The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

On Wire Tapping

The New York Times reported on Dec. 17, 2005 that the National Security Agency has been using the technology of “data mining” to spy on many Americans. While the President will not comment on the nature of this program he stated, “”I have re-authorized this program more than 30 times-I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.”

President Bush has always been a man of resolve; however, this program has taken his powers to the extreme.

The war in Iraq has blurred the lines of security and personal freedom and many Americans should expect their freedoms to be curtailed in some way. Under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, the federal agents of a secret court can, in dire circumstances, survey a suspect for 72 hours without a court order and receive it afterwards. The administration should not try to side step the vital process in place for surveillance. While it is legal for the U.S. government to, under probable cause, spy on their citizens, it is terrible for the United States to want to spy on their own citizens without a search warrant and it is hypocritical for us to even attempt to bring “democracy” to other countries with this program in place. However, we are at war with a very powerful and elusive enemy and Americans must be willing to sacrifice some individual rights for safety-as long as the feds do this legally.

Even though all of these topics should be evaluated by the American public, it is the nature of the President that is truly worrying. FISA was created for the very purpose of fulfilling the government’s need to watch over Americans while maintaining confidential investigations. What does the President or the administration think that they will get with these highly illegal data mining recordings? Who at the FBI, which mostly oversees investigations in the United States or the NSA, which before 9/11 oversaw international threats against the United States, will look over the legality of these recordings?

The government does have a right to, at times, curtail our rights as citizens. When we are at war we must expect our rights to be hindered for the greater good or safety of other Americans. On the other hand, where do we draw the line in creating a “safe” America? If the government is allowing organizations from within to do illegal actions, how can we expect the government to protect our rights? The anger coming from Democrats and the apathy coming from the Republicans are both tools in a political game to appease voters in their respective parties. Americans should be concerned when a President uses methods to spy on his citizens- especially when those methods are illegal.

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