The Norman Transcript

Opinion

June 18, 2013

Excuses for data sweep sound hollow

NORMAN — Perhaps 2013 will go down as the year privacy and civil liberties became too inconvenient for government.

Listening to assorted officials defend massive programs that scoop up vast amounts of data certainly gives that impression.

Anyone who believes we can now go back to an earlier era of privacy protection is delusional. This toothpaste is out of the tube.

That’s because there is no real outrage over revelations the National Security Agency has developed the means and authority to access virtually all telephone and computer data that’s out there. We’re told the intelligence agency handles all this power judiciously and prudently.

But then how do you explain Edward Snowden, a low-level employee for a private government contractor who knew all sorts of things and is now in trouble for spilling these national security beans?

If Snowden knows so much, who else does as well? What access do they have? What sort of ability do they have to abuse the power available to them?

All of this ought to be sparking loud demands for explanations. Instead, for the most part, we get mumbled claims of confusion from members of Congress. And among those who supposedly knew what the NSA was doing, we receive interesting rationalization and defense of what ought to be indefensible.

Take Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence committee. He said last week that revelations about NSA programs have caused terror suspects to alter their communications behavior.

That implies the programs have value — until you stop and think about it. Rogers is basically saying the intelligence community already knows who these people are by claiming they are changing how they operate.

If so, why the need to collect so much data on the rest of us?

Repeatedly we are told what’s being gathered does not impede our civil liberties and it’s just to make us safer. But we really don’t know if that’s true.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Improving children’s lives

    Social service organizations that have long-term debt for their headquarters and operating needs often spend much of their fundraising efforts meeting those obligations....

    July 29, 2014

  • Nutritional article should be accurate

    I read with interest the July 13 article “Are low-carb diets really healthy?” by Cassidie Day. Unfortunately, a number of statements in this article were incorrect. The first problematic statement was, “Carbs are an essential nutrient ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Hospital story headline was too sensationalized

    Editor, The Transcript: On July 18, The Transcript ran a front page article with the headline “Lawsuit filed against Norman Regional — Civil suit alleges improper billing practices by NRH and contracted physicians groups.” As a first page ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Help better than commentary

    For the last seven years, I have helped run Hands Helping Paws, an animal welfare and rescue group that fosters Norman’s abandoned animals and advocates for spay and neuter initiatives to reduce our community’s problems with stray and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Stick to the sports

    Editor, The Transcript: Why must we, especially us nice conservatives, be subjected to political commentary in a sports column? I hear/view Fox News routinely and find their coverage quite acceptable. I also hear/view CNN and MSNBC. I ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Corporation Commission should should evaluate quakes, fracturing

    Editor, The Transcript: Is your house at risk of being damaged in an earthquake because of fracking? Maybe. We’ve seen more earthquakes and tremors in Oklahoma seven months into 2014 than in the two previous years combined. At the same ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Norman can stop fracking before it escalates

    Editor, The Transcript: There are 163 fracked wells within Norman city limits. With growing attention to health and safety concerns, the city is considering changes to the existing oil and gas ordinance....

    July 27, 2014