Your call: Should the NSA look at phone records?
The National Security Agency's headquarters are in Fort Meade, Maryland.
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(CNN) -- The National Security Agency has been collecting information on millions of domestic phone calls, according to a report this week in USA Today. CNN.com asked readers whether they think it is appropriate for the government to monitor telephone records. Here is a selection of the responses, some of which have been edited:
I am glad the government is doing things to protect us. If just following phone numbers is all it is, then I think it is a great thing. I think the real travesty is the hyperventalation of the left in the country combined with the leaking going on. I feel it all undermines our country's ability to help keep us safe as a nation, and as long as there are individuals willing to thwart it, we should have prosecutors willing to stop them.
I cannot believe that any American could possibly defend the administration's illegal actions. For all of you that responded that "it's OK to collect phone records because it will help national security" -- you do not deserve to live in this country. You have no concept of what the Constitution stands for -- nor do you have any appreciation for the liberties you enjoy. Shame on all of you!
I would ask the family of a 9/11 victim if they could give up a little phone number privacy in exchange for their loved one, would they? Were we not quick to blame this same government for NOT keeping tabs on people?
So now the government can see all the people who have called Planned Parenthood in any given area. They can also see every woman who has called a women's clinic that provides abortion services. The can see every person who ever called the ACLU, or the EFF, or any other privacy organization. Granted, they don't know what was said in that conversation. However, given the obvious agenda of our current administration, the very calls themselves would be enough to get some of us on a "list" of people to watch for possible subversive activities. Please note that these are all phone calls that are perfectly legal to make. The end result will be guilt by association, one of the things that our Constitution was supposed to expressly protect us from. There are those who say, "If you've done nothing wrong, what do you have to fear?" To those people I would ask, why do you send your mail in envelopes? Why not just write it on post cards for everyone to see? Surely you're not sending anything illegal or subversive in your mail, right? So what do you have to worry about?
Yes, I think that phone records can and should be reviewed. Conversations are not being monitored; anonymous calls are being scrutinized for patterns. ... What is the privacy issue involved in that? None that I can see, and if it aids in our security issues, what is the problem?
This is fortunately a non-issue for South Africans, as to do so in our country is illegal. When our policy-makers drafted our new constitution and bill of rights, it was heavily influenced by the US. Sadly, your current leaders have no respect for the sanctity of the US Bill of Rights.
People who think the phone call tracking is "creepy" or "scary" are apparently already living in fear. I could not care less. I do not fear my dealings with people, places, or things becoming public. I have worked in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the People's Republic of China. Those people live in fear most of the time.
You cannot assume that just because people work in "intelligence" that they are less prone to mistakes and biases than everyone else. If the government could not see the big picture before 9/11, when it conceivably had enough intelligence to thwart the attacks, what makes us think that our phone records are going to lead them to any valuable conclusions? Intelligence agencies such as the NSA and CIA have proven to be lumbering bureaucracies that are unable to respond nimbly to disparate threads of information. The prospect of these already bumbling agencies being controlled by an executive branch that is unparalleled in its desire for power is troubling enough. A vulnerable America does not need its civil liberties slowly chipped away as well.
The people who are outraged are the same people who will be up in arms the next time terrorists hit an American target. While I do not care to know that the NSA may be spying on my phone conversations, if you truly have nothing to hide, what is the point? Do you think the NSA will want to spend its resources finding out how your date went last night? It is ludicrous to believe that the government does not have the obligation to protect us. This is the cost of living in a world that seems to despise Americans. We as Americans have to be more open-minded, because if/when it happens again, these people who complain shouldn't say, "Why didn't the government do something to protect us?"
If I had to choose between a 1 in 10,000 chance that I or someone I love might be killed by a terrorist in any given year or living in a police state, I'd take the former. The goal of terrorism is to make us live in fear and to destroy our way of life. If we become a nation of secret laws, pervasive surveillance, and midnight justice (Guantanamo and secret prisons, anybody?), then the terrorists have "won," even if there is never another attack on US soil.
I believe it is the old saying that applies to this: "If you have nothing to hide, what is the problem?" I am a Democrat, but you will rarely find me any[where] but middle on the spectrum. If the NSA wants to collect data about calling patterns, without monitoring them, that is fine. And if they find that there is a particular household or geographic area that is placing calls to known terrorists or less than peaceful or stable countries, they should be able to monitor those calls, with the proper authority giving them that permission. I think this is a compromise to this intelligence impasse that will please both sides. Whether I like Bush or not (Which I DO NOT, he is the silliest man I have ever seen) we are at war, and it is nice to see that we are doing something to protect ourselves on the home front, rather than only sending troops to foreign sand pits on primitive lands.
[Should the government monitor phone records?] Absolutely not. They should have to uphold the Constitution. Who is Bush to be above the law? He and the NSA should get a court order. There is no privacy with him in office. Shame on the Congress and Senate.
Large amount of resources to track and analyze a huge volume of calls, with a tiny minority of them used by terrorists. Besides privacy, resource usage, and agreed-upon patterns to be used issues, since this information is public, all terrorists have to do is use public phone boxes and telephone cards to ensure anonymity and bypass the database searches.
I am not sure where to direct my outrage. Should it be at the NSA, the Bush Administration and my soon-to-be ex-phone company for spying on me without a warrant? Should it be Congress for claiming it might be legal and doing nothing to pass laws that would make it illegal? Or should it be my fellow Americans which, some polls say, don't care if they are spied upon?
More and more our intelligence services are taking on the characteristics of the former KGB. It is exceedingly difficult to understand what my calls to Home Depot, Spiegel, Macy's, and my doctor could possibly do to enhance our national security. Next it will be necessary to monitor our credit card purchases. Billions are being spent on new database technology -- for what? It's time we woke up and let our government know that they have to do more than play the terrorism card whenever they want to erode our way of life. No, the government should not monitor domestic telephone call records -- not unless they have a specific target, approved by our judicial branch.
Unless your phone call is to a suspicious person, I wouldn't worry about being eavesdropped on. And if it a suspicious call at first, it is likely they will stop listening after awhile because I doubt the government cares to hear about your cousin's gastric bypass surgery.
As well-intentioned as the the call records database and eavesdropping programs may be, they're taking us down a very dark path. It's these types of gradual encroachments that will inevitably smother the freedoms that are so fundamental to the American way of life. "Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government." -- Jeremy Bentham, jurist and philosopher (1748-1832)
NO!!! I do not think the government should monitor domestic telephone call records!!! This country has always held dear the tradition that our personal lives should be free of governmental intrusion absent probable cause to intrude. If we step back and take a look, our right to privacy has been pirated away bit by bit over the last several years under the guise of 9/11. Our government must find ways to conduct our intelligence without using it as an excuse to intrude in to the private lives of its citizens. Personally, I believe that if we knew the full story, we would find that much more than "benign" compiling of phone numbers is and has been going on. Do I trust the Bush administration? NO!!! Do I trust my government in general? NOT ANY MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!
From my understanding, what's being archived is basically "who called who" and not the contents of the conversation (e.g., tapping of the phone lines). Putting such archiving in the context of the post 9/11 U.S.A., it seems logical to do such a thing. However, I doubt that's the real cause for all the ruckus. What's really going on here is anti-Bush citizens and those naive souls unwilling/unable to critically approach these activities jumping on a bandwagon of popular rhetoric. Grow up, people.
Would you believe a thief who robs you and tells you it's for your own good???
Everybody has the right to have a secret even if it is as a stupid as a cooking recipe.
I highly value my privacy; however, to protect the security and safety of the people of the U.S. and their interests, it does not at all bother me that NSA monitors my phone records. This is, I believe, a legitimate invasion of my privacy. I think it is a travesty that this information has been leaked to the press. The fact that NSA is doing this does not need to be public knowledge.
The issue is not whether or not the government should monitor domestic telephone call records. The issue is whether or not the Executive branch should be able to do this without oversight. One of the major elements of the Constitution is the system of checks and balances. To say the Executive branch can do whatever it deems necessary, in secrecy and without oversight by the other two branches of government, seems a mockery of not only the words, but also the spirit of the Constitution. The Framers were well aware of consequences of an unchecked and unquestioned executive (another George, in fact, King George III). We, apparently, have forgotten.
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