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Much Ado About Surveillance …

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I’m sure I’ll raise some ire by offering this humble opinion, but in response to the revelation that President Bush authorized secret surveillance after the 9/11 attacks

I’M THANKFUL!

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

At the time, our country was most definitely under attack and for all effective purposes at war.

In that type of instance, we should expect extraordinary efforts may have to be used to address our national security and safety.

The eavesdropping program grew out of concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks that the nation’s intelligence agencies were not poised to deal effectively with the new threat of Al Qaeda and that they were handcuffed by legal and bureaucratic restrictions better suited to peacetime than war, according to officials. In response, President Bush significantly eased limits on American intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the military.

Rapidly changing times, and threats, demand quick and decisive responses – anything less would have been deemed negligent by the administration.

As this post-mortum of the decision and actions relating to the 9/11 responses continues, it’s useful to note the uncertainty of the time and circumstances.

What’s more important to consider now, is how policy should be defined for the future.

In regards to determining how civil rights considerations should be factored into the equation, how much latitude do you feel should be allotted the President and respective government agencies?