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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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February 11, 2014 - 7:59 am

Anti-surveillance groups are flooding Congress with calls and emails today in support of legislative efforts that would rein in the powers of the NSA.

The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance is backed by tech businesses such as Tumblr and Mozilla plus Reddit, the ACLU, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

“The protest is both in his honor and in celebration of the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act two years ago this month, which he helped spur,” organizers said of Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide on Jan. 11, 2013, under  Justice Department prosecution.

“Today the greatest threat to a free Internet, and broader free society, is the National Security Agency’s mass spying regime. If Aaron were alive he’d be on the front lines, fighting back against these practices that undermine our ability to engage with each other as genuinely free human beings,” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, which he co-founded with Swartz.

Anonymous said as of 10 a.m. 9,471 calls had been made and 30,317 emails sent.

The protesters are backing the USA Freedom Act, a bill from original Patriot Act author Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) meant to “rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.”

“We understand that the United States was founded upon a Constitution that protects our critical rights and is governed by the rule of law,” the Libertarian Party said in a statement. “Yet, for years, the NSA has exploited secret legal interpretations to undermine our privacy rights — thus chilling speech and activism, and thereby threatening to subvert the very underpinnings of our society itself.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
"We haven't been hit since 9/11....."

The people at the Boston Marathon, and at Fort Hood probably have a different view on that. Moreover, the Times Square car bomb was NOT detected by the NSA, it was spotted by an alert passer-by.

Besides that, because there haven't been many terrorist attacks doesn't mean the reason is universal surveillance by the NSA
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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We just need to be careful here.
The problem is that this surveillance actually does work in fighting terrorism. I live near DC, and a friend of a friend developed some of the data mining software used. On 9/11, he was actually on his way to deliver a proposal to a government agency, and had over 2/3rds of the hijackers identified in his proposal.

We haven't been hit since 9/11, and you'll never hear it reported - you never hear when national security efforts actually work, only when they fail - but surveillance programs like this are largely responsible. The problem, of course, is when the government starts using them improperly.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We haven't been hit since 9/11....."

The people at the Boston Marathon, and at Fort Hood probably have a different view on that. Moreover, the Times Square car bomb was NOT detected by the NSA, it was spotted by an alert passer-by.

Besides that, because there haven't been many terrorist attacks doesn't mean the reason is universal surveillance by the NSA
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
It works? Not according to the NSA. They admit to the metadata not being effecitve.

http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/17/would-you-believe-zero-terrorist-attacks


While its true we haven't been hit since 9/11 by a major attack, there have been numerous smaller attacks that invariably get swept under the carpet. Major Hasan ring any bells? Or the Boston Bombers? Both jihadist and both with numerous warning signs on the front end that were either completely missed or ignored by the three-letter agencies.

No, we need reform. Starting with secret courts viewing secret evidence and giving out secret orders/warrants that can't be challenged. That is not Constitutional, and saying "terrorist" doesn't change that.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you're advocating putting terrorists into civilian courts, that's actually a very bad idea especially with how activist the judicial courts are right now.

And the NSA was created specifically to locate and stop Communists, and intelligence agencies need to be kept precisely because their our one line in preventing enemy attacks in this day and age. Maybe if planes and bombers were never created at all, maybe if only sailing ships were available, we'd probably not have to worry about whether the enemy would attack us at any moment. Heck, maybe if computers weren't invented, we wouldn't worry about having intelligence agencies. But guess what, they exist, meaning we're literally vulnerable to attack anywhere.

Do I like the NSA's abuses, or any other governmental abuses? No, but that doesn't mean I'm going to advocate anarchy, especially when that results in massacres and also worsening the rot in the country as it is.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nice strawman. No one here is advocating anarchy. We are advocating the LAW. What the NSA is doing is unconstitutional. Adding "its to fight terrorists" is not enough. You would decry "its for the children" if they wanted to take your AR-15 away with that excuse. Why are you OK with them taking away your Constistutional rights just by adding "terrorists"?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
First of all, Harald, I'm NOT okay with what's currently going on, and I certainly wouldn't support the breach in the second amendment that our government is doing with Gun Control. Actually, I didn't even mention anything about gun control at all, and despite my not wanting to break the 10 commandments, I'm willing to own a gun if its absolutely necessary.

And yes, what the NSA is doing to civilians, ordinary, innocent civilians is inexcusable, there's no arguing that. And I even made that clear. But that doesn't mean we should get rid of the NSA or other intelligence agencies. Don't forget, thanks to the Cold War and Communism spreading and mucking things up, we need intel to determine our enemy's next move, foreign or domestic. What I'm being is realistic. We no longer live in the kind of world the Founding Fathers lived in. At least they don't have to worry about computers, computer viruses, airplanes, aerial bombings, choppers, and all of those kinds of things that can and have been proven both vital to us and a threat to us. If the enemy was to attack, they'd have to do weeks, if not months on the oceans to get from Europe to America/Africa to America, at which point America would be fully prepared. There's no way we can just go back to what the Founding Fathers lived through with that. Suppose we do get rid of the NSA, the CIA, the DIA, pretty much all intelligence agencies, try to live the Founding Father's will to the fullest extent by getting rid of any and all intelligence agencies and governmental institutions, what do you think will happen? We'd be blind as a bat, many of our enemies, both communists and islamists will only see it as a "shoot me" sign planted on the American Continent's back, and they WILL attack us.

I support reform in the NSA and other government institutions, but I will not support getting rid of them, because that makes things even worse than before. Even Ben Franklin decried the French Revolution and the freedom it brought about via its anarchy. I also object to your implication that we need to get rid of secret evidence and giving out secret orders/warrants, because the only other option that would result in is having terrorists tried in civilian courts. In case you've forgotten, the Obama administration is doing just that, having terrorists tried in civilian courts, and the outrage is already made apparent.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't trust this administration, or pretty much any other one, but *especially* this band of Chicago thugs, to 'do the right thing', and not turn this into a tool used on civilians for intimidation, harassment and retaliation. That's why this kind of thing isn't allowed, and any dancing around by congress, the exec or the courts is a dangerous expansion of the government at our expense.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"gang up"? Or "band together"? One is rather hostile, the other not. Which is it, Bridget?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Finally, some of Obama's base is getting nervous.
50 weeks ago
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