Civil Liberties & Privacy

Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us

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You need not suspect the motives of those responsible for NSA surveillance to detest what they are doing. In fact, we may have more to fear from spies acting out of patriotic zeal than those acting out of power lust or economic interest: Zealots are more likely to eschew restraints that might compromise their righteous cause. For the sake of ... [click for more]

TGIF: It’s Not Edward Snowden Who Betrayed Us

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When you cut through the fog, the NSA controversy is about whether we should trust people with institutional power. Edward Snowden’s courageous exposure of massive secret surveillance separates those who say yes from those who say, “Hell no!” The trusting attitude can be found among progressives and conservatives alike (with notable exceptions), and even some who have identified themselves ... [click for more]

Obama Speaks with Forked Tongue on Surveillance

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It’s bad enough the federal government spies on us. Must it insult our intelligence too? The government’s response to Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency’s secret monitoring of the Internet and collection of our telephone logs is a mass of contradictions. Officials have said the disclosures are (1) old news, (2) grossly inaccurate, and (3) a blow to ... [click for more]

TGIF: Criminal Government

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“A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that ‘it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture’ and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.” So began a page-one story in the New York Times that should have ... [click for more]

Is the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Surveillance Really That Significant?

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In a remarkable achievement of legal sophistry, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a constitutional challenge to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. The 5–4 ruling this February upheld the federal law that authorizes the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on international telephone calls and emails in the so-called war on terror. The high court’s conservative bloc united to ... [click for more]

The Nobel Peace Laureate with a Kill List

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On February 5, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offered a rare defense of America’s drone policy. He stated, “These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise.” The rarity of his statement arises from the fact that the White House has stonewalled reporters on the drone program since its inception. The proximate cause of Carney’s ... [click for more]

The Democratic Way of Killing: The President as Judge, Jury, and Executioner

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One wonders whether Americans felt pride when they discovered that, according to the New York Times, their president was “a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.” As a result, Barack Oba-ma believes that “he should take moral responsibility” for U.S. policy, including killing anyone and everyone seen as a terrorist threat to the United States. ... [click for more]

An Oracle of Tyranny

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Charles Krauthammer’s defense in the Washington Post (Feb. 15, 2013) of President Obama’s limitless power to kill any living thing on the planet in the name of opposing terrorism may carry some charms as a catechism. But — to paraphrase an aspersion cast on the Charge of the Light Brigade — it is not law. Krauthammer rhetorically asks, ... [click for more]

Drone Trust the Government

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“Covert” drone warfare requires a level of confidence in politicians that they will never deserve. In the Kentucky Resolutions, the 1798 protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts, Thomas Jefferson wrote, It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of ... [click for more]
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