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Sunday, December 18, 2005

National Security Agency's Eavesdropping Program

When Chris Wallace asked Senate minority leader Harry Reid for his response to the National Security Agency's monitoring of phone calls and e-mails of Americans, Reid began with a highly insightful comment:

First of all, Chris, you know, I don't like the terrorists. They're evil. We should do everything we can to eradicate them.

Wow! I'm glad Senator Reid does not like terrorists. I feel better now.

Actually, that was the beginning of Reid's attempt to avoid the question. He continued trying to avoid answering Wallace's questions.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you directly, because the president says the congressional leaders were briefed repeatedly over these four years. You've been the Senate minority leader for several years. Were you ever briefed on this?

REID: The president can't pass the buck on this one. This is his program. He's commander in chief. But commander in chief does not, I don't think, trump the Bill of Rights, and that's what this — Congress has not been involved in setting up this program. This is totally a program of the president and the vice president of the United States.

Has Reid answered the question? Didn't think so, but give Wallace some credit here. He asked again.

WALLACE: Well, I'm asking you, sir.

REID: Well, that's why I think we should have some committees look into this. I'm not going to speculate on a story in the New York Times, but Bob Graham, who everyone acknowledges is one of the finest members who's ever served in the Congress of the United States, says that he wasn't told about it when he was chairman, and...

Come on, Senator. Why won't you answer the question? Mr. Wallace asked once again.

WALLACE: But I want to ask you directly, Senator, because, you know, you're raising an issue about consultation. Were you ever briefed on it? Did you ever object?

REID: Listen, the program has been in effect. It's been in effect for four years, according to the New York Times. I was briefed a couple of months ago. The program had been in existence a long time prior to that time.

Finally, he answers. Senator Reid was briefed a couple of months ago. Of course, he's quick to point out that the program has existed much longer than that. But the question that needs to be asked is if this program was a violation of law as some are now claiming, why didn't Senator Reid say anything "a couple of months ago" when he found out about it?

Now, let's turn to another favorite person of mine: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It seems that Congresswoman Pelosi was also aware of the National Security Agency's program.

I was advised of President Bush's decision to provide authority to the National Security Agency to conduct unspecified activities shortly after he made it and have been provided with updates on several occasions.

Ms. Pelosi also failed to mention any concerns she might have had about the program. Perhaps she didn't have any concerns about it - until now. She now says the program "raises serious questions as to what the activities were and whether the activities were lawful.

So what has changed Ms. Pelosi? You didn't have concerns when you were first advised of the program or when you were "provided with updates on several occasions"? Why now?

Furthermore, this type of high-tech eavesdropping is not new. On February 27, 2000, several months before 9-11, CBS News' 60 Minutes ran a report on Echelon, a Clinton administration era NSA spying/eavesdropping program. I don't remember anyone getting too worked up about Echelon. And it seems to me that in the post 9-11 world, there is more reason than ever before for programs like this to exist.

Aren't I afraid that the government will listen in on my phone calls or read my e-mails? Nope. They have better things to do. And even if they did, they wouldn't find much. It's kind of like the student who sues his school district, claiming a violation of his privacy because he was randomly drug tested. The drug testing may help find someone who has a drug problem, so the program is valuable. If you don't have anything to hide, don't worry about it. Pee in the jar and shut up.

1 Comments:

Blogger Malott said...

I find it interesting that all this came to the surface on a day when our nation was celebrating the successful election in Iraq.

Timing is everything, right Harry?

11:23 AM  

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