Jewish World Review Jan 23, 2014/ 23 Shevat, 5774
It could have been worse
By Paul Greenberg
The good thing about our president's talk at the
NSA's collection of phone calls made, and to and from whom they're made, and the duration of each, is immense. (They don't call it mega-data for nothing.) And it could prove vital when it comes to foiling the next attack on American soil. Or on American embassies or other American targets abroad -- whether in Benghazi or at sea or anywhere else. (Remember the USS Cole?)
And there's always another such plot in the works, whether it's caught in time (like some amateurish shoe bomber trying to blow up an airliner) or is aimed at the Boston Marathon, where a couple of terrorists managed to get through security -- and mayhem ensued.
This is the nature of our enemy and of the world, where evil never sleeps. As the country has discovered from time to all too frequent time in our history. As on
It's a familiar pattern, and
The president mainly just chewed around the edges of this issue the way termites will begin to slowly erode the timbers of a wooden foundation. He left the heavy lifting to his attorney general and
The president did suggest that this vast electronic storehouse of phone records be transferred elsewhere, but prudently didn't specify where. Maybe to the phone companies, which don't want them, or maybe to some new government bureaucracy so it can get in the way when some clear and present danger is spotted. But the president's was just a suggestion, thank goodness.
Happily, he didn't even come close to suggesting that the country rebuild the old wall between the FBI and CIA that kept them from cooperating as the 9/11 plot took ominous shape. Instead of proposing an obstacle like that, he only talked vaguely about inserting another layer of bureaucracy or two to slow the country's reaction time in case of an emergency. That's bad enough, but as long as the president's talk remains only talk, it is not a clear and present danger itself.
Thankfully, there are some members of
One of those leaders is
That's why the NSA monitors these calls even though it may need a court order to examine their actual contents, a step its critics tend not to mention when they talk about its "spying" on Americans or "eavesdropping" on your next phone call to your kid in college or cousin in
The most comforting thing in his talk about how to change the NSA is that it's mostly talk. So far. Let's keep it that way.
By putting another kink in this NSA program, another speed bump to slow down our terrorist-hunters, the president demonstrates how unaware he may be that time is of the essence when thwarting attacks against this country. If the NSA becomes aware of a developing terrorist plot, it doesn't need one more obstacle in its way.
In another era, the Pentagon's intelligence branch had discovered that a Japanese attack on a place called
And now our president -- and commander in chief! -- talks loosely about how to slow down our national security agency. As if he were nostalgic for the plodding pace of the 1940s. What next? Will he revive proper old
The bright side of all this is that
Nothing seems to improve
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