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Thu Jul 25, 2013, 04:19 PM

"Leaders Of The 9/11 Commission Say NSA Surveillance Has Gone Too Far!" (Tom Kean/Lee Hamilton) [View all]

President Barack Obama has rightly called for a national discussion, which his administration and Congress should convene. It is unfortunate that this conversation begins only when an unauthorized leaker divulges secrets he has agreed, under penalty of law, to keep. But the issues are now before the public. It is time to trust the American peopleís judgment about where to strike the balance between what is, after all, their security and their freedom


from the wow dept

One of the key talking points from defenders of the NSA surveillance program is that they had to implement it after the 9/11 Commission revealed "holes" in information gathering that resulted in 9/11. This is a misstatement of what that report actually indicated -- in that it showed that more than enough data had actually been collected, it's just that the intelligence community didn't do anything with it. Either way, it seems that the leadership of the 9/11 Commission -- Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, who were the chair and vice chair of the committee respectively -- have now spoken out against the NSA surveillance efforts. And they don't hold back:

The NSA's metadata program was put into place with virtually no public debate, a worrisome precedent made worse by erecting unnecessary barriers to public understanding via denials and misleading statements from senior administration officials.
When the Congress and the courts work in secret; when massive amounts of data are collected from Americans and enterprises; when government's power of intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens, augmented by the awesome power of advanced technologies, is hugely expanded without public debate or discussion over seven years, then our sense of constitutional process and accountability is deeply offended.

Officials insist that the right balance has been struck between security and privacy. But how would we know, when all the decisions have been made in secret, with almost no oversight?



The article goes on in great detail about the problems and calls for a truly public debate. As they note:

We are stronger as a nation when we understand what the government is doing. This does not mean sharing sensitive intelligence with the public. A public debate poses challenges when it involves classified information that dribbles out, obfuscated by misinformation. But there is certainly far more we can discuss openly.

Indeed.

http://www.techdirt.com/

---------------------

It's time to debate NSA program

Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton Opinion/Politico

The administration says the program is tightly controlled, but unilateral executive branch action and assurances are not sufficient; we need constitutional checks and balances. The extremely low rate of denial of warrant requests and the fact that in the hearings only the governmentís side is presented are troubling. The public would benefit from a better, more detailed understanding of the judiciary process.

The Congress, the courts and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which the 9/11 Commission recommended, each have critically important roles to play. This board is essential to balancing the impact of the governmentís security measures in the aftermath of Sept. 11 with our civil liberties. It has taken a decade to get the board up and running. Now that the Senate has confirmed a chairman, it is time for the board to get to work in a transparent manner on this surveillance program.


We are stronger as a nation when we understand what the government is doing. This does not mean sharing sensitive intelligence with the public. A public debate poses challenges when it involves classified information that dribbles out, obfuscated by misinformation. But there is certainly far more we can discuss openly.

President Barack Obama has rightly called for a national discussion, which his administration and Congress should convene. It is unfortunate that this conversation begins only when an unauthorized leaker divulges secrets he has agreed, under penalty of law, to keep. But the issues are now before the public. It is time to trust the American peopleís judgment about where to strike the balance between what is, after all, their security and their freedom.

Thomas Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, co-chair the Bipartisan Policy Centerís Homeland Security Project. Kean was chairman and Hamilton was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/its-time-to-debate-nsa-programs-94634.html#ixzz2ZyShhpOo

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