Let’s consider that a bit like like “enhanced interrogation” is said to be ineffective- Data gathering of information unrelated to any investigation can be a drag on important resources, and may well work against the security we seek. We may be wrong to assume the NSA metadata program is actually helping at all. Perhaps it is a misguided effort to remove that important link, that link between actual investigations and people or data of interest.
A Vote for Privacy is a Vote for Security
By Matthew Harwood, Media Strategist, ACLU at 11:23am
It couldn’t be more black or white than this: “Spy on me, I’d rather be safe.”
That was the proposition before two teams of debaters at the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate held Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. Defending the proposition were two former homeland security officials Richard Falkenrath and Stewart Baker. Opposing the motion were the ACLU’s very own Senior Policy Counsel Michael German and Georgetown Law Professor David Cole.
As German, a former undercover FBI agent, made clear, the idea that a balance must be struck between liberty and security is a false choice. The procedural safeguards—such as reasonable suspicion and probable cause—that govern how government agents do their jobs doesn’t only protect our liberties and privacy, it makes them better investigators who better protect the public from violent threats.
German knows this better than anyone—it was a life he once led:
In my undercover work against neo-Nazis and anti-government militias, there were a lot of people saying things I didn’t like. But I knew I had to have a reasonable basis to assume somebody was engaging in violent activity or illegal activity. Otherwise, if I couldn’t find that, I could turn my attention to somebody else. Because, again, there are real threats and this standard helped me focus my investigations properly so those cases successfully prevented terrorist attacks, ended in successful prosecutions, and didn’t violate anyone’s rights.
This is why we shouldn’t be surprised that the government can point to only one terrorism case that was even arguably prevented in part by the government’s program that gobbles up the records of nearly every domestic call made inside the United States. And that’s even in dispute. Three senators who sit on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently told a federal court in California that the government’s claims that the mass call-tracking program played a “but-for” role in preventing this plot was a “misleading exaggeration that has distorted the public record.”