Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
It seems a day doesn’t go by without at least one new revelation about the scope of the federal government’s monitoring of the communications of American citizens (and of perhaps many other people around the world).
One senses there still is an awful lot to come about how a nation like ours, built so successfully on the premise that government intrusion is properly the exception rather than the rule, is becoming something quite the opposite. In that regard, there was a fascinating opinion piece in last Sunday’s New York Times by Max Frankel – who served as the paper’s editorial page editor from 1977-1986 and executive editor from 1986-1994 – that stands out as a seminal contribution in putting this profound development into perspective.
The piece was titled “Where Did Our ‘Inalienable Rights’ Go?” and here are some key excerpts:
Now that we sense the magnitude of our government’s efforts to track Americans’ telephone and Internet transactions, the issue finally and fully before us is not how we balance personal privacy with police efficiency.
We have long since surrendered a record of our curiosities and fantasies to Google. We have broadcast our tastes and addictions for the convenience of one-button Amazon shopping. We have published our health and financial histories in exchange for better and faster hospital and bank services. We have bellowed our angers and frustrations for all to overhear while we walk the streets or ride a bus. Privacy is a currency that we all now routinely spend to purchase convenience.
But Google and Amazon do not indict, prosecute and jail the people they track and bug. The issue raised by the National Security Agency’s data vacuuming is how to protect our civil liberty against the anxious pursuit of civic security. Our rights must not be so casually bartered as our Facebook chatter. Remember “inalienable”?….
Many seem confident that the government is doing nothing more than relieving Verizon and AT&T and Facebook of their storage problems, so that government agents can, on occasion, sift through years of phone and Internet records if they need to find a contact with a suspicious foreigner. Many Americans accept assurances that specific conversations are only rarely exhumed and only if the oddly named Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allows it….
Even if true and satisfying, these assurances are now being publicized only because this huge data-gathering effort can no longer be denied. Whatever the motive for the leaks by Edward J. Snowden, they have stimulated a long-overdue public airing…. Until then, the very existence of the enterprise was “top secret” and publicly denied, even in Congressional hearings. Even now, the project remains secret in every important respect….
How many thousands have access to these storage bins? Who decides to open any individual file and who then gains access to its content? Is there ever a chance to challenge the necessity of opening a file? And what happens to gleaned information that has no bearing on terrorism?
Given the history of misused “secrets” in Washington, such questions are by no means paranoid. J. Edgar Hoover used F.B.I. investigations and files to smear the reputations of individuals – even to the point of intimidating presidents….
Information that is gathered and managed in secret is a potent weapon – and the temptation to use it in political combat or the pursuit of crimes far removed from terrorism can be irresistible.
President Obama and other defenders of the amassing of data insist that no individual conversation or transaction is ever examined without “court” approval, meaning a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But the court authorizes the scrutiny of more Americans than foreigners, and it is no court in the customary sense: it operates entirely in secret….
There’s not much we can add to that. America has overcome many obstacles. It broke the shackles of British colonialism. It survived a devastating civil war. It successfully met monumental modern military challenges. It emerged as the world’s exemplar of democracy, equality and respect for human rights, despite many pitfalls along the way. It is now called upon to get its arms around the inevitable social and political fallout from extraordinary achievements in science and technology, something that may prove to be more elusive than all the rest.
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Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t
There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.
Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.
Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves
The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.
Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.
Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.
Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians
Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists
In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site
Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”
The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps
Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.
In this particular case, the issue was whether the Arkansas prison system could prohibit, for security reasons, a devout Muslim’s maintaining a beard of a certain length as a matter of religious practice.
Despite the president’s respectable anti-terrorism record, he doubtless has little interest in being identified with anything that might suggest, however tangentially, criticism of Muslims or Islam.
One wonders what connection that rejection has with turning to the ICC, which would allow the Palestinians to bring war-crime charges against individual Israelis and is certainly one more step away from seeking a negotiated settlement.
In the NPR interview, Mr. Obama said Iran could become a “very successful regional power” if it agreed to a long-term nuclear deal.
Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.
Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-national-security-agency-imbroglio/2013/06/26/
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