Thursday, May 18, 2006


The Moose ruminates more on surveillance.

The Moose has supported both the NSA intercept program that was revealed last year and the "data mining" program that reported on by USA Today last week. The Moose has also always made clear that there is a line to be drawn on the surveillance of communications. The sole purpose of the surveillance must be tracking down the Jihadists and related foes who wish to do us harm. The line is a clear and bold one. Any violation of that principle would make the surveillance illegitimate.

If it is ever conclusively proven that the Administration improperly obtained intelligence communications for anything other than direct national security purposes, the Bushies will not only have betrayed their duty to uphold the law- they will also have critically impaired our efforts to fight this war. A revelation that it violated the public's trust on surveillance would be devastating.

However, that has yet to occur despite the near hysteria over the latest revelation. It is perfectly legitimate to data mine to discover patterns in numbers to detect terrorists. It is far less intrusive into our privacy than is what gleaned from a CVS card. If a government seeks to abuse its power, there is far more damaging information on citizens at the IRS than is held by the NSA.

Our nation is engaged in an asymmetrical war. Our terrorist enemies can use relatively small amounts of cash and limited resources to exact extraordinary damage. That is why we must employ all of our technological and human advantages in this fight. However, we can only utilize this technology if the American people have reasonable trust that the authorities will not violate our liberties.

Again, there is a balance between liberty and security in any war. If there is any doubt that the balance has been upset, the President must act quickly and decisively to assure the American people that lines have not been crossed. It is a positive development that the Administration is widening their briefings of Members of Congress. Trust between the Executive and Legislative branches must be built and maintained.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Commander-in-Chief should have used all lawful means and methods necessary to defend this country. The Moose would like to believe that John Kerry would have continued these surveillance programs had he been elected President. If not, then the Moose voted for the wrong person.

Many Democrats act as if the only salient issue is liberty rather than security. The American people will want to know that Democrats will relentlessly and sometimes ruthlessly fight our enemies and protect their families. And they will want to know that a potential Democratic President will not be deterred in defending the country by excessive civil libertarian considerations. Will a Democratic President direct the NSA to close down its data mining effort?

Americans do not want oppressive or authoritarian over-reach. But voters will likely be looking for someone who will employ all human and technological resources to defeat the Jihadist foe and ensure that the homeland is safe.

Both the President and the Democratic opposition must balance their approach to surveillance. Unfortunately, in this polarized, partisan environment, reason is the first casualty.
-- Posted at 6:14 AM | Link to this post | Email this post