START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

How Much Liberty Must We Trade for Security?


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, americans, bushadministration, cheney, constitution, cover-up, dishonesty, elections, ethics, freedoms, Govtfearmongering, national security, obama, politics, propaganda, republicans )

Kit
- 414 days ago - livescience.com
It wasn't all that long ago that the U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, testified before Congress that the U.S. National Security Agency wasn't "wittingly" spying on millions of Americans.



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

Comments

Kit B. (276)
Thursday July 11, 2013, 7:02 pm
Photo Credit: live science


It wasn't all that long ago that the U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, testified before Congress that the U.S. National Security Agency wasn't "wittingly" spying on millions of Americans.

Shortly after The Guardian and The Washington Post broke stories about NSA's technology capabilities, based on classified documents and slides provided to them by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Clapper said "no, sir" in his answer to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), when asked the question: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

Clapper later sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 21, 2013, clarifying his answer and stating that he'd misunderstood the question he'd been asked, the Post reported about the previously undisclosed correspondence. "I have thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time," Clapper wrote. "My response was clearly erroneous — for which I apologize."

Nearly all of this has now been forgotten. Thanks to Snowden's relentless pursuit of both a hideout and fame, that has become the focus as opposed to whether America's national security apparatus and modern technology is being used to keep track of Americans. NSA is almost assuredly breathing a sigh of relief at this turn of events.

What has been quite lost in the new Snowden drama and long-distance courtship with Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Venezuela's Nicolαs Maduro is what was apparent in the slides and documents Snowden released. Simply because the technology is capable of doing so — and because the safeguards in place to keep it from doing so are limited or even nonexistent — the NSA's filtering technology does spy on Americans. It may be inadvertent, it may just be data collection, and it may be mostly benign — but it's still spying.

Clapper was technically correct that nothing has been put in place to specifically or deliberately spy on and target individual Americans. But news stories from the Guardian about both the PRISM operation at NSA as well as the TEMPORA program that British intelligence agency GCHQ was using to tap into fiber optic cables, phone calls, internet traffic, Facebook posts and emails — and which it was sharing in real time so that dozens of NSA analysts could sift through the massive data streams — paints a clear picture.

In short, Americans' private activities via mobile and internet sites were pulled into the massive needle-in-the-haystack sorting machine that highly sophisticated computer software technology now makes possible. It's legal. It's designed to identify security concerns. It's been successful in stopping potential threats. But Americans are being spied on in the interest of national security, nevertheless.

The real question at this point is NSA's intention. What does it intend to do with vast streams of private information on Americans that it filters each day? There's no easy way around the logic of what's emerged in the past few weeks: the technology exists to filter out specific information on Americans on U.S. soil, it's permissible by law, and it's being done.

The good news is that Snowden's leaks to both the Post and the Guardian on PRISM and TEMPORA have sparked a much-needed debate about the pervasive nature of technology and its relationship to our basic rights — specifically, our privacy.

What has emerged — painfully, chaotically and in the same sort of data torrent that NSA and other intelligence agencies regularly filter on a daily basis — is a truer picture of how security agencies do, in fact, sweep up massive amounts of information about Americans in order to identify security threats.

"What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls and the NSA cannot target your e-mails," President Obama said in his June 17 interview on PBS's "Charlie Rose Show."

While this is certainly true, it also begs the much larger question at hand — while it may not be legal or acceptable to target U.S. citizens, it's become obvious that NSA has a great deal of latitude to collect, sort and filter the contents of emails, calls and web-based communications that are being swept up as part of the security agency's court- and congressionally-approved monitoring of a target overseas.

More technology won't necessarily save us, but a real national conversation about a philosophy of restraint and the trade-offs between security and liberty just might. Technological advances will continue to roll out, but we are now at a crossroads — as a nation, we need to decide just how much liberty we're willing to trade for security.

In 1940, Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator condemned a growing threat in the world. Parts of Chaplin's stirring speech are especially relevant today, an era when technology can sift through big data for personal identifiers. "Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want," Chaplin said. "More than machinery we need humanity."

Just because we have the technological ability to sort through everyone's social interactions to find useful information for potential advertisers (which appears to be Facebook's business model) or comb through emails, phone calls and internet traffic (the NSA data-sweep model) doesn't mean that we should do so. Something can be both possible and legal — and still not be right.
****

By: Jeff Nesbit | Live Science |

This article first appeared as Spying on Americans in the column At the Edge by Jeff Nesbit on U.S. News & World Report. His most recent Op-Ed was Ice-Melt Below, Not Calving Icebergs, Shrinking Antarctica. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.
 

JL A. (275)
Thursday July 11, 2013, 7:17 pm
I'm with Chaplin and having done data mining for other purposes than these, know what a high error rate most formulas built have where design is skewed to not miss real cases and thus slews of wrongly included are the result.
 

Brian M. (145)
Thursday July 11, 2013, 7:25 pm
We are trading away our liberty and we are told that we are trading it for security...but is that really the case? Maybe we're just trading our liberty away to secure the power of those who rule. What a nation of complacent slaves we have become.
 

Kit B. (276)
Thursday July 11, 2013, 8:20 pm

Oh yeah, Brian, you have it. This data mining serves no good purpose me thinks, J L.
 

pam w. (191)
Friday July 12, 2013, 9:53 am
"More technology won't necessarily save us, but a real national conversation about a philosophy of restraint and the trade-offs between security and liberty just might. Technological advances will continue to roll out, but we are now at a crossroads — as a nation, we need to decide just how much liberty we're willing to trade for security."

++++++++++++++++ When and how will this decision be made? Which politicians have the HUEVOS to initiate it?
 

Kit B. (276)
Friday July 12, 2013, 10:04 am

Mental masturbation, Pam. We can discuss this among ourselves, no one in DC is listening or cares.
 

Terrie Williams (769)
Friday July 12, 2013, 10:51 am
Our government does what we think only other governments do.....every single day. What are they doing....or are going to do with it.....does Nazi Germany come to anyone's mind.....or is it.....just me?

Dawg....I wish I was in Finland right NOW.
 

Val R. (239)
Friday July 12, 2013, 11:01 am
I for one say we trade NONE of freedoms for security - we can have both - this country was founded on our Constitution and it has been stripped from us all in the name of "security".
 

Angelika R. (146)
Friday July 12, 2013, 1:00 pm
What will you have left once you give up your liberties? And Boston showed the world what this mega spying machine is worth...
 

Yvonne White (231)
Friday July 12, 2013, 1:36 pm
HOW are we "more secure"? In the great "outback" of southern Illinois we were Never at risk to begin with - unless you count home-grown Terrorists like Monsanto, crappy infrastructure, crappy job prospects, crappy use of public money (Illinois is broke, except when paying Politicians)..so we REALLY hate losing liberties that we're mostly too poor to exercise to begin with!
 

Arielle S. (317)
Friday July 12, 2013, 4:35 pm
Can't add much to these really great comments except to add my total disgust. I admit to being skeptical of Snowden at first...now I wish I had a country of my own so I could give him asylum. What have we become?
 

Past Member (0)
Friday July 12, 2013, 5:17 pm
"Just because we have the technological ability to sort through everyone's social interactions to find useful information for potential advertisers (which appears to be Facebook's business model) or comb through emails, phone calls and internet traffic (the NSA data-sweep model) doesn't mean that we should do so. Something can be both possible and legal — and still not be right."

AMEN!

Thanks Kit
 

Jason R. (60)
Friday July 12, 2013, 6:39 pm
Democrats are held hostage by republicans that DARE them to get soft and see what their media will do to them. They use fear but I can't find one person that HAS fear!

This is such a nazi fascist take over. :(
 

Jason R. (60)
Friday July 12, 2013, 6:43 pm
It's deeper than they say. Not JUST meta data...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6m1XbWOfVk
 

TomCat S. (286)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 1:01 am
Every time we lose liberty over security, the terrorists win.
 

J S. (7)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 2:35 am
http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2013/02/losing-your-privacy-one-step-at-time.html
 

Patricia H. (468)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 6:36 am
interesting
 

Joanne Dixon (38)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 6:47 am
TC, I suspect you and i have both been saying that since 2001, but, as Kit says, no one's listening. Except us.
 

jan b. (3)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 6:52 am
We must give up as much liberty as necessary for the times we are in. I don't think anyone wants to give up their credit-cards, banking, cars, passports, cable, jobs and all of that and more which means giving up privacy. Is our national security any less worthy ?
 

jan b. (3)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 6:55 am
In reality, the moment Snowden spoke about Top Secret information, especially to a reporter, he violated the National Secrets Act, his acceptance and signature of acceptance for his Top Secret Clearance and the Non-Disclosure Agreement that all employees of | Booz Allen HamiltonBAH are required to sign.
The first two are traitorous offenses and the third is a strong indicator of a lack of integrity by lying to his employer, signing an agreement he violated.
Nope there is NO justification for Snowden's act, he will forever be known as a traitor to the United States. I HOPE he never comes back to the USA so we have to spend money on this creep for a trial. Let him be without a country he betrayed.......he stole MY secrets too and sold them to MY enemy is the way I look at it.
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 7:17 am

When the government became the whore of business and transferred National Secrets to private concerns, they surrendered all rights of expectation for secrecy. Edward Snowden is nothing more than a warning sign in rain storm that says 'the bridge is out go back' continue at your own risk. Shot the messenger and the message is still there. The US government betrayed us, we the citizens and continues to do so.
 

Debbie W. (115)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 10:48 am
A VERY good question! We are "walking" a thin fine line between security and tyranny!
 

Yvonne White (231)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 1:03 pm
I agree with Kit 100%! The government cannot have it both ways - out-sourcing secrets to private parties nullifies the "secret" part!
 

S J. (116)
Saturday July 13, 2013, 3:50 pm
"Security" often turns a decent one to be someone terrible. The Roman says 'if you want peace, cultivate justice', perhaps we don't have to spy anyone if we seriously build a good society. I m with my great friend--Chaplin, we need humanity.
Thanks Kit.
 

Lois Jordan (55)
Monday July 15, 2013, 5:40 pm
Noted. Well, it seems many countries are in an uproar over the widespread surveillance. It isn't just those of us here in the US. A strong point has been made regarding Barrett Brown, who put a link to the "stolen" Stratfor files at some website for all to share. He's being prosecuted, and could land in jail for years. The info obtained from those Stratfor files indicates that corporations are "running the show"....but Brown is demonized by the press, rather than focus on the info in those files, which is incriminating for many 1%-ers.
 
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story


Loading Noted By...Please Wait

 


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in US Politics & Gov't

Kit B.

Kit B.
Kit's contributions:
Stories noted recently: 74
Stories submitted: 3517
Front Page stories: 3420




 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.