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US has no plans to end broad surveillance program; leaders call leaker a 'traitor'

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  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    June 11, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    This has a familiar feel to it. Remember the government's reaction to the Pentagon Papers?

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    June 11, 2013 12:01 p.m.

    The biggest complainers of this program should consider that it exists only and solely to keep another 9/11 or Boston marathon bombing type tragedy from happening again. There are no other agendas or purposes. These same detractors would also be the first to complain if, after getting this national security program shut down, we ended up soon having another 9/11 type of tragedy.

    People need to learn and accept that there are usually trade-offs in life. If you want a higher level of internal national security, a certain amount of personal privacy is usually the cost to be paid. Seldom is the best of all worlds available to us when so much is on the line. And such is the case now.

    I also agree that the leaker, Snowden, is a pathetic national traitor for leaking classified top secret government information and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law when found. An enormous price is currently being paid for his notorious actions... more so than the general public seems to be aware of.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2013 12:26 p.m.

    @Tators
    "These same detractors would also be the first to complain if, after getting this national security program shut down, we ended up soon having another 9/11 type of tragedy."

    I opposed the Patriot Act when it was first proposed right after 9/11 so I already know what my reaction would be after that kind of thing.

    "People need to learn and accept that there are usually trade-offs in life. "

    I will decide where my personal line for tradeoffs resides.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    June 11, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    @tators

    I usually disagree with almost every opinion you offer.

    I agree with everything you said in your comment.

  • Legalize_the_Constitution SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    June 11, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    This seems like a bad dream and I'm pinching myself desperately trying to wake up. I feel like we have turned into the Soviet Union over night, with the loss of privacy and freedom and the ever growing evil empire central government that can and will take advantage of its power to control, coerce and attack its internal enemies which are you and I as citizens.

    We are told to trust that the government is only using this information for worthy purposes like preventing terrorism, but then we have examples before us where groups are discriminated against (IRS scandal).

    To complicate my nightmare, I see poll results showing that the majority of Americans are ok with the government spying on them, and I read comments to these articles where people post about how it’s ok and those of us opposed are conspiracy theorists with radical view points.

    What has happened to my country? Big Brother is hear, 1984 is happening in 2013. This is the new Soviet Union, and I can't wake up from this nightmare. Oh please America, we need strong leaders to fight for our constitutional rights, I believe it is now hanging by a thread.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    June 11, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    Tators and There You go Again?

    So if your houses were on fire would you not want anybody to tell you?

    "People need to learn and accept that there are usually trade-offs in life. "

    I didn't agree to anything so this "trade-off" is null and void.

    Paul Revere was also considered a traitor when he warned everyone that the Redcoats were coming.

    Snowden is a Hero and a Patriot. Real Patriotism costs something and there are risks involved.

    Spying without a warrant in this country is a FELONY. Those who engage in this regardless of affiliation are felons and traitors.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    June 11, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Leave it to BO to turn the NSA into the Stasi.

    I don't think they bothered to poll Patrick Henry

    atl134,
    for once I agree with you

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    June 11, 2013 12:53 p.m.

    My constiutional rights are exempt from trade-offs of any kind.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    June 11, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    @Tators: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Ben Franklin

    Terrorist threats are way overblown. Your odds of dying in a terrorist attack in a given year are about 1 in 100 million. You're around four times more likely to die by lightning strike and you're around 1200 times more likely to die in a car accident. It isn't the government's job to eliminate all risks. Trying to do that leads to huge abuses of power and losses of rights (as well as being tremendously expensive).

    This war on terror is not worth fighting if the cost is giving up our liberty. It was Al Qaeda's goal to destroy our free society, and thanks to scaremongering and sentiments like those you express above, they are winning after all.

    Snowden is not a traitor. Manning was- he leaked tens of thousands of pages of sensitive material indiscriminately with his emotional instability being the only real motivation. Snowden blew his whistle on one tremendous fact, on one enormous abuse of government power.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    June 11, 2013 1:22 p.m.

    To atl134:

    You never explained what your reaction would be if you were a part of forcing the government to have less means of providing federal security and then having another 9/11 tragedy happen soon thereafter.

    And just how are you and every other individual going to decide and implement what their own personal trade-off is going to be for having their own acceptable security?
    Every single individual simply can't have their own personal preference in a nation of over 300 million people when dealing with such a all-encompassing federal matter. Saying such a Burger King type statement that I'll have it my own personal way when it comes to trade-offs is just unrealistic rhetoric that simply sounds good and idealistic, but is not reasonable.

    We do and need to have a federal level policies, decided by our elected representatives, of what is best for our country as a whole when it comes to benefits versus trade-offs regarding any national issue. That's what a Republic is. And that's what our country has been for over 200 years. We elect our representatives and then they decide the laws and policies for us.

  • Kirk R Graves West Jordan, UT
    June 11, 2013 1:22 p.m.

    What Snowden did was illegal. He will likely go to jail for a very long time. In one of his statements he even mentioned that he accepted that possibility.
    Remember though, illegal does not always equal wrong. What he did was the right and moral thing. He knew he had to act, even knowing the probable consequences. That is the true sign of a hero.
    Whatever the rest of the world might believe, he recognized that his fellow citizens had to know what our government was doing to us. After that, it becomes our responsibility to act. If we choose to do nothing, then we deserve the nation we will inherit.

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    June 11, 2013 1:38 p.m.

    @Anti Bush-Obama - They had a warrant for the program: "The first explosive document Snowden revealed was a top secret court order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that granted a three-month renewal for a massive collection of American phone records."

    While I maintain that the government needs to be empowered to prevent terrorist attacks, I also concede that in recent years the government has overstepped its bounds. I believe most people are "ok with the government spying on them" because they don't have anything to hide, and they know the government isn't listening to their phone calls, just tracking who they call. However, I bet that many of these same Americans would suddenly have a problem with the program if the government used this program to prosecute them for other crimes, not linked to terrorism.

    The bottom line is: the government will never be able to stop anyone who is determined enough from taking human lives. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try at all. How we go about doing that, and the limits we impose on the government are at where we all disagree, and may never completely reach a consensus.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    June 11, 2013 1:47 p.m.

    @Prodicus:

    Do you really believe national security threats are way overblown? Do you have any rough idea of now many potential terrorist acts have been quietly thwarted by our national security teams since 9/11? Most people don't. They live safe little lives with their heads in the sand when it comes to such things... all the while believing they know everything about everything.

    A big part of the reason we have those low odds of dying in an attack is because we do have diligent national security measures in place. As such, America is one of the safest countries on earth.

    What's ironic is that you and other complainers have been all-the-while safely living your lives with this national security procedure in place and you had no idea whatsoever that you were giving up any personal liberties. Having this policy hasn't effected your personal life in any measurable way that you can determine.

    And yet now that it's become public knowledge, you and others suddenly think we're all now public martyrs living in nazi gestapo conditions. Seems pretty ridiculous when you think about it. Communications are just monitored, not listened to... and not all.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    June 11, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    Is this guy a traitor or hero? Hard to say at this point. If what the guy is saying is true then he is a hero for exposing a government gone wild trampling on it's citizens rights for little or no reason. After seeing what the same government did with the IRS targeting and intimidating illegally groups of people for their political beliefs then how can you possibly trust ANYTHING this current US government does or says? The trust level of the US government is at an all time low so I say let's keep all options wide open and give this guy the benefit of the doubt. I want to hear his proof and his case and I do NOT want politicians trying to silence him.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    June 11, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated., and no Warrants hall issue, but upon probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    Seems pretty clear to me, what the government is doing is CLEARLY illegal under the Amendment IV of the U.S. Constitution.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    June 11, 2013 2:08 p.m.

    To Anti Bush-Obama:

    You are living in a fairly-land world if you think all of your constitutional rights you've been enjoying are exempt from any trade-off of any kind. In accepting your current way of life, you've already made many more trade-offs than you've ever thought about.

    Your constitutional rights are for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Are you or anyone so naive to believe that our liberty comes without any costs or trade-offs? Having friends or relatives die in national wars is a trade-off for our current liberty. Needing to obey safety traffic laws is a liberty trade-off for our level of enjoyed safety.

    There are hundreds of other ways we make personal trade-offs of almost every kind for the relatively safe and world-envied lifestyle we as Americans are free to enjoy. We have been making trade-offs our whole lives and usually never realize it. Now that this NSA policy has come to light, many people want to get on their soapboxes and complain about what was never effecting them to begin with. It's very naive.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    June 11, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    @Prodicus

    "Terrorist threats are way overblown. Your odds of dying in a terrorist attack in a given year are about 1 in 100 million. You're around four times more likely to die by lightning strike and you're around 1200 times more likely to die in a car accident. It isn't the government's job to eliminate all risks. Trying to do that leads to huge abuses of power and losses of rights (as well as being tremendously expensive)."

    I think you make a very important point and one that some people are totally missing here. ADDITIONALLY, I think we need to consider another point even further. That is, while dying at the hands of so-called terrorists is not likely, dying in a state sanctioned gulag or concentration camp are relatively probable. In the past century or so, hundreds of millions in this world have met just such a fate. It was all done in the name of national security and it was all done against those branded as 'traitors.' The commenter Tators mentions above that this is the trade-off? Well, if that is the case, Tators, I say no deal.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    June 11, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    "The biggest complainers of this program should consider that it exists only and solely to keep another 9/11 or Boston marathon bombing type tragedy from happening again." - Tators

    There were many clues pointing to 9/11 that the U.S. government ignored, but they weren't listening to "We the People" who submitted reports to the F.B.I. that foreigners were being trained to fly planes who had no interest in learning how to land. (Huh?)

    Russia informed the U.S. government that the older of the two Tsarnaev brothers could not be trusted and had recently traveled to terrorist training areas, but again our government did not believe them enough to track him like they should have.

    Both the terrorist attacks you use to bolster your argument, were the U.S. governments fault because they ignored information that they already had.

    If anything our U.S. government has proven itself to be incompetent when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks. It is "We the People" who more often than not uncover these terrorist plots.

    These government databases are a violation of the Constitution and are an unneeded invasion on our privacy.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    June 11, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    @Tators

    A crime against the American people and the Constitution has been committed and you act as if it's "No big deal."

    Your argument that we have been living under those security procedures for a long time is specious. Just because a crime has not been discovered doesn't make it any less of crime.

    I simply do not trust the U.S. government, when it comes to how they will use and handle this data. There have just been far too many examples of government malfeasance to unabashedly say, "It no big deal."

    It is a "Big deal" to me and many others posting here.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2013 3:04 p.m.

    This has been suspected for years. This story cannot be "news" to anyone.

  • Fitz Murray, UT
    June 11, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    A couple of thoughts, if I may. First, when Snowden went to work for Booze Allen, he signed an agreement barring him from releasing classified information. He breached this agreement causing a significant credibility loss and apparently violated federal law. That said, his leaking of this information seems to indicate that the Director of NSA misled Congress when he was asked by the Senator from Oregon about the scope of NSA's intelligence gathering, which creates credibility issues.

    Second, FISA has, apparently, granted what could only be classified as a General Warrant to NSA to gather information. According to "Commentaries on the Constitution," General Warrants are not Constitutional, which means this method used by the NSA to gather intelligence is unconstitutional. Quoting Commentaries "A warrant...to be legal, must not only state the name of the party, but also the time, and place, and nature of the offence with reasonable certainty." General Warrants can not meet this standard.

    Lastly, my rights are not trumped by supposed "national security" concerns if the Federal Government gathers intelligence in a manner that defies the Constitution. Am I to blindly trust the Federal Government when they say this a "national security" issue?

  • mountainlocal Brooklyn, NY
    June 11, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    A free press was created to be a watchdog of the government. A problem now is it's all market driven and most Americans would rather know if Kayne is going to be there when Kim has the baby rather than if the government is tracking their every move. Journalism now is largely voyeurism and ambulance chasing, yet this is the kind of story that is necessary for a free society. I wish there was more.

    This is serious stuff folks. They say they are using the data to track terrorists. The problem may be 50 years in the future. It's a slippery slope. I am not alright with this and for the first time in my life, feel uneasy about posting remarks in a public forum. There is too much money and power in Washington and with the donors they serve.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 11, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    "Do you have any rough idea of now many potential terrorist acts have been quietly thwarted by our national security teams since 9/11? Most people don't."

    How can we when the data is kept classified? When one claims the country is under attack, but forbids the public to see the data that proves the claim, and simply asks the public to trust them, that will lead to tyranny. This isn't rocket science.

    Maybe a lot of attacks have been prevented. Maybe none have. The point is no one knows, except for those who are telling us to trust them. Since the program has gone under both parties (contrary to lost in DC's typical one-sided blame game), and both sides have done things to bring their trustworthiness into question, I see no reason to believe their national security claims either. That's not surprising and it didn't take this leak to inform us of the government trust problem.

    Snowden is not a traitor, nor is he a hero. He is a criminal and a fugitive. If he was a whistleblower, he'd be willing to accept the consequences of his actions, not hide out from the law.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    June 11, 2013 6:21 p.m.

    @Tators

    These programs have been long before the Boston Bombing.

    So why didn't they stop it the first time?

    This just more government encroachment on our liberties.

    This is about power and control not protection.

    Please don't believe the little lies that giving in a little more, and a little more, and a little more, is okay.

    Either you value liberty and freedom, or you value being watched and controlled. In the trade off, there is no proof of any gain in security, But even a little security means nothing living under a controlling and freedomless government.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 12, 2013 5:43 a.m.

    Whether or not we agree with and support the surveillance program, there is really a more fundamental issue here: Does an individual who was not part of the program and who has no information as to the reason for its implementation, its effectiveness and its parameters have the right to take it upon himself to reveal classified information to the world? Suppose he didn't approve of spying in general, and decided to leak the names of all our spies and undercover operatives around the world? Or, because he was opposed to the war in Afghanistan, he published all the classified information about our troops, bases and weapons in use there in order to force us to withdraw our troops? One individual, untrained in intelligence operations, hired only to maintain computer systems, has no right to unilaterally make decisions affecting national security and national policies. It's evidence of a colossal ego at play: "I know better than the President, all of Congress, all the intelligence agencies and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about what the US ought to do." No different than Benedict Arnold.

  • Interloper Portland, OR
    June 12, 2013 6:29 a.m.

    I want to commend Tators for standing his or her ground. As this commenter stated there is nothing illegal about the NSA's surveillance programs. They have been tailored not to clash with the Fourth Amendment's protections regarding search and seizure. And, most significant, only the communications of foreigners are subject to examination of content. For that, a warrant must be obtained.

    Much of the faux rancor against the NSA programs is really about opposition to anything that occurs during the administration of the first African-American President. The same people were not critical of the NSA's much more invasive surveillance programs under George W. Bush. A Washington Post poll shows most Republicans who say they oppose the NSA interventions under Obama said they supported them during the Bush era. So, it is President Obama they oppose, not Prism and the other programs.

    Fortunately, most Americans, 56% in the WaPo poll, support the NRA even after the leaks.

  • Albert Maslar CPA (Retired) Absecon, NJ
    June 12, 2013 6:53 a.m.

    President Obama on June 7 defended his expanding NSA surveillance program as striking “The right balance between national security and civil liberties…"You can't have 100 percent security and also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a government.”
    Obama piously declared that no plan is 100% sure to protect the people but these measures are the price people must pay for protection, advice used by Mafioso collecting protection money. Shadow Government has boldly come out of the shadows due to disclosures by Edward Snowden. Big Brother has gone far beyond the once seemingly absurd Orwell devastating and dire predictions like; “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” and “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Orwell was ahead of his time but perhaps little brother Snowden has stuck his finger in the dike by acting on those two axioms.
    Only history will prove whether Snowden is hero or traitor. There is the profusion of lies and misdirection emanating from DC and the President in particular.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 12, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    Kirk R Graves,

    “....illegal does not always equal wrong. What he [Snowden] did was the right and moral thing. He knew he had to act, even knowing the probable consequences. That is the true sign of a hero....”
    ______________________________

    If what Snowden did was right, moral, and heroic, why is he on the lam? He does the deed, then high-tails it to parts unknown to hide out. I don’t see any honor in that.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 12, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    Legalize_the_Constitution,

    "....This seems like a bad dream and I'm pinching myself desperately trying to wake up. I feel like we have turned into the Soviet Union over night, with the loss of privacy and freedom and the ever growing evil empire central government that can and will take advantage of its power to control...."
    ______________________________

    I can’t help you if you don’t see the difference between a Constitutional government that uses legitimate powers in a dangerous world to protect its people and a Soviet government that used its powers to suppress its people. Of course even Constitutional powers can be abused and the Obama Administration and every Administration is accountable for how it uses Constitutional authority.

    In answer to your rhetorical question of “what has happened to my country,” I think OUR country is doing better than partisan criticism wants to appreciate.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 12, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    Whether what Snowden did was legal or illegal has nothing at all to do with what the goverment has done. There are two separate "cases". Every American citizen has the moral responsiblity to "out" any governmental "crime", which Snowden is doing. Collecting information on American Citizens without a warrant signed by a judge giving the place to be searched and the limitations of that search FOR A SPECIFIC PROBABLE crime is illegal.

    We have the 4th Amendment for a reason. No person, convervative or liberal, inside of government or out, has the right to decide for himself the limits of that amendment. Obama's administration crossed that line.

    Where are the warrants? Show us that "probable cause" was invoked to track our phone calls and our emails. No judge in his right mind would allow that kind of "evidence" to be used in a trail. If it's illegal in a trial, why makes anyone think that it is legal outside of the courtroom? When did " shall not be violated" suddenly become "shall be violated" because the Obama administration wants to "check up" on us?

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 12, 2013 5:08 p.m.

    Mike,

    As currently written, no laws were violated. Your insistence otherwise does not change that fact.

  • Cincinnatus Kearns, UT
    June 12, 2013 5:33 p.m.

    Mike Richards- on this I agree with you. The FISA courts have overstepped their bounds. The fact that we even have "secret" courts is Constitutionally abhorrent.

    My point of disagreement is this- blame Obama, because he is a big part of this, but don't forget to implicate Bush, because the Patriot Act and a lot of this warrantless wiretapping and secret courts started under his administration. As we all know, once government starts something, it's difficult to stop or slow down.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 12, 2013 5:58 p.m.

    Claudio,

    I disagree.

    My wife works for a company that makes a lot of telephone calls. That company MUST tell everyone that it is recording the call BEFORE the call can continue.

    No one's telephone calls can be recorded by a third party unless permission has been given to record those calls. (I can record your calls to me without your knowledge and without your permission and you can record your calls to me without my knowledge or permssion as long as the one doing the recording is also one of the parties speaking.)

    The government cannot use evidence in a court against us if that evidence has been obtained illegally. The 4th Amendment requires that a warrant be issued to certain kinds of information, including a "wiretap".

    Pretending that something is legal just because Obama tells us that it is leagal is a huge mistake. His word is becoming worth less and less every day as new "scandals" are uncovered.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 12, 2013 11:07 p.m.

    Mike,

    You can disagree with my opinion. You cannot disagree with the facts.

  • Interloper Portland, OR
    June 13, 2013 4:40 a.m.

    Mike Richards, these NSA programs do not involve recording people's phone calls or any monitoring of content. The only metadata collected from American citizens is phone numbers, phone locations and duration of calls. LIke many people criticizing the NSA programs, you are wrong about what they entail. Edward Snowden has encouraged people to believe things that aren't true.

  • jamisgirl West Haven, UT
    June 13, 2013 7:59 a.m.

    Fine, so the government is using this information to go after "terrorists". What happens when "terrorist" no longer applies to a Middle-Eastern Muslim, but instead applies to you if you disagree or dissent from the administration? What then? Will you still feel safe and that you have nothing to hide....The Patriot Act has an enormous capability of being abused and turned against U.S. citizens. Looks like maybe it already is...

  • jamisgirl West Haven, UT
    June 13, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    @Claudio: As currently written, no laws were violated. Your insistence otherwise does not change that fact.

    Hitler never broke any laws either, he simply fit loopholes in to the laws so he could do whatever he wished and the people remained silent... THAT ended well, didn't it?

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 13, 2013 4:49 p.m.

    Re: jamisgirl

    Comparing this to the systematic torture and murder of Jews, Roma, gays, Catholics and others is a tragic overreach and quite insulting.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 14, 2013 3:25 p.m.

    Most human suffering, through out history, have come from bad governments.

    Our employed leaders are in need of surveillance. Why, with all the taxes we pay, are we seventeen trillion dollars in debt?

    Seventeen trillion dollars equals $558,000 for every second in a year.

  • Culbear Bountiful, UT
    June 15, 2013 8:50 p.m.

    People argue the logistics, when in reality this is an argument of ideas. Ranging from general to personal and specific. This country was founded on the principle of individual freedom. So just because we made an imperfect system does not mean that we let it continue to breach the very idea it was meant to protect. The government was made to preserve individual freedom and help in the cooperative interaction for the bettering of society. When it ceases to do this then we must revolt. Against ideas and oppressions no matter how subtle, now this man will go down as either a patriot or a traitor. The problem is that now in this country the system is so corrupt it rewards people for doing the morally wrong thing. So correct moral choices are illegal. This is ridiculous, the governement and those in power need to start paying for this. Both with their paychecks and their time.

    Remember society is not the government, the country is not the government, but we are the society and we are our country. we make the government, we cant let the government make us. Then it becomes communism, and communism doesnt work.