Jun 192013
 
 June 19, 2013  Surveillance, U.S.

David K. Shipler writes

… So how do we draw the line between what we want known and what we don’t, or whom we want to know it? Is there a difference between giving information to our bank and to the FBI? Between Verizon and the National Security Agency? And if so, what firewalls should be placed between them? What tests should government have to meet to obtain and use information that we find convenient to provide to third parties?

This is a key question that should be at the heart of the current debate over the NSA disclosure, for it will guide the way forward. The question has both pragmatic and constitutional components. It asks whether huge sweeps of data from innocent Americans actually prevent significant terrorism; the government’s assertion demands substantial proof, so far lacking. It asks whether the seasoned constitutional traditions of the country are being damaged—not just in the short term but in the longer range as well.

The debate is inadequate so far.

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