The Norman Transcript

Opinion

June 18, 2013

Excuses for data sweep sound hollow

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Last week, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, told Congress the American people need to know how these programs operate in terms of collecting data.

That’s nonsense, because Alexander heads up the agency that was in charge of keeping all of this quiet. The American people are informed — or at least partially informed — only when concealing the truth is no longer an option.

These programs are essential, we are further assured, because information gleaned has successfully thwarted attacks. At first, we were told one attack was prevented; now it’s dozens.

It sounds impressive, assuming it’s true and assuming there were no more effective means of protecting the nation.

Significantly, some former NSA employees have emerged to say they quit the agency because they objected to the indiscriminate collection of data and lack of respect for civil liberties. Perhaps they are simply disgruntled ex-workers, but at some point, the evidence mounts.

And let’s not forget the NSA is in the process of building a massive new facility that supposedly will be able to examine even greater amounts of data. Abuse is inevitable amid this much power and so little supervision and oversight.

Of course, all of this is done in the name of thwarting terrorists. Lost in this rationalization is the fact the goal of terrorism isn’t violence. Rather, it’s the application of violence in order to alter who we are.

By giving so much unquestioned power to the NSA, the argument could be made that America has given the terrorists what they want.

Mitchel Olszak is a columnist for the New Castle (Pa.) News.

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