The Sky is Falling Again

Let me ask you a question: are you making phone calls that you would be ashamed of if the government knew about them? Think about the phone calls you make every day and ask yourself if you really believe someone in the National Security Agency would be able to use those calls against you.

First of all, let's be clear; they are not listening in on the calls; they are merely collecting data that tells them that calls were made from one number to another. The data will be fed into highly sophisticated computers, and used to establish patterns of communication from suspected terrorist groups to and from their allies and operatives in the US. Prominent media which have deliberately confused this activity with listening in on phone conversations should be ashamed and held to account.

Those who are trying to clobber the president with this latest episode of 'Fear Factor,' are the same people who would stop at nothing to get the Democrats back in power. The shame of it is that they don't mind risking another 9/11 to do it.

USA Today broke the recycled story with another example of liberal scare tactics designed to discredit Bush:

'The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.
 
Although, undoubtedly intended to cause national alarm, for the overwhelming majority of sensible Americans that should be the biggest 'So what?' response of all time. We know we're being targeted by the most brutal, psychopathic killers on earth; do we really want to handcuff the NSA in its pursuit of those monsters?

As Newt Gingrich said on Meet the Press last Sunday

'Everything that has been done is totally legal. You just look at the specifics of what they're doing, it is totally legal. The real problem is the Bush administration refuses to come up front and explain it in advance. If you go to the American people and say, 'We're in a long war with the irreconcilable wing of Islam, there are people who want to kill millions of us, your government has to have an ability to track these people down, in the electronic age.' I bet this country's 90 percent in favor of that, as long as there are protections against you, as an innocent person, having a U.S. attorney use that information for any purpose other than national security.' 

What the former Speaker of the House is saying should go without saying. We have the ability to thwart the attempts by homicidal fanatics to detonate nuclear or biological devices in crowded cities around the country. Should we abandon the ability to defend ourselves because of some irrational fear that the government wants to listen in on our chat with Aunt Tillie in East Cupcake, Nebraska?

Besides, commercial data—mining outfits already sift through data far more personal than this. There is nothing unusual about obtaining these records, and they don't require a warrant.

It is beyond shameful that so many are making so much of so little. This amount of concern for privacy might have been appropriate 30 or 40 years ago, before we became as vulnerable to attack as we are today. 

But, in the current climate of global terrorism and the inability to secure our borders, to further cripple our defense agencies with alarmist propaganda is more than irresponsible, it is completely out of touch with the dangers of the modern world. The choice is simple: either we allow ourselves to be defended with all means available, or we risk the lives of millions of our fellow citizens. The latter is precisely what's being done by segments of the media when they set their sights on cultivating fear, rather than on providing facts.

The current cover of Newsweek, which displays a phone receiver cradled on the roof of the White House is an example of how to sell magazines with no regard for the safety of those who read them. We don't want to wake up one day and find that New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago have suffered nuclear attacks that could have been prevented if we had let the NSA do its job.

Mr. Gingrich is correct when he says the president needs to tell the American people why the data is needed and that it is not invasive of their privacy. Such assurance by Mr. Bush is not because most people don't already get it, but because so many Bush—haters are still trolling for votes among the gullible. They might be able to fool some of the people all of the time, but they can't fool Aunt Tillie.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob

Let me ask you a question: are you making phone calls that you would be ashamed of if the government knew about them? Think about the phone calls you make every day and ask yourself if you really believe someone in the National Security Agency would be able to use those calls against you.

First of all, let's be clear; they are not listening in on the calls; they are merely collecting data that tells them that calls were made from one number to another. The data will be fed into highly sophisticated computers, and used to establish patterns of communication from suspected terrorist groups to and from their allies and operatives in the US. Prominent media which have deliberately confused this activity with listening in on phone conversations should be ashamed and held to account.

Those who are trying to clobber the president with this latest episode of 'Fear Factor,' are the same people who would stop at nothing to get the Democrats back in power. The shame of it is that they don't mind risking another 9/11 to do it.

USA Today broke the recycled story with another example of liberal scare tactics designed to discredit Bush:

'The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.
 
Although, undoubtedly intended to cause national alarm, for the overwhelming majority of sensible Americans that should be the biggest 'So what?' response of all time. We know we're being targeted by the most brutal, psychopathic killers on earth; do we really want to handcuff the NSA in its pursuit of those monsters?

As Newt Gingrich said on Meet the Press last Sunday

'Everything that has been done is totally legal. You just look at the specifics of what they're doing, it is totally legal. The real problem is the Bush administration refuses to come up front and explain it in advance. If you go to the American people and say, 'We're in a long war with the irreconcilable wing of Islam, there are people who want to kill millions of us, your government has to have an ability to track these people down, in the electronic age.' I bet this country's 90 percent in favor of that, as long as there are protections against you, as an innocent person, having a U.S. attorney use that information for any purpose other than national security.' 

What the former Speaker of the House is saying should go without saying. We have the ability to thwart the attempts by homicidal fanatics to detonate nuclear or biological devices in crowded cities around the country. Should we abandon the ability to defend ourselves because of some irrational fear that the government wants to listen in on our chat with Aunt Tillie in East Cupcake, Nebraska?

Besides, commercial data—mining outfits already sift through data far more personal than this. There is nothing unusual about obtaining these records, and they don't require a warrant.

It is beyond shameful that so many are making so much of so little. This amount of concern for privacy might have been appropriate 30 or 40 years ago, before we became as vulnerable to attack as we are today. 

But, in the current climate of global terrorism and the inability to secure our borders, to further cripple our defense agencies with alarmist propaganda is more than irresponsible, it is completely out of touch with the dangers of the modern world. The choice is simple: either we allow ourselves to be defended with all means available, or we risk the lives of millions of our fellow citizens. The latter is precisely what's being done by segments of the media when they set their sights on cultivating fear, rather than on providing facts.

The current cover of Newsweek, which displays a phone receiver cradled on the roof of the White House is an example of how to sell magazines with no regard for the safety of those who read them. We don't want to wake up one day and find that New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago have suffered nuclear attacks that could have been prevented if we had let the NSA do its job.

Mr. Gingrich is correct when he says the president needs to tell the American people why the data is needed and that it is not invasive of their privacy. Such assurance by Mr. Bush is not because most people don't already get it, but because so many Bush—haters are still trolling for votes among the gullible. They might be able to fool some of the people all of the time, but they can't fool Aunt Tillie.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob