they could negotiate with the German dictator as had been the case in the past when it came to cutting deals / negotiating with dedicated anti-Semites. Psychotic / delusional is thinking Barack Obama is a friend of the Jews and Israel.

          • legal eagle

            Jews were negotiating with Hitler? Was this some secret negotiation you’ve dreamt up? Care to cite a source for your statement?

          • wildjew

            Here is how British Historian Paul Johnson put it:

            “(No) resistant movement emerged. There were reasons for this. The Jews had been persecuted for a millennium and a half and had learned from long experience that resistance cost lives rather than saved them. Their history, their theology, their folklore, their social structure, even their vocabulary trained them to negotiate, to pay, to plead, to protest, not to fight…..In 4,000 years the Jewish had never faced, and never had imagined, an opponent who demanded not some, or most, of their property, but everything; not just a few lives, or even many, but all, down to the last infant. Who could conceive of such a monster? The Jews, unlike the Christians, did not believe the devil took human shape.”

            (“A History of the Jews” by Paul Johnson, page 506)

          • legal eagle

            I’m not familiar with the book…but thanks for the cite…

          • D Parri

            Dust off your history books and take a look at…

            The Haavara Agreement…
            the Weissmandel proposal…
            the Kasztner affair…
            Joel Brand…
            the Hungarian Aid and Rescue Committee…
            negotiations with the German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer, Adolf Eichmann…

            Let us know what you find. Oh, BTW, all references came from Wikipedia, with original source citations included. Good luck.

          • legal eagle

            By the way, Harry Truman, a well known anti-Semite, was responsible for the recognition of the State of Israel by the U.N. in 1948…Judge people by their actions not what you think their beliefs are..

          • wildjew

            He deserves “some” credit for that. As you say, he was a known anti-Semite who trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes and stereo-types. Keep in mind too, there was a tough upcoming election in November 1948 against Thomas Dewey and third party candidate Henry Wallace, who according to the Wyman Institute “made Israel a major campaign issue, especially during his appearances in the New York City area. He repeatedly accused Truman of betraying Israel by refusing to provide weapons during its 1948 War of Independence and portrayed himself as the most pro-Israel candidate in the race.”

            Truman needed Jewish money and the Jewish vote.

          • legal eagle

            I judge people by their actions not their words or motives……So do you believe Obama is anti-Israel? What actions has Obama taken that are anti-Israel? If I don’t agree with every policy proposed by the Netanyahu government am I anti-Israel? If I don’t agree with AIPAC am I anti-Israel?
            Tell me are the policy differences, re Israel, between the Clinton and Obama Administrations?

          • wildjew

            I cannot remember any U.S. president before Obama that demanded a building freeze only for Jews (not for Arabs) in Jerusalem and Israel, can you?

            http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/176672#.UuO4WhAo6Uk

            Obama and Kerry ‘Disappointed’ By Jewish Criticism
            Source close to both officials reports they are ‘uncomfortable’ at American Jews’ support for Israel.

            By Ari Yashar

            excerpts:

            A source close to US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the two are “uncomfortable” with what he terms “Jewish activity in Congress,” which they apparently see as being orchestrated by the Israeli government.

            After Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called Kerry “obsessive” and messianic” in his push for an Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace deal, in which he reportedly is manipulating European boycotts to pressure Israel, Labor party head Yitzhak Herzog
            lashed out against the “hurtful diatribe.”

            If the reports on Obama and Kerry’s “disappointment” are true, the two have adopted a stance very close to the shrill charges of a “Jewish lobby” controlling Congress, which some see as bordering on the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” libel in its distorted portrayal of Jewish domination.

          • legal eagle

            Yes, Bush 41 was against settlements….I think you’re a little smarter that to cite a story using unnamed sources in a right wing publication…

          • D Parri

            Unfortunately, this has always been Legal Weasel’s MO.

            When obfuscation through lies is not effective, then casting aspersion via personal denigration is the next step. Downright vulgarity is on his menu as well.

        • D Parri

          Tactics followed by the German Schutzstaffel (SS) are keenly reminiscent is the visions created by images of an extreme NSA.

  • D Parri

    Bernie, Bernie, Bernie…let me count the ways. Ok, ①, that is…”one”.

    As far as I can tell, the only point where you err is in assuming that many will tell you that you are wrong. Personally, I do not think that you are wrong. More than that, I feel that an open forum to debate the issue is actually very healthy for all those interested enough to want to provide their input regarding the pros and cons of national security policies.

    We would all like to believe that we will always gain greater security and safety whenever we are willing to give up specific increments of our personal privacy.

  • Cecilio Mendez

    Mr. Goldberg, I tend to agree with many, many, of your published opinions. Not on this one. If you want a “taste” of what the USA can (will?) become, pay me a visit in Puerto Rico. Not a conspiracy-theorist, I am 66 going on 67(I refuse to become old. I am a 21 year young guy, with 45 years of additional experience.) I am also a US citizen and a Vietnam veteran. I have seen and felt what the erosion of undefended rights will lead to. Good old Ben Franklin said it best: “Those who trade their rights for a little convenience, do not deserve either.” May be the quote is not 100% right but the spirit of the one I wrote is the same as the original – exactly.

  • Richard

    I think NSA is doing a good job of protecting us. But similar to what Nannie boobot says, I worry about POLITICIANS getting their hands on detailed phone information. Remember the FBI files when Hillary and Bill were in the White House? The files covered their political adversaries. NSA information is much more comprehensive and real time.

  • Nannie boobot

    I’m not particularly worried about the NSA casting its net, willy-nilly, over all forms of communication. What does bother me is, with which other gov’t. agency it shares the info,, i.e., the IRS, FBI, etc. if I, either in phone conversation or via e-mail, share my feelings about this administration, or gov’t. in general and it somehow gets flagged, can I then be subjected to harassment, or worse, even though ,I make no threats and am merely exercising my right to free speech?
    Maybe “Three Days of the Condor,” isn’t so far fetched after all.

    • legal eagle

      This has been going on since 2001…..Now you’re worried?
      “The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (“warrantless wiretapping”) concerns surveillance of persons within the United States who were in contact with terrorists during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the terrorist surveillance program,[1] part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S.”

  • savage24

    The exceptionalism of this country was predicated on the freedom of the American people, and as government eroded that freedom the exceptionalism waned. The politicians that passed the Patriot Act and the President that signed that Act into law suceeded is speeding up the decline of freedom, and open the door for the NSA to spy on every law abiding citizen of this country, and in essence told the terrorist of the world that they won. Snowden is not a hero, but if he is a traitor then so is Obama, his administration, and our elected government. You can’t blame one without blaming the rest of these fools.

  • homony

    You’re right, everyone else is wrong, Bernie. There is no balance in the minds of the American people; it’s always either or; nothing is thought out. .

    • legal eagle

      There is no balance in the mind of right wing ideologues….There is plenty of balance in the other 90% of Americans..

      • Jeff Webb

        That doesn’t seem like much of an argument, LE. Compared to an ideologue far enough to either side, you’ll find balance in the “other 90% of Americans.”

        • legal eagle

          Can you explain why the right wingers are upset about the NSA only when a Dem is POTUS? I’m serious, there is something totally irrational about this selective paranoia…

          • Jeff Webb

            >>Can you explain why the right wingers are upset about the NSA only when a Dem is POTUS?<<

            You say that's the only time they're upset? Strange thing coming from someone not in the speculation business.

            I actually thought you'd comprehend what I said.
            Lacking balance that 90% of the people have isn't any more right-wing than left-wing. While you may be partisan enough to defend or tolerate extremism on the left, you're not so stupid or clueless that you think it only exists on the right.

          • legal eagle

            Can you cite for me Conservative opposition to the Patriot Act..Other than Bob Barr I don’t recall any….The hypocrisy of the right wingers is overwhelming but your hypocrisy seems par for the course.

          • Jeff Webb

            Even if 100% of conservatives supported the PA, that doesn’t make your original “balance” statement any less hollow. I made a general observation of it because you appeared to be making a blanket statement. Get it now?

          • legal eagle

            You remind me of an old cliché used in litigation..”If you can’t argue the law, argue the facts; and if you can’t argue the facts argue the law; and if neither one is favorable to your client just keep arguing.” LOL

          • Jeff Webb

            I’ve always liked that one.

            Curious: was it something in the legal profession that made you believe in making false statements as if they’re factual?

          • legal eagle

            Something I learned long before law school was to differentiate between an opinion and a statement of fact.

          • Jeff Webb

            Doesn’t explain why you make false statements as if they’re factual, LE.

          • legal eagle

            As opposed to you who can’t differentiate between a fact and an opinion….must make your wife crazy?…..LOL

          • Sheila Warner
          • Sheila Warner

            There was a huge public backlash when George W Bush implemented the PATRIOT Act by having warrantless evesdropping. He didn’t think he needed a court if it was vital to national security. We only have FISA courts because of that consternation. Of course, the FISA courts are rubber stamps with no transparency, but the situation definitely transcends political parties. General warrants are inherently dangerous. The Fourth Amendment was put in the Bill of Rights because of how the British abused their authority when they went after the Americans.

          • Sheila Warner

            https://www.aclu.org/national-security/conservative-voices-against-usa-patriot-act

            A list of conservatives who opposed the PATRIOT Act while George W Bush was in office–from the ACLU!

      • homony

        You say that as an absolute certainty when you know it’s your opinion, not a fact. If you *are* a “shyster”, I could see why you are so sure of yourself. As for me, a normal, sensible, analytical intellectual with a load of common sense, I see Liberal ideologues as unbalanced when it comes to dealing with reality on one hand, and naïve belief in fairy tales on the other. A grown-up would know better than to think a society could thrive on dancing and singing with each other, and not insisting on personal productivity. Such people would be without a paddle in the river if they had to depend on themselves for an economy.
        How do you like that, you, you . . .

        • legal eagle

          As the term “shyster” is derived from an anti-Semitic term I’ll forgive your ignorance…
          So tell me what Liberal ideologue you are referring to or, in your mind, is anyone who doesn’t agree with your political ideology a “liberal ideologue”?

          • homony

            See! you make things up! A shyster /ˈʃaɪstər/ is a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, politics or business.
            Rather than go into a fight, I’ll simply say, You struck me as an ideologue who calls everyone in disagreement, an ideologue, a word YOU had introduced.
            I am a balance person who sees things from every viewpoint, and credit all with the right to exist; to disagree is not to forbid.
            Now, get over it. I’ll not reply to you who probably argues just to not be defeated.

          • legal eagle

            If you say you are a “balance person” I will assume that your gymnastic abilities are extraordinary….LOL

          • PolkaDot

            Can you please explain to the ignorant unwashed masses as to which anti-Semitic term is “shyster” derived from?

      • Tim Ned

        Oh yes, the left wingers ideologues and the occupiers are such balanced people. OMG!

  • Bama

    Here’s why I disagree. No law gave the NSA the right to indiscriminately collect the telephone conversations of every American. They are supposed to get the approval of an independent judiciary before they snoop. Second, we have a government that has already proven it will target conservatives to repress dissent and further their own political agenda. Finally, this government has already proven it is incapable of protecting its data. If it wasn’t, and, yes, I think Snowden is a hero, you would never even know they were collecting this data. Given this ineffective security, that data is available to any hacker worldwide who wants to access all those telephone conversations. As the committee said, 9/11 was not a failure to collect enough data, it was a failure to share it among government agencies and act on a credible risk. NO THANK YOU on listening in on my conversations, Mr. Goldberg.

    • legal eagle

      Have you forgotten about the Patriot Act? Even people in Alabama should know that little fact…

    • legal eagle

      The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (“warrantless wiretapping”) concerns surveillance of persons within the United States who were in contact with terrorists during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the terrorist surveillance program,[1] part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S.

      Critics, however, claimed that the program was in an effort to attempt to silence critics of the Bush Administration and their handling of several hot button issues during its tenure. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court.[2] Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.

      • PolkaDot

        Nice copy-paste from Wikipedia. This is called plagiarism. Just as I suspected (piece was well written and way too coherent for you)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_controversy

        Ask Joe Biden, an old white guy in this administration whom I do not trust. He knows the subject below pretty well,
        just like spelling a 3-letter word “jobs”
        plagiarism

        1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the
        language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author: It is said that he plagiarized Thoreau’s plagiarism of a line written by Montaigne.Synonyms: appropriation, infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.

        2. a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation: “These two manuscriptsare clearly plagiarisms,”
        the editor said, tossing them angrily on the floor.

        http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plagiarism?s=t

    • Arty Cohn

      If you, and the news media, read the right books you would know this type of surveillance was started by government in the early 1940’s in cooperation with Great Britain. In order to catch Nazi spies, but stay within the constitutional limits, Britain would surveil suspect Americans, while America would surveil suspect Americans. But, in actuality, all of the info was shared, and American agencies did all of the suveiling.

  • mthammer

    That would also go for politicians, anybody who has lied , cheated and commited crimes against the US would also be sent to these Penal Colonies. These people made the decision to steal , use their power tocommit crimes or had a handle in tyranny against this country would als be sent to these colonies.It would be very easy for Judges sitting on the court , either you go to prison twice for crimes against society , 3rd time no Jail , No life in Prison , Penal colonies would be the only sentence and no appeals . No white Collar Crime in Easy jails in the country , Like Bernie Madoff , he would have been sent to the penal colonies , if he gets sick , well it would be up to him to survive , not up to society to care for him , after his crime against society , sentenced to life .

  • mthammer

    Bernie although you are a great writer, its not the NSA that is the problem its the Justice system . If we had the confidence in the Justice Department & Eric Holder we would feel different about the work that NSA does. We have enemy prisoners sitting in prisons costing the taxpayers millions of dollars a year , we spent last year just on up keep of the prisoners throughout the country over 68 billion dollars a year. On average it costs the taxpayers over $47,000.00 a year to feed and care for these terrorists , which is outrageous. We have spent millions on improving Guantanimo Bay for the Terrorist locked up there, allowing them to send their propaganda all over the world in emails. What should be established and what I have been asking for the last 20 years is Establishing Penal Colonies in the Aleutian Islands . All terrorists in Cuba would be sent there, all lifers and people on Death Row would go there, not to be mistreated or harassed , no guards just food for 3 months , some shelter and then they will be left on their own to survive. That deterrent alone would bring a halt to terrorists , murderers , sick individuals . Very easy process , you get caught , not legal to be in this country and trying to hurt Americans , thats where you will go. All that I have brought up concerning this , even with areas where these penal colonies could be put would be easily transformed to accomodate these people. Once sent to these colonies , no appeals, prisoners unless they are citizens would get no trial . If they wanted to try and escape , go for it , the only cost to us would be Satelite and drone coverage , preventing these people from getting help to escape. This is not Crude or unusual punishment , these people committed offences against our society , therefore should be sent to an island , where they can try to survive on their own.

    • Arty Cohn

      Good idea!

  • joepotato

    Bernie, you have taken the “terrorist” bait… Although there are such people, mostly Muslim militants that would cause death and mayhem, there may be an already greater threat already in the “gates of the city.” If the established regime was so concerned for the safety of its citizens, why would the southern border be a passageway … Fedzilla is only looking to maintain control over its own people, and the constitution can be da__ed. Rome did not fall due an invasion from external enemies… In closing, if the NSA domestic mega-spying program was so great, what happened in Boston…? Maybe, you’ll get the idea…

  • kayakbob

    Dear Bernie, as usual you make compelling arguments in support of your point of view, which can be annoying. (joke!)

    There was a time when I was in total agreement. The bad guys are more dangerous than my government. And I hope that remains the case today.

    But where I think we now differ is the bases for your analogy of police surveillance in the 2nd to last paragraph. You and I grew up in a world where police patrolled the streets, in cars, looking for suspicious activity outside our businesses and outside our homes. I’m not saying local police are doing anything different today. What I am saying is the imagery you use here – an officer, in a car, observing what’s going on OUTSIDE our houses – was acceptable to all of us largely because we understood that was pretty much the limit of their capability…visual observations outside my house, my yard, my life size statue of Don Shula. What went on inside our homes was private and we “knew” it. So the bargain was easily acceptable.

    That is not the case anymore. The digital age has brought ways to, for all practical purposes, reach inside our homes, our privacy. It could be argued that the technological ability to track my internet surfing & my phone calls provides law enforcement ears inside my house now.

    And that is the rub for me.

  • Brhurdle

    I am well aware that security is achieved at the cost of surrendered freedom – it is a matter of selecting the lesser of two evils. I have decided that the threat of terrorism is the greater evil. From my perspective, the transmission of telecommunications and internet communications by wireless electromagnetic signals are inherently unsecure. Therefore, I accept that these communications are not private and use them accordingly.

    • ARJ127

      When will you give up your right to bear arms in order to reduce the deaths caused by gun violence, accidents, etc.? More people are killed by gunshots each year than by terrorist acts. Why would you sacrifice one freedom but not the other?

      • Brhurdle

        In my opinion, it is a matter of principle – an act of terrorism is an act of war by enemies of the US while the others are individual criminal acts. In addition, gun control has been shown not to work – when you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns (Chicago). I will also readily admit that I’m not at all sure that NSA spying is effective either. I make no phone call or transmit any email that I would not want the public to see.

      • Jeff Webb

        >>When will you give up your right to bear arms in order to reduce the deaths caused by gun violence, accidents, etc.?<<

        You want the majority of law-abiding, responsible people to give up a Constitutional right? You'll need to make a convincing case.
        What % of the aforementioned deaths are accidents, and what % are homicides?
        What % of the people with those guns weren't allowed to have a gun but got one anyway?
        Of the "accidents," what % of them were perfectly legitimate, typically competent gun owners who, in a rare slip, inadvertently shot themselves?
        Will the projected number of deaths prevented by a law-abiding person using his/her gun be higher or lower than the projected number after we give up our right to bear arms? If we stop drinking and/smoking, two things that, like gun ownership, would really have to be outlawed via Constitutional amendment, even more deaths than gun-related ones would be prevented. Should they be outlawed?

        • legal eagle

          I am sure you are aware that there are limits to all Constitutional “rights”. You’re using the old canard where anyone who advocates for limiting gun rights is proposing a total ban on guns…..
          New day…same old talking points…LOL

          • Jeff Webb

            >>I am sure you are aware that there are limits to all Constitutional “rights”.<>You’re using the old canard where anyone who advocates for limiting gun rights is proposing a total ban on guns…..
            New day…same old talking points…LOL<<

            Phew! It is really you.

            Whether or not you've already done so, please read ARJ's first question, the one I quoted in my response. After that, please answer this: do you really think my response to ARJ's question, knowing the way he worded it, is an example of "using the old canard…"?

          • ARJ127

            The NRA would argue that the Second Amendment is absolute. I would argue that there are certain limits such as requiring gun owners to be responsible for the safe storage of their weapons, keeping them out of the hands of children, conducting background checks before selling a firearm, etc. The same applies here. Should the government have access to this information without a warrant and should this access be scoped so that your information isn’t breached by a government on a fishing expedition?

          • Jeff Webb

            >>I would argue that there are certain limits such as requiring gun owners to be responsible for the safe storage of their weapons, keeping them out of the hands of children, conducting background checks before selling a firearm, etc.<<

            There ARE these limits already, and even the NRA recommends such safeguards.
            What you suggested was people give up their right to bear arms, and that's more extreme than anything you can cite from conservatives.

          • ARJ127

            At the risk of going way off topic, I’d say that’s why they lobbied against any legislation mandating background checks. Makes a lot of sense to me. NRA and responsible gun ownership don’t belong in the same sentence. When was the last time a gun owner was charged for unsafe storage of a firearm after a shooting accident?

          • Jeff Webb

            >>At the risk of going way off topic, I’d say that’s why they lobbied against any legislation mandating background checks. Makes a lot of sense to me.<<

            Not sure what you're referring to here.

            Before you draw conclusions about the NRA, I might suggest you find out:
            -whether the proposed legislation is really designed to prevent shootings like the one that spurred the current debate, or if it's just to feel good
            -if there's something in the proposal the NRA's opposing that differs from ones they've previously supported
            -which current laws are being neglected by the government (remember when Joe Biden scoffed at a question about lack of enforcement?), and which regs in the proposed legislation exist in them

          • Sheila Warner

            Twice, at least, in the past year. One was right here in NJ. Children got ahold of their parent’s guns and shot & killed other children. That’s only the two I heard about on the news. I’m sure there are others. At least two school shootings happened because the students had access to parents’ guns. I wish the laws on responsible storage of firearms were enforced with the maximum penalty meted out. I am an avid Second Amendment supporter, but I have no time for those who are not responsible gun owners. In addition to the penalties for not storing guns correctly, these folks need to lose any possible gun ownership in the future.

          • ARJ127

            My position exactly. The NRA will have more credibility when they come up with constructive proposals.

          • Sheila Warner

            Agreed. My husband cancelled his membership in the NRA when it opposed mandatory inclusion of trigger locks at the point of sale.

          • brickman

            That happened in my county. The gun owner is being prosecuted. Most people agree that he should be.

  • ssherbin

    I defer to Benjamin Franklin( to whom this quote is attributed): “They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  • Indi4ever

    The problem with this column is that Bernie doesn’t know what the NSA is doing–nor does anyone outside the NSA really know. He admits this throughout the piece. And when you don’t know, you reveal your trust factors. This is how con-artists and even advertisers are able to convince. Your lack of knowledge requires you to trust someone. So Bernie, you really should shut-up about things you don’t know.

    The NSA has continually lied (or obfuscated if you will) to congress and the public for years. They say something isn’t happening, and then we find out it is–often under a different name. Maybe they need to do that to protect us, or maybe they need to do it because it is REALLY bad–we just don’t know.

    How did anyone stumble on Gen. Petraeus’ e-mails? A political ‘Snowden’ operative inside the NSA would be very valuable, and NOT easy to detect. Why is the NSA sharing information with the DEA? They say it is only for the biggest drug cartels, but how do we know? How long will it be before some deem that this information should be shared with local law enforcement?

    The problem from my vantage point is how LITTLE Bernie, or ANY TV commentator knows–including those Libertarians out there! He, and seriously no one, is in a position to make an assessment yet as to what we should or should not do about the NSA’s programs.

    As a network security analyst I have to keep up on this information, and what is NOT being reported is rather scary. Snowden’s dump (and it continues) of information is rather informative, but it has dramatically exposed just how vulnerable computers and networks are to the NSA–and now to anyone who is watching. Technical programs by the boatload are being exposed.

    Go here
    https://www.schneier.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?tag=exploit%20of%20the%20day

    to get an idea of what is being dumped.

    If you think the Target breech was bad… just wait until this knowledge is incorporated.

    There is no realistic way for the IT community to fix all of these problems (or even most of them). So, if you thought Snowden was a hero–think again. He is a mixed bag.

    I am a huge privacy advocate and am very uncomfortable with any government agency gathering so much information, but I too recognize the importance data provides for our security. The NSA needs to seriously consider JUST what it needs, rather than sweeping up everything.

    Finally, if you don’t like the NSA gathering your meta-data from e-mail and phone calls, but you use Facebook–shut-up! it’s just duplication.

  • kayakbob

    I must correct Mr. Henninger in one area: Liberals do see evil in one place – conservatives.

    Then again, being called ‘evil’ is one of the nicer things I’ve been called. So I guess I will take it.

  • gold7406

    the nsa and the administration are being politically correct in saying that it is listening in on millions of Americans. this is not true. they are specially targeting [profiling] groups that have in the past have a history, violence and mayhem.
    they have to say they are looking at everyone, but in reality only those that may pose a threat are being monitored.

  • ARJ127

    I think that Bernie’s wrong about this issue. Look at the total number of Americans killed by terrorists compared to the number killed by domestic violence, gun crimes, traffic accidents, drug overdoses and so on. Terrorism gets an awful lot of publicity in comparison to the number of lives lost in terrorist acts. Should we not instead sacrifice (in some people’s opinion) our rights under the Second Amendment in order to curb gun violence? By Bernie’s logic, the answer would be yes.

    I think the terrorists win when we blithely sacrifice our constitutional rights to chase them. As for Obama’s suggestion that all of the telephone records be kept by some private entity. Who would you suggest keep these records? Target, perhaps?

    Don’t get me wrong. I think that terrorists are criminals who should be hunted down and eliminated. I just don’t think that we should have to give up our freedoms to do so.

  • JoseHdez

    Count me as a conservative (by my perspective) who on this subject (really, most subjects) agrees with you 100%. I wonder how many criticizing NASA surveillance now, would be the first one to criticize NASA for lack of surveillance if their daughter, or any loved one, gets blown up in a terrorist attack?

  • Buzzeroo

    When walking in a notoriously dangerous area and noticing that you are being watched by a couple of cops in a patrol car might make you paranoid; but if you have any sense at all, you should be glad that they are there despite the fact that they will know that you are there and in what direction you are headed.

  • Drew Page

    Bernie — I guess it all boils down to an individual’s tolerance level. Some would give up all their rights to feel safer, some would give up none. I seem to get confused these days when it comes to government. The same government that wants to spy on all American citizens in order to protect us from terrorists, fights all attempts to tighten security of our southern border, wants to grant illegal aliens amnesty and prevent “profiling” of terrorist suspects based on their appearance or country of origin. They say that surveillance of our phone records, e-mails and other electronic communications is necessary to thwart terrorists. Call me picky, but I seem to recall that the NSA had access to the Tsarnaev brothers’ (the Boston Marathon bombers) phone records, e-mails and Facebook communications. The NSA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security even had warnings from the Russians that the two brothers were suspected terrorists. It seems the surveillance techniques of these agencies were about as effective at preventing their activities as the Obama Care website has been in getting people insured.
    Maybe we shouldn’t be paranoid when the government starts wanting to know more about us, our contacts, our communications, our affiliations, our finances, our political persuasions and our religious beliefs than our doctor wants to know about the inner workings of our intestinal tracts. I am sure they can come up with good reasons for wanting to know everything there is to know about us and it always seems to be for our own good, regardless of what we may think. But then again there is that nagging feeling that maybe the government isn’t being completely honest with us when they tell us why they feel they must spy on everyone. I know it’s paranoid to suspect the government of lying, seeing that it so rarely happens, but some of us just can’t help it.

    • kayakbob

      Hello Drew (and Bernie). In a way, your first sentence sums up the big picture debate nicely in the abstract: “….it all boils down to an individual’s tolerance level. Some would give
      up all their rights to feel safer, some would give up none”.

      In actual practice, who decides what MY personal safety tolerance is? The Federal Government, not me. True, I do have some ways to minimize my ability to BE monitored, such as never going online, not having a credit card or bank account, etc. Sure those things CAN be done, but not by people who want to actually live, work and play – not in this day and age.

      The practical thing Government – Ok, practical and Government don’t belong in the same sentence..granted – can do is look at whether or not any of the data mining has thwarted any terrorist or criminal activity to date. So far the answer appears to be – nope. And that is why I am suspicious of NSA data collection. Which, I guess puts me squarely with you Mr. Page.

    • Chuck

      As a federal government employee who sees the bureaucracy and incompetence up close every day, I must say your perspective is intelligent and thoughtful. I don’t oppose data collection in principle, but since the government often does such a poor job with it as you mentioned, perhaps it’s not worth doing due to the potential for abuse. If the NSA handles data the way healthcare.gov handles it, we’re not accomplishing anything anyway. Plus, even if something worthwhile is uncovered, our ultra leftist government is too prone to let it go.

  • Bob Olden

    I agree that people watch movies that make it look like the government can track you every second and they get paranoid, but here’s another way to look at it: the bad guys sometimes look at those movies, too, and maybe when they see that and put it together with the fact that the NSA collects so much data, it spooks them a little. Truth be told, the guy at NSA may be asleep at the switch, but the bad guys don’t know it. In the long run, I want the bad guys to think we can read their minds and kill them anywhere, any time. I also want the good guys to have all the tools they need to track them down and stop them.

  • brickman

    I don’t know the government is spying on me. I never call terrorists on the phone. The last time I made an international call on my home phone was never. I don’t have a cell phone and the GPS is turned off on my mobile device. They are only comparing my numbers called to a list of terrorist suspects by computer a human is not involved (you know the one with devious motives) . It is then stored somewhere which makes the warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark seem accessible.

    Bernie, you’re right that the paranoia is on the left and right fringes. I’m a moderate and not worried. However, I do have another explanation for this phenomenon. It’s the way people on the fringes make themselves important. The government doesn’t care what 99% of them think but if they think they’re being persecuted, they must be making a difference.

  • veeper

    bernie is willing to give up more and more freedom and privacy in the name of promised security….

    at what point does bernie draw the line…..or will he ever…..

  • Will Swoboda

    Hey Bernie, I agree with you on this point but what bothers me about news today is, that the generation before us believes, at least for the most part, that if they read it on a computer than it must be true. I guess you would call me a technophobe. I won’t open things sent to me on my computer unless there is a pretty good chance I know who sent it and even then I’m a little hesitant. What concerns me with computers is a story could be constructed on a computer about me that is completely false. Someone could read it and then say, “Wow, I didn’t know Will could do that”. I like to think about this business about the NSA like a sobriety check point. The sobriety check point is only out to catch people who may be DUI, so set them up, they don’t worry me because I don’t DUI although in the past I have. So if you’re not up to something like terrorism, I like to think you don’t have much to worry about. One of the reasons the special operators in our military are as successful as they are , is because they think like the bad guys. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. They don’t play fair and neither should we. I believe that way too much of our intelligence capabilities are made public. Until Bin Laden was eliminated, most people never heard of “Seal Team Six” and even Seal Team Six would have denied they existed. And that ‘s the way it should be. If it had been left up to me, I would have deposed of UBL’s body and sent hands to the UN.

    • legal eagle

      Thanks for sharing your paranoia…..

    • Charlie

      Will, you say, “the generation before us believes, at least for the most part, that if they read it on a computer than it must be true.”
      Just where did you get this information?

  • Ted Crawford

    I have no way of acurately determining what Mr. Snowdes motivations were so, from my perspective, the jury is still out! However I’ve been, increasingly, concerned since 9/11. Mr. Bush Hreoically declares” the people that did this will hear you!”, yet while this declaration still rings out, we pass The Patriot Act ?!?!
    Confused ideologies?
    Perhaps “The one permenant emotion of inferior man is Fear! Fear of the unknown, the complex, the inesplicable. What he wants most is Safety!’Most people want Security in this world, not Liberty!” H.L. Mencken?!?!

  • Ed I

    The column starts by suggesting that some believe Snowden a hero because he “exposed” what the NSA was doing. It asked the question should we have known that the NSA was collecting meta data. Yes! Is Snowden a hero; NO! Snowden should never have had his job in the first place. He didn’t violate some code of conduct for civil servants, he broke national security laws and for what. That should scare all of us whether or not NSA was collecting data on all of us or not. Top Secret clearance use to be very difficult to obtain; today we give the authority over to an incompetent and probably corrupt private contractor and hand out TS clearances as if they are drivers licenses. Who else did they approve for a TS, who is still sitting collecting methods and materials. As for knowing what the NSA was doing, if one bothered to stay involved in government and read the Patriot Act (or Stimulus Act or the Affordable Care Act) then you would not be surprised with what the NSA was doing. Was the Patriot Act a step to far? maybe, but whether you wish to believe it or not, we are still at war. We are at war with an extremely dangerous enemy. One that has chosen when the can avoid it to fight us toe to toe on the battle field. They have chosen to fight a long and protracted insurgent war. Just because we tend to think in months and years we should understand our enemy thinks in decades and centuries as time lines. The Muslim Brotherhood is a hundred years old. Its goals remain the same. Now with Obama and Kerry allowing the Iranians to obtain nuclear weapons the world just got to be a much more scary place. If you think I am being paranoid then you have neither bothered to look at the record nor what our enemies have clearly and unambiguously said they wish to do to us. Remember at the same time that we are allowing Iran to get the bomb, al Qaeda to retake Falluja and Ramadi, like Carter, Obama is not slowly dismantling our military.

  • retsam369

    Bernie, The problems I have with your argument are simple. First, we wouldn’t know if there have been any violations by the NSA. Rest assured that if there were any, they would be covered up quickly, by whatever means necessary. Second, I find people willing to give up their “Constitutional Rights” so quickly as very troublesome. If you are willing to give up your rights under the 4 th Amendment, which other rights are you willing to give up “for your protection?” These statements apply to both you and O’Reilly. Once we start down this path, I fear that this country is doomed. Why, because people that believe as you two do, are willing to justify “the nibbling” away of the great document know as The Constitution.” Once that item is gone, so is the US!

  • MudMiner

    It steams me so hard that I’m ready to blow a gasket! Bernie must live is an alternate universe where we the sheeple need a protector. A coordinated ONE time move by a group of hate filled Muslims destroyed a great society!
    If the average American male were still allowed to carry his leatherman or Swiss Army knife aboard any flight, any attempt to hijack would only result in an aircraft sewage holding tank full of Muslim scraps. That is the simple truth, yet my “protectors” the ruling elite, have destroyed a multitude of our freedoms in their knee jerk response.
    I now find myself guilty until proved innocent in a semi police state.
    What a tragic waste of a great and once strong nation. Jefferson knew how to respond to radical Muslims 200 freaking years ago! If one Muslim commits an atrocity, erase his bloodline and leave him wearing sunglasses and pushin himself around on a skateboard to inform his brethren of the consequences. I have a feeling that we would hear lots of crickets chirping from “over there.”

  • Patrick Q. McLaughlin

    You convinced me Bernie. Wonder if NSA could help Health.gov gather intel on clients.

  • TransplantedTexan

    So far, there has not been a single example of all of the NSA surveillance (in violation of the Constitution) exposing a single terrorist plot. Therefore, I submit that it is the excuses for this activity that are hypothetical rather than the actual threat to our privacy which is occurring on a daily basis. Seeing the actual examples of the Justice Department, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the IRS abusing their power to go after political enemies of the Administration causes me a great deal more concern that alarmist rhetoric about potential terrorist threats.

    • Drew Page

      Was it Homeland Security or the TSA that foiled the ‘shoe bomber’ or the ‘underwear bomber’? Was it the NSA or FBI that thwarted the Times Square would be bomber? How much intel did the Army have on their Muslim psychiatrist who massacred his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood?
      How many of the hundreds of millions of Americans that have had their phone records, e-mails and Facebook communications taken and stored for posterity, have proven to be terrorists? Before we start spying on every man, woman and child in this country, shouldn’t we be targeting specific people based on probable cause, as determined by a judge?

  • twiljr

    Government data mines our social media and electronic under the guise of keeping us safe, we allow them and become complacent next is our liberties and freedom.
    First step to tyranny and dictatorship.

    This is a Republic e live in not a democracy. We the People rule not the majority .

  • S.R. Neal

    Government will abuse its power. It always has & it always will. It is simply a question of degree. We citizens need assurance that sufficient accountability measures are in place to combat NSA abuse and punish abusers. It seems as though this is not the case today, and until revisions ensure that the fox is not keeping watch over the henhouse the public alarm is warranted.

    • Drew Page

      We wouldn’t have even been aware that the NSA was gathering the phone records, e-mails, etc of hundreds of millions of American citizens without probable cause or a warrant, if it weren’t for Snowden’s revelations. While I don’t believe that Snowden should have fled to China and Russia with his insider information, I can believe that he feared for his life after making his disclosures about NSA spying on Americans. Some, including president Obama, think that there are channels that Snowden could have gone through within the system to report what he felt were violations of the Constitution. For future reference, perhaps Mr. Obama could provide a list of such channels “within the system” for whistle blowers to approach. Going through the chain of command at the NSA would seem a bit risky, since the upper levels of that chain were responsible for the spying. Even when testifying before a House Investigating Committee, the head of the NSA was forced to admit that he gave the Committee the least dishonest answer he could when testifying. “The least dishonest answer”. I believe that had Snowden gone through “channels within the system” we would have never seen or heard from Mr. Snowden again.

      • S.R. Neal

        Right on the money Drew Page.

  • David A. Boyajian

    I totally agree with the concept and attempt for keeping us
    safe from terrorist bad guys. After all, these guys are trying to kill us.
    Bernie, your analogy of the police patrolling our streets and looking for
    suspicious characters is a good one. That analogy, in theory is accurate;
    however, when applied to the NSA doesn’t carry forward. You see, when the
    police spot suspicious activity and investigate further, they will apprehend the
    suspects if it is obvious that something is amiss. However, when the government
    has credible and repeated warning of threat and evidence to back it up, they do
    nothing ….but continue the massive data collection on all of its citizens. My
    example to cite for this is the Boston bombing. Need I say more?

  • R.L. MacDanold

    Bernie,
    My bet is that he’s a latter-day version of John Walker. Had really ought to be snuffed.

    • MudMiner

      McD if you are not part of the struggle against tyrants please step to the front of the line. I prefer your kind are first into the cattle cars and first into the showers. Respectfully.

  • Uncle Dave

    The NSA; The only part of the Government that listens…

  • floridahank

    Why should we trust any Govt. agency just in general? Just look at all the failures of various agencies involved “helping people” with their problems. Look at the housing debacle, the storm/hurricane assistance, the Obamacare nightmare, the IRS bias, the military budget waste, the misuse of politicians on worthless trips, there are thousands of examples of stupidity and corruption, but I’d like a specific number of Govt. projects that have truly used the $$$ and personal assistance to its fullest. No, I have no faith in any of our agencies until they prove me wrong and believe less than 10% of what they announce to us.

  • Dave

    You may be right – for now! My worry is the future. How can we trust that power and the possible abuse of it to all future leaders. We might actually get one even more far out that Obama. We were unwise to trust W with it, because we couldn’t see O coming.

    • Ted Crawford

      There was a time in America, when even Democrats understood this basic truth!
      “You [should] not examine Legislation in the light of the benifits it would convey if properly administered, but in light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered!” Lyndon Johnson

    • Drew Page

      So the government will have access to the phone records, e-mails and electronic communications of all citizens in computer files that are kept for as long as they like. One day, one of the citizens on whom such records are kept decides to run for national office as a candidate of the political party not currently in power. The party in power would have access to the private information of that individual. Perhaps among those records were phone calls to the number of a psychiatrist, or a substance abuse counseling service, or to a person who later became involved in a criminal activity. Not only would the phone number of the individual or office of the person being called, but the number of calls to that person. Perhaps the e-mail messages of that person revealed that the potential candidate (or a spouse, or child) had a mental or substance abuse problem or had a friend or relative who later had a problem with the law. Let’s say that somehow, that personal information was accessed by someone who was opposed to the potential candidate and made public. No one would know who did it, but the damage would be done. but that would never happen, right?

  • chopkoski

    Data, data, data…we are the Age of Information overload, a giant infomercial that runs on and on, never ending and ongoing. Soon, we will see re-runs of what we did or felt via our personal media replayed much as “I Love Lucy”. We will all be part and parcel of the Grand Parade. But just what will anyone do with all our mouthings, writings and any other signals we might have made that might offend one type of sensibility or another? That is the ultimate paranoia. But, most likely, as reams of old computer paper (with the holes on the edges) took everything to the grave with them, so will our New Data find itself on the trash heap, cause data takes maintenance and money to keep long time and like our bridges, it will fall down.

    • Drew Page

      Has spending money ever slowed down government? They can always print more.

      • chopkoski

        Sure thing. that is why we have a maint problemo in this country with bridges and other infrastructure.

        • Drew Page

          You might want to ask Obama where the hell he spent the $834 billion ‘Stimulus’. He SAID he was going to use it to repair the infrastructure. Remember all those “shovel ready” jobs? We have maintenance problems with our bridges, roads and tunnels because this administration pisses away the tax money on “investments” like Solyndra and websites that don’t work, built by friends of his wife.

  • Jarob54

    Don’t assume that everyone reading this article believes Edward Snowden is a hero. I don’t. I believe Mr Snowden has done great harm to this nation, and he acted in concert with others from foreign governments to perpetrate his crime. I also have first hand knowledge on how this nation gathers information to keep this nation safe from those who wish ill on all Americans. It’s like making sausage, best not to watch the process, just enjoy the finished product. Mr Snowden stole classified documents and shopped those documents to foreign governments. He had assistance, and he is gulity in my opinion of espionage, treason, and beigning a self absorbed punk. When anyone who has access to classified material, that individual knows the consequences if that individual compremises classified material. In the military eveyone is briefed on the UCMJ. , and yes Mr Snowder was briefed regarding classified materials. And anyone who has served in the miltary knows that Mr Snowden has commited very serious crimes.

    • floridahank

      How much knowledge would we have about the secrecy of various agencies reading/copying most of our communications without Snowden’s revelations? We’d still be in the dark about how intrusive information gathering agencies have taken so much without us knowing anything about it — we’d still be walking around thinking everything is fine with anything we write, say, record, on our internet, phones, etc. Which whistleblower would have ever shown us the truth about our secret govt?

      • Drew Page

        CIA operatives and other Americans returning to America after the Benghazi were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements about what they saw and what they did while they were there. I guess it’s for our protection that they were required to keep their mouths shut. A lot of American people want to know why the additional security requested by Ambassador Stevens was refused and by whom. A lot of Americans want to know where the order to stand down sending troops from Tripoli to Benghazi originated. Are the answers to these questions going to make us less safe?

    • MudMiner

      Thanks for contributing to this police state sausage!
      I prefer dangerous freedom to your “safe” protected captivity version.
      If a bear challenges me while gutting and dressing a moose, I will employ rule 7.62 in response. Same applies to Akbar wanting to subjugate my freedoms.

      • Jarob54

        We all have an opinion. My opinion is based on what I’ve seen, and what I know.

    • legal eagle

      Since when does the UCMJ apply to Snowden?

      • Jarob54

        Everyone is briefed on classified materials. In my case, while on active duty, the UCMJ applies. Contractors are briefed as well, under federal laws pertaining to such. Snowden would not be subject to UCMJ, as he is a civilian, and in my opinion would never be deemed fit to serve in the military. I hope this helps you.

        • legal eagle

          “I believe Mr Snowden has done great harm to this nation, and he acted in concert with others from foreign governments to perpetrate his crime.”
          Your belief that Snowden acted in concert with foreign governments is based upon what?

  • boats48

    Sorry Bernie, I don’t consider Snowden a hero by any means. He’s a traitor. His current country of residence only substantiates that. As far as the NSA and anything else the current administration has done in Washington, they’re wrong too!Obama and his cohorts have got to be the most lawless we’ve ever put into power. Hang Snowden, Impeach Obama, & dissolve the NSA!

    • MudMiner

      Jury of his peers. Hang yourself.

      • boats48

        Does the name Robt. Walker ring any bells with you? He & his son gave the Naval operating codes to the Soviets in 1965. I remember looking off the fantail of the ship I was on at the time and seeing the Russian “fishing trawler” following us. Little did I know at the time but they knew every word being transmitted out to ships around us. Please note the country involved.They are not our friends and Snowden is no hero!

  • trailbee

    Had the IRS debacle not just preceded the Snowden leaks, the reactions might have been quite different. I do remember when many of the new DHS procedures were created under President Bush, there was an outcry of the loss of our privacy. It was smothered fairly quickly, but then, we had just lost over 3000 people in 9/11.
    Since then, and within this new administration, too many things have happened that taken singly, would not have raised our ire. Taken as a whole, from F & F, Benghazi, AP/James Rosen, then NSA, and now the emerging overreach in Obamacare, the NSA/Snowden leaks/where shall we park this info question are looking mighty suspicious.
    I agree, I’d feel happier if terrorists remained elsewhere, but if this is the only way to keep them there, then so be it.
    My discomfort comes from knowing that all that information can be used as a “clearinghouse” for the next socialist-minded president, and once up and running, we are toast, private or not.

  • TerryinFla

    Bernie, you’re a smart buy but the issue is not protection versus hypothetical threat to privacy. It doesn’t take much of a logical leap to know that if the ATF and IRS can target people for political reasons, they are one tiny step from using this information in that process. If this were such a great idea, they’d have caught the Boston terrorists before they killed people.

  • RickonhisHarleyJohnson

    “People never give up their liberties, but under some delusion”
    – – Edmund Burke, Irish Statesman

  • Seattle Sam

    The very premise of those who adopted our Constitution was that concentrated governmental power would ultimately be abused absent the sorts of rigid constraints in the Bill of Rights.

    • allen goldberg

      But few realize the Constitution was designed to LIMIT government…today ‘G’ is filled with people who think they are the answer to every question. ‘G” is way beyond anything they should be allowed to do, including the NSA activities. Bernie as usual misses the target by about 2 miles. The agreement we made was how we were to be governed….and ‘G” has broken the agreement time and time again. Obama is the worst of all the offenders.

      • legal eagle

        “But few realize the Constitution was designed to LIMIT government”
        You base your statement upon what? Did the Constitution limit the right to own slaves? To restrict voting rights?

        • allen goldberg

          And when it was needed or to be corrected, amendments were implemented…try to read what you claim to think you know and do not try the same nonsense you always try “legal eagle”, which you are not.

          • legal eagle

            So, the “founding fathers” approved a Constitution that permitted slavery and limited the right to vote. It took approximately 100 years to “correct” the former and 150 years to “correct” the later but you continue to claim that the “founding fathers” had it all figured out?
            Tell me what statement you disagree with instead of calling me names?

          • allen goldberg

            I did not call you names. Your moniker is ‘legal eagle’…or are you another who had various monikers merely the trolling your are involved in? The founding fathers designed two documents that took years or work and discussion and had all the colonies agree to. They did not do it on their own. Changes have been done when it was needed. I never said that they had anything all figured out. These called amendments. If you are unhappy with the country and the basis of the union,…, perhaps you could reside elsewhere. Maybe you would find Kazakhstan more to your liking.

          • legal eagle

            Allen,
            The “moniker” refers to the fact that I am a lawyer, nothing more or nothing less… I have no other “monikers” nor am I sure what you’re referring to…
            Changes in the Constitution were done because the majority of the country demanded them. Slavery was not “necessary”, it was changed by a war, not necessity.

          • PolkaDot

            I certainly would not want you to represent me, even if it would be a traffic violation ticket.

          • legal eagle

            You couldn’t afford me…

          • PolkaDot

            Really? Caution; Lawyer that can write that “changes in the Constitution were done [sic]”, not made, might be a shyster

        • Jeff Webb

          I don’t believe for a minute that you’re unaware the Constitution’s purpose was/is to limit the govt’s power over the people.

        • PolkaDot

          Legal eagle, are you for real? Well, that was a rhetorical question. Now, go and look up the definition of the negative rights.

  • Kevin M. Sullivan

    While I don’t like “big government”, I’m not in a tizzy about what the NSA is doing in the nation. They’d never be able to hire enough people to listen to us. What they’re doing is scanning hundreds of millions of phone calls looking for specific words and phrases; they’re looking at area codes and country codes, and when something turns “hot”, that’s when they really start paying attention. Can there be abuse? Sure. But for those believing we’re actually being listened to by big daddy government, well, it’s just not happening in that very intrusive sense.

    • MudMiner

      Kevin , I sponsor some needy and worthy people in the third world. I won the birth lottery by being born in the 1%. In other words born American. The governing “elite” in my country are now regulating my ability to forward my hard earned money to people I care about under the false assumption that I might be sponsoring terrorism! Again I find myself assumed guilty until I prove my innocence.
      What you don’t see as a problem is in fact a potential giant problem for some citizens.

  • Mike

    Bernie, my concern is the information gathered by the NSA could be used to silence political enemies, journalist or activists – left and right. Although there is only circumstantial evidence, it appears Obama is more than willing to use the IRS to silence his enemies. The left will howl incessantly should a far right politician be elected to the Presidency who shares Obama’s amoral desire for power.

  • EddieD_Boston

    If you’re not doing anything wrong you don’t have anything to worry about. Unless the Obama Administration sees you as the enemy.

    • allen goldberg

      And the Administration sees anyone who does not agree with them as an enemy!!!!

      • legal eagle

        Thanks for your paranoia…now go back to your hiding place so the government can’t get you..

        • EddieD_Boston

          Were you trying to sound stupid? Personally, I’m for any surveillance needed to stop terrorists. Obama and Holder can’t be trusted. The imconvenient truth liberals are in denial about.

          • legal eagle

            Good to see your as paranoid as ever…..Obama and Holder can’t be trusted but Republicans can?

          • Jeff Webb

            >>Obama and Holder can’t be trusted but Republicans can?<<

            Actually, yes. Sorry, it ain't Republicans in the Executive Branch, and they didn't cause Obama and Holder to be untrustworthy.

          • legal eagle

            When Republicans were in the Executive Branch whom did you mistrust?

          • Jeff Webb

            >>When Republicans were in the Executive Branch whom did you mistrust?<<

            No, you've distracted enough. We're talking about BO and EH, who actually have control over the NSA now.

            The better question: since democrats ARE in the Executive Branch, whom do YOU mistrust?

          • legal eagle

            I thought you answered questions…Now you refuse because your only talking about who you’d like to talk about?
            I am cynical about everyone in government, business, the law and the medical field…However, unlike you and most five year olds, I consider the context of the misstatement….

          • Jeff Webb

            misstatement?

          • legal eagle

            So you’re only worried when the black guys re in charge? Does that include Duvall Patrick and Cory Booker?

          • EddieD_Boston

            Wow! Big jump to the race card dude. But you’re kidding, right? The president and his AG can’t be criticized b/c they’re African American? Amazing. Come up with an intelligent thought. Please.

          • legal eagle

            It wouldn’t be an issue if you named some white Republicans you distrust….

          • EddieD_Boston

            There aren’t any in the Obama Administration, which is what we’re talking about.

          • legal eagle

            That’s what you are talking about..You mistrust black Democrats but you can’t name any white Republicans you mistrust….and I’m playing the race card?

          • Jeff Webb

            What LE said 2 hours ago:
            >>So you’re only worried when the black guys re in charge?<>It wouldn’t be an issue if you named some white Republicans you distrust….<<

            So, first it's "black guys" and then "white Republicans."
            Clearly, you figure any black guy is a better pick than a white person of one's own party, so you'd pick Herman Cain over Hillary Clinton, right?

            It must be torture for you to live under your own logic. If for once you admit you defend untrustworthy democrats, you'd have far less issues.

          • PolkaDot

            And he just proved it once again, in the very next paragraph.

          • PolkaDot

            He is not trying to sound, he just is…

      • EddieD_Boston

        Yes, my point exactly. Funny how the Comgressionall Black Caucus razzed Bush during one of his SOTU addresses for mentioning the Patroit Act. Now those same clowns are defending Obama who is abusing it like Bush didn’t.

    • Uncle Dave

      I’m 51. Many of the friends I have are in their 30’s. I am consistently hearing, “If you’re not doing anything wrong … don’t worry about it”. This drive my nutz! Between the NSA peering in to every keyhole and younger folks GIVING UP their information to Google, Four-Square, Groupon, Facebook, Linked-in, etc… who needs “privacy” anymore? Everyone seems to be “giving it away”…

      • EddieD_Boston

        My students have been brainwashed and don’t have a clue. They all think alike too. Scary. They’ve been fed a consistent message b/w public school, Hollywood & the MSM.

        • MudMiner

          Right on Ed! Did you hear that asshat Chuckie Schumer today?
          He thinks we the people didn’t build this country without governments help.
          He forgot to add that the government has no resources to do anything without first coercing money from the people.

    • twiljr

      You may say your not doing anything but you don’t make the rules they do.

      • EddieD_Boston

        That’s kinda my point. Political foes beware.

    • Ted Crawford

      Exactly the point!
      If we give one man a hammer, he will soon build us a secure shelter.
      If we give a different man that same hammer, he begins a campaign of torture and murder! The “tool” we provided was the same, the outcomes were very, very different! The current administration has clearly displayed they are the latter “man” !

  • Josh

    I’m rather mellow on this particular Snowden issue. First and foremost, I detest government across the board about 90%. Though the whole Snowden being a hero thing is tricky. It’s like a car thief stopping to save an old lady from muggers. That act is worthy of accolades, but the dude’s still a car thief. You can’t forgive that.

    As to government in general, they can shuck it (in my best Sean Connery impression). Even here with our locals, the 2014 mandated housing appraisals are here, so that means a clipboard-wielding peon with snooty glasses gets to walk through your property and “assess” things. Wrong kind of grass? Pay a fine. Wrong kind of trashcan? Fine! Expired tags on a vehicle? Pluck you, pay me. Junk that you haven’t been able to take to the dump because of the weather? We accept checks and money orders. $400 or so for each infraction.

    That bugs me a hell of a lot more than the NSA truth be told, and I definitely view them both as “spying.” As a taxpaying citizen in the U.S. I can’t even keep a truck in my driveway that I’m working on or an old dryer in the backyard for parts without paying near $1,000 in fines. And I have a feeling it’s going to get to the point where I can’t even search for tig ol bitties via Google without some schmuck knocking on my front door wanting a payment due to exceeding the cup size limit.

    I can convince myself that catching the bad guys is more important than someone’s petty privacy issues. But it’s always on a loop in my head that privacy simply isn’t petty. People have a right to be left the hell alone. More importantly, the government does not–well, at least should not–have the right to intrude on people without probable cause. And that goes for the dweeb in my yard, the patrolman around the corner, and the overpaid bureaucrat in an office.

    When the war on terror is fought by putting the entire world under surveillance, then the war has failed. Chalk it up to an extension of the war on drugs or the war on poverty. America hasn’t made it this far due to wars. We kinda suck at them.

    How about getting better strategists to keep us safe rather than continuing to shrug off idiocy by convincing ourselves it’s okay as long as they get the bad guys?

    • Drew Page

      Think of all the problems that could be solved if we were only allowed out of our homes between the hours of 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Special permission could be applied for in the event a person’s work hours conflicted with this curfew. Anybody out on the street after curfew could be arrested. Think of all the crimes that would be prevented and how safe we would all be. If we eliminated private ownership of automobiles, we could increase public transportation facilities, save fuel, reduce “global warming”, become less dependent on foreign oil, eliminate car-jackings and best of all, eliminate auto accidents and deaths. Think how safe we would be.

  • Brad Ghorn

    It is kind of funny how so many people get real worried about the government collecting phone records but they are not nearly as concerned about the massive amount of info that collected about people by companies like Facebook and Google. People basically give info to Facebook and Google for free and think nothing of it: yet when the government collects any info no matter how insignificant that info is, lots of people get really angry.

    To me, Snowden is a traitor and the info the NSA is collecting to fight terrorism is not a threat.

    • Josh

      I can’t speak for everyone, but for me personally it’s a matter of opting out. I think of it like a spam email. I don’t like getting it, but the important question: Can I unsubscribe? When you can (Google, FB, etc), that’s one thing. When you can’t (government), that’s just creepy.

      • Drew Page

        Generally speaking, private citizens are not in a position to do me any harm from what information I may choose to put on Facebook, they don’t have the power. I can’t say that about government.

    • KStrett

      What is funny about Facebook and other social media sites is people give up their privacy and actually share it with everyone. A friend who uses facebook wrote they went out to dinner with person A,B, and C.

      If a government official visited their house and said we know where you went out to dinner last night and who you went to dinner with, most people who lose control of all bodily functions.

      However, today we share it willingly with everyone. All the government needs to do is look at your facebook account.

    • Drew Page

      It may be funny to you, but I’m not laughing. And I’m not putting any information about myself on Facebook.

  • scott autry

    I’m with Goldberg here. I’ll need more evidence of the government putting such methods to use in going after people before I take my eye off the reality of the threat global terrorism can pose to us.

    I’ll even add to that that I’ll get much more concerned if we discover the government is using info retrieved to gain an upper hand in multi-national trade negotiations. (Though I’m sure every government does some of that (illegal) intel gathering – when it comes as part of watching all of us, I get a little more conerned.)

    But, basically, I’ll have to see the slope becoming very slippery before turning the eye off the other threats that are here today and our immediate future.

    I’m also guided by knowledge that any future government that gains too much power and decides it wants even more can put a program like this (and worse) into effect in quick order, because the technology will be there.

    So, be watchful. If they start using the methods to lock up average people for drug dealing, Madoff-like white collar crime, or whatever, then it is starting to go too far…If data mining remains aimed at figuring out what terrorist groups are doing, I’m OK with it…

    • Brian Fr Langley

      As a famous quote says (sorry I forgot who) “Americans who used to roar like lions for liberty, now bleat like lambs for security”.

      • scott autry

        Can you show me where my and your Liberty has vanished considerably? The ACLU used to fight for the rights of vile orgs to speak their minds in public, no matter how repulsive, and that was a good thing.

        So, I’m satisfied some people are running around screaming the sky is falling, but I’ve got to see some debris before I run for cover.

        Who has gone to jail – losing real liberty? Are they really “listening in” on my phone calls? Who has been deprived of property or freedom?

        The fact is, the government has always taken extra measures when it comes to national security – sometimes crossing the line, for sure, but we have always recognized an extraordinary threat might need extraordinary means to defend the nation.

        When “defend the nation” being a

        • Brian Fr Langley

          Yes I can, a sixteen year old American citizen was killed by a drone without Habeas Corpus. If it can be done to one, it can be done to all. Just ask the victims of the last civilized people who waited to long to act.

          • scott autry

            “If it can be done to one, it can be done to all.” and there we go — proving my point to at least myself…Drones with hellfire missiles are circling all our heads — The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!

            A well-known individual involved in the world of terrorism that has been able to pull off individual attacks around the world going back to at least the 1990s is killed in Yemen, and you sitting on your couch in Alabama are in danger!!

            I think not…

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Neither were the communists, gays, gypsy’s, the mentally infirm or the Jews in the very early 1930’s. Yet by 1939 they all were. Not in danger? I think not.

          • scott autry

            Strike Two: And this is why are politics is broken, but our government isn’t…. Both sides like to run to the extremes – in rhetoric.

            I looked around for Obama’s past, since the media wouldn’t tell us anything, and I didn’t like what I saw, but that is one of the beauties of our democracy: Power is spread out. Every time a Clinton or Obama or Bush wins an election and gains control of both or one of the Houses, they feel like they’ve been given a mandate from heaven, and then the American voters smack their party down in the next mid-term election…

            So, not only can you not convince me Obama is remotely close to Hitler in pretty much any way – you sure as heck can’t look around at the rest of the society and tell me he’d be able to get away with gas chambers and industrial crematoriums .

            In fact, the fact you have to jump to Hitler or other extremes to justify the The Sky is Falling rhetoric makes this clearly more about chickenlitle than dark clouds visible on the horizon…

            And there is also another key point in my previous comments: If I thought the data mining operation was something that would take much time, effort, and money to set up in the future, I might be more inclined to say we shouldn’t build such a tool – just in case the society starts heading back to institutional racism or dictatorship some day.

            But, as far as I know, given today’s technology, and which is advancing every day, if some future American society has enough people willing to back a charismatic dictator, he would be able to set up this data mining without much trouble or time…

            So, again, unless you can show me some significant debris from the falling sky here and now, I’ll ignore six degrees of separation to Hitler standby argument/hyperbole…

            I went through 8 years of the left doing that to Bush Jr…

            I try not to practice what I preach against – even though I’m no fan of Obama and believe, if he did have a majority of the power in our government at his whim, we’d be in bigger trouble…

            I do have more faith in the framework of our government than any 1 man or party….

          • brickman

            Ditto.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Your problem is, you think I’m talking about your beloved Liberal President Obama. I’m not. I’m talking about the systematic devolution of Any American’s constitutional rights. I’m not concerned about President Obama or any other man or women now or 10+ years from now. But as liberty is allowed to decay, one day you’ll wake up (or your kids or Grandkids) to the knock of secret police arresting them (without Habeas Corpus, because even now apparently they can, a right by the way some 800+ years old). for crimes against the state, because they had the temerity to disagree with the political order of the day.

          • Jeff Webb

            This administration has a very poor record when it comes to respecting people’s rights, and a pretty solid record of dishonesty:
            -Gibson raid
            -Sharyl Atkisson
            -James Rosen
            -IRS targeting
            -“If you like your doctor…”
            -lied directly to Benghazi relatives on tarmac

            When the Patriot Act was enacted, for example, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. I accepted it given its limited scope, the matter of national security, and that President Bush was relatively ethical for a politician.

            What do we have now? An administration engorging itself with power, telling lies and half-truths with absolute comfort, and following the rules only when convenient secretly spying on us.

            Data-mining per se doesn’t curtail freedom; certain politicians who promise they’re respecting your rights do.

          • legal eagle

            “President Bush was relatively ethical for a politician”
            Now that’s some funny stuff….Let’s see, torture, warrantless wiretapping, Valerie Plame, WMD’s etc….

          • Jeff Webb

            >>Let’s see, torture<>warrantless wiretapping<>Valerie Plame<> WMD’s<<
            .
            He followed credible intel with ally support and bipartisan agreement. You're citing an example of him being ethical, actually.

            By liberal standards, your examples don't even rise to the level of "phony scandals."

          • legal eagle

            Perhaps your definition of “relatively ethical” and mine differ…..Relative to whom? Every Administration as well as every person I have ever done business with can be accused of unethical behavior…It’s like calling someone a liar……
            Also, can I assume that you don’t believe the practice of waterboarding constitutes torture? Can’t wait to hear this response….LOL

          • Jeff Webb

            >>Perhaps your definition of “relatively ethical” and mine differ…..Relative to whom?<<

            Non-politicians, generally, and other presidents, in part.

            Right or wrong, pols are held to a lower standard, and I'd argue standards for presidents are astonishingly and increasingly lower. Think about it: no sane person thinks it's ethical to commit adultery, sexual harrassment, and, especially when it's a U.S. president, perjury, but Bill Clinton is no pariah.

            I live near Randy "Duke" Cunningham's neighborhood, and know people he used to represent. Most of them still think very highly of him from top to bottom, even a couple said they'd vote for him again if given the chance. Frankly, they shouldn't be allowed near heavy machinery.

            On torture: your assumption is correct. We're talking about a carefully scrutinized and controlled procedure that we use in our own military training, leaving no permanent scarring or handicaps, that was performed on three sociopath terrorists.

          • legal eagle

            Jeff,
            The standards for politicians are no higher or lower than anyone else in the real world. Ethical standards are highly subjective…Perjury is committed every day of the week in every court in the country….As I live in San Diego I am very familiar with Duke Cunningham. Cunningham committed the illegal act and political sin of self enrichment, just like former Governor Bob McDonnell….
            If you believe that waterboarding was done on only three terrorists I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you…LOL

          • Jeff Webb

            >>Cunningham committed the illegal act and political sin of self enrichment, just like former Governor Bob McDonnell….<>The standards for politicians are no higher or lower than anyone else in the real world. Ethical standards are highly subjective..<<

            Your 2nd sentence is my point, and helps refute the first.

            It's like this: tell your poker buddies "I don't recommend inviting Jacobs–he's a known liar" and it'll carry some weight with them. Tell them "I don't recommend voting for Jacobs–he's a known liar" and you'll probably get back "uh, so? He's a politician."

            Having read a great number of your comments for as long as I have, I'm not surprised someone managed to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

          • legal eagle

            So you don’t deal with liars regardless of what they are lying about? I’m not sure what world you live in but it’s nothing I’ve ever experienced…
            I have to assume you don’t vote often if being a truth teller is a perquisite for your vote….Do you live in San Diego or Disneyland?

          • Jeff Webb

            >>So you don’t deal with liars regardless of what they are lying about? I’m not sure what world you live in but it’s nothing I’ve ever experienced…<>I have to assume you don’t vote often if being a truth teller is a perquisite for your vote….<<

            Close. Replace "often" with "for democrats." (Sorry-tried my best to resist.) Actually, you just touched on the whole point. It's no accident why there are jokes like "What is the worst thing about Election Day? All the politicians on the ballots."

            As much a pain in the buns you are, LE, it'd surprise me if you thought I don't see the difference between, say, lying so your wife won't know you're going out to buy her birthday gift, and lying so she won't know you're going out with your mistress.

          • legal eagle

            I have no idea what an ideologue like yourself believes…You seem to see most things as black and white….Democratic Presidents are liars and Republican Presidents are relatively ethical? You seem to live in some fantasy world…

          • Jeff Webb

            >>I have no idea what an ideologue like yourself believes…<>You seem to
            see most things as black and white<>Democratic Presidents are liars
            and Republican Presidents are relatively ethical?<<

            Your first 4 words make me think you forget prior comments just to be a pest–once again, ALL politicians lie. However, comparing the last two from each party, for example, democrats' lies are more blatant, provable, & consequential.

            Last 4 words: going by the last few administrations, no question whatsoever. I haven't done any in-depth comparison between the two parties dating back to President Lincoln, in all fairness.

          • legal eagle

            I’ve read what went on with the McDonnells. Perhaps you should also..

          • Jeff Webb

            I’m aware of the allegations.

          • legal eagle

            So taking cash, shopping sprees is what? An allegation? Did you read the background story as to why the McDonnells did this?

          • Jeff Webb

            >>So taking cash, shopping sprees is what? An allegation?<<

            In this context, yes. Be it accusation, indictment or allegation, however you slice it, ain't the same as "proven for the record." Have someone who has studied law explain it to you.

            Second answer to your question: much less outrageous than recent actions by the person you want to be the next president.

          • brickman

            Don’t go to Yemen and hang out with terrorists and you’ll have no problem.

          • legal eagle

            Same rant…different day…LOL

        • KStrett

          Scott,
          Would the founders of this country believe it was constitutional for the government to copy every piece of mail before it reached your mail box in case they want to get a search warrant to read your mail in the future?

          No, they would not. That is essentially what the government is doing here and it is unconstitutional.

          Moreover, why didn’t they prevent the Boston Bombing?

          Russia warned us about the dead brother. He was pinged because he traveled to an area that is a hot bed of terrorist training and they were going to a radical mosque. Despite all those warning singes, they were still able to get away with it.

          Did the FBI check out the mosque after the fact? No!

          Finally, they are purging the FBI of any reference to Islamic extremism. They wouldn’t even call the Fort Hood a terrorist attack.

          Why didn’t they stop the Fort Hood shooting?

          There were warning signs with Fort Hood as well. People ignored them because they were afraid of repercussions for against the ideology of political correctness and people were murdered.

          The government won’t identify and label who the terrorists are and who we are at war with but they can collect my e mail and phone records and and are possibly recording conversations?

          Do you see something wrong here?

          • Ted Crawford

            It seems our Founders were extremely clear as to what their reactions to this policy would be;
            “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor safety!” Ben Franklin
            “A People willing to trade their Freedom for temporary security, deserve neither and will lose both!” John Adams

        • Ted Crawford

          Consider this, they haven’t arrested anyone, at least anyone important enough to garner National Attention, because it would not serve their purpose. It might, in fact launch such an individule into a state of Martyrdom!
          A much more subtle and effective action might simply be to threaten them with some form of exposure! Perhaps a sign of this might be found if we were to study the recent, noticable left turn of John McCain. Agreed that Mr. McCain has long represented the more Liberal elements of the Republican Party, but man it seems to be on Steroids these past 18 months or so!
          Include the recent actions of Mr. Rove, who has, with his silly Whiteboard, acurately predicted the election outcomes, exactly ‘O’ times in the past decade, today amassing Tens of Millions of Dollars to discredit and defeat his fellow Republicans, not Progressives, but Republicans!
          If true, this is a very effective way to cover your actions while still deriving great benifits from your illegal actions! The best, as they say, of both worlds!

        • Drew Page

          I used to have the liberty of not buying health insurance, without being subject to a government fine. That liberty is now gone. I used to have the liberty of having my home powered by electricity generated by coal burning power plants. That liberty is no gone. I used to have the liberty of lighting my home with little round incandescent light bulbs. That liberty is now gone. I used to have the liberty of burning leaves in my back yard. That liberty is now gone.

    • Drew Page

      by the time you get the evidence you want, it will be too late to do anything about it. Do you wait until your house is burning before you think about buying fire insurance?

  • Brian Fr Langley

    They can know what we do, they can know where we go. They’re equating Christians (people who oppose abortion, gay marriage, and support gun rights) with hard right elements (you know Nazi’s) or Fundamentalists (You know, Islamic terrorists) and they’re now killing (by spy drones) U.S. citizens without Habeas Corpus. Sorry but terrorists pose the tiniest fraction of a threat to western civilization. A Government on the other hand, who believes much of their populace (Christians) are dangerous, scares me a hell of a lot more.

    • assegai

      I Agree! Osama ben Laden succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. Firstly he never dreamed that the Twin Towers would collapse, then he sat back and watched the USA tear it’s bill of rights apart in the name of stopping a few radicals from blowing up their underwear. The tens of thousands of people and billions of dollars spent on “Home Land Security” are a monument to Ben Laden and his small band of rag tag terrorists. Right now I believe Holder is a greater danger than Al-Quaeda!

      • Brian Fr Langley

        Holder never was one to “let a good crisis go to waste”.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    Well played Bernie, let the ba#*^rds (who we are know are listening in) think you’re on their side.