Jewish World Review Jan 27, 2014 / 26 Shevat, 5774
Has the NSA Gone Too Far?
By Bernard Goldberg
You may be right. And an independent board looking into what the NSA is doing has just agreed with you, saying collecting information about hundreds of millions of Americans is illegal and that the data should be "purged." President Obama chimed in by first defending what the NSA does and then saying some non-government agency should be in charge of collecting data designed to thwart terrorism. He then threw the matter over to Congress to decide just what that non-governmental entity should be.
And the U.S. Supreme Court someday may also agree with you. But right now, I don't.
Am I a big fan of the federal government tracking so many of our phone calls and emails? No. But am I more concerned about terrorism than some hypothetical threat to my privacy? Well, yes.
Dan Henninger has a column about all of this in the Wall Street Journal: "Watching too many Hollywood movies like 'Enemy of the State' isn't the healthiest way to think straight about U.S. security. The NSA has not been a rogue intel operation run out of someone's back pocket. The NSA surveillance program operates under a federal law debated in public and passed by Congress in 1978, then revised by a vote in 2001."
I understand that this won't satisfy many on both sides of the political line, conservatives and liberals who, to put it simply, don't trust government, big or otherwise. But many of these people and that includes many of you reading this dwell on what Henninger calls, "the right and left edges of U.S. politics" and for you the threat coming from terrorists comes in second to the threat of Big Brother taking over our lives.
I realize that most of you reading this play right field (some of you play deep right field), so let me throw a bone from Henninger's column, a piece of wisdom that targets the usual suspects on the left. "For liberals, disbelievers in evil, no threat is ever as bad as conservatives say it is, whether Churchill warning about Hitler in the 1930s, Reagan about the need for missile defenses, or U.S. street crime. When Rudolph Giuliani sought to bring New York's crime wave under control, the left called him Rudolph Mussolini, and they meant it."
But even though conservatives are usually more realistic than liberals about the nature of evil, and while the two sides agree on just about nothing, on this NSA matter, elements on the hard right and the hard left are ideological soul mates, proof that politics really do make strange bedfellows.
As I said at the top, those of you who believe the NSA has gone way too far and pose a threat to democracy may be right. Just because you're paranoid and I'm not saying you are, just that you give that impression at times doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
But we have police in cars patrolling our neighborhoods, looking us over, and if we appear suspicious to them! they might even stop us to ask a few questions. They have guns and badges and we don't. They hold all the cards. Still, I don't expect them to get a warrant first.
And between you and me, as long as they don't walk into my house and go through my stuff absent a warrant, I don't lose sleep over what they do to protect us from bad guys.
And right now, in the world in which we all currently reside, I worry about terrorist bad guys more than I worry about my government even the one where Eric Holder is attorney general. I have no doubt many of you will tell me why I am wrong.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Bernard Goldberg, the television news reporter and author of several bestselling books, among them, Bias, a New York Times number one bestseller about how the media distort the news. He is widely seen as one of the most original writers and thinkers in broadcast journalism. Mr. Goldberg covered stories all over the world for CBS News and has won 10 Emmy awards for excellence in journalism. He now reports for the widely acclaimed HBO broadcast Real Sports.
He is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey and a member of the school's Hall of Distinguished Alumni and proprietor of BernardGoldberg.com.
© 2013, Bernard Goldberg