NSA, Terror, & Privacy

So the NSA is using a database of telephone calls to search for patterns that might lead to the discovery of terrorist activity in the US.  Predictably, some people are complaining that the monitoring program is an invasion of privacy, and that our right to privacy must outweigh the government’s desire to protect our nation from future attacks.  To help our humble reader(s) understand the issues, we provide two links.

First, Marc Shulman of American Future offers his thoughts on the NSA program here. 

Second, The Guardian (UK) has several stories about the Subway Bombers and the intelligence failures of the British Government.  Reading this article, it’s reasonable to assume that, had the British been able to been able to implement something like the NSA program, perhaps the bombers might have been uncovered earlier.

The Guardian:

A telephone number of a third bomber, Germaine Lindsay, 19, was discovered in MI5’s files after the attacks, although the reason for its presence is not made clear by either report. Intelligence officials say the phone was recovered from Lindsay’s home after the attacks, but it was unclear whether other people may have used it.

In an important finding, the committee says MI5 could probably have identified Khan and Tanweer before the attacks if they had investigated the two men more fully. But, it adds – and this is a central theme of the committee’s report – priority was given to other terror suspects considered more dangerous. With the resources at their disposal, MI5 could not have followed Khan and Tanweer, who were regarded as "peripheral" figures and had not been identified until after the bombings.

As far back as 2003, MI5 had on its records a phone number registered to a "Siddeque Khan"and details of contacts between that number and an individual under investigation.

A review of surveillance data showed that Khan and Tanweer "had been among a group of men who had held meetings with others under security service investigation in 2004".

MI5 told the committee there was no evidence that these meetings had been connected with terrorist plans, the report says. But in 2004 two men identified after the bombings as being Khan and Tanweer had attended a number of meetings which were under surveillance by MI5 as part of an "important and substantial ongoing investigation".

The committee states: "The security service did not seek to investigate or identify them at the time although we have been told that it would probably have been possible to do so had the decision been taken.

The emphasis on the last sentence is mine.  Then read this excerpt from Slate.com:

Gonzales’ refusal to confront any of this did nothing to enhance the administration’s credibility. On the contrary, by stonewalling so adamantly he gave tyranny-fearing Americans something to be concerned about and increased the growing suspicion that the White House and the NSA are up to no good. "I can only believe … that this program is much bigger, and much broader, than you want anyone to know," Feinstein concluded. Given that so much of what we are learning from the press conflicts with the cant offered by the administration, it’s hard to argue with her. The whole spectacle raises this question: Why, exactly, should we trust these guys again

The entire article is found here. 

Again, we are rendered incapable of understanding the minds of the 9-10ers.

UPDATE:

The Blogosphere is, this morning, in full post mode on the subject.  For a nice recap, and further investigation, read The Big Lizard.

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