Tuesday, July 02, 2013

NSA Surreptitious activity: At what cost?

We know that the NSA is gathering an incredible amount of email and phone data. We know that the NSA's attempts - so far - to explain how that data has staunched terrorism have rung hollow. We know that other countries will now shy away from using the parts of the Internet that the USA controls to avoid NSA spying. We know that other countries will shy away from using products, hardware made in the USA to avoid NSA backdoors. We know that a few of the crown jewels of United States software, like Microsoft and Google, will be increasingly avoided by other countries to avoid NSA collection of their data.

These are costs to the US. Painful costs, like the loss of attorney/client privilege, which the NSA apparently does not respect. (See the section of this webpage by the EFF, titled "Attorney-Client Privilege Means Nothing".)

But what about the co$t? It is hard to imagine what it would take to be able to record every phone call for years and years, and every email, and lord knows what else the NSA is vacuuming off the internet. Our taxes are paying for these incredible costs. These have certainly been taxation without representation.

Are these costs justified by unsupported claims that the results dampen terrorism?

We deserve a lot more openness about the NSA's programs, so that we can make informed decisions.

Our government has a right to be furious about many of the documents that Mr. Snowden made public. Admissions about some of our spying activities against other countries, and names of operatives and specific operations, can only hurt us Americans. But it appears that most of the NSA operation was kept secret simply to enable it to contravene US law and to avoid thoughtful analysis. We, the people, have a right to decide when - if ever - it is proper for the NSA to break laws, regulations and constitutional amendments.

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