The Norman Transcript

Opinion

July 29, 2013

NSA program scores a narrow House victory

NORMAN — Supporters of government secrecy and the mass monitoring of citizens are breathing a sigh of relief.

That’s because an effort to defund the National Security Agency’s broad-based collection of telephone and Internet records failed by a narrow margin in the House Wednesday.

The Obama administration and many congressional leaders fought hard to protect the program, warning that its repeal would endanger the nation. Despite that, a sizable segment of lawmakers, from across the political spectrum, voted to withhold funds. The final vote was 217-205 to retain the program.

So the NSA will continue to collect data as part of a still-secret effort. The specific extent of this program is unclear. What is known follows leaks by former NSA private contractor Edward Snowden, who is now hiding out in Moscow’s airport to avoid arrest by the U.S. government.

We have previously expressed our concern about the scope of this program. And various assurances from the government since it was revealed have failed to resolve the matter.

To the contrary, conflicting statements, combined with sudden pledges to have an open debate related to the program, have made it clear that there are problems. And it doesn’t help that even though the Obama administration said members of Congress were informed about what the NSA was doing, many lawmakers obviously knew nothing about it.

As a result of this week’s vote, the NSA efforts — whatever they are — will go on. Congressional opponents of the NSA program say they will continue to fight it. And well they should. More than that, they and the American public need to demand the open discussion that has been promised.

We think more oversight is needed regarding NSA activities. Government bureaucracies tend to put their own interests first, and if gobbling up all sorts of unnecessary data is deemed desirable, the NSA will do it. The demands of a free society become secondary.

It is essential that NSA monitoring efforts be brought to heel now. The United States government is pumping ever-more money into its data collection efforts. Whatever it is gathering today may look to be quaint compared to what it will do tomorrow.

— The New Castle News, Pa.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • State is No. 2 in barbecue

    Americans love the marriage of smoke, fire and meat, but geography plays a part in how strong the passion is. Estately Blog has created a map charting which states are home to the most barbecue enthusiasts. Oklahoma comes in at No. 2 in ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Community Action mostly closed due to cutbacks

    Editor, The Transcript: The Community Action, at 1155 E Main St. in Norman, for decades has served Cleveland County with the following everyday services: a food pantry, short-term housing for the homeless, providing rides for those without ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Keep guns off campus

    Some Oklahoma lawmakers just won’t let the issue of allowing handguns on campus to go away. A joint legislative study will take a look at campuses around the nation to see if there is a way to accommodate faculty, staff and students who ...

    July 30, 2014

  • 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