April 28, 2015
By John Bolton
Congress is poised to decide whether to re-authorize programs run by the National Security Agency that assess patterns of domestic and international telephone calls and emails to uncover linkages with known terrorists. These NSA activities, initiated after al-Qaeda’s deadly 9/11 attacks, have played a vital role in protecting America and our citizens around the world from the still-metastasizing terrorist threat.
The NSA programs do not involve listening to or reading conversations, but rather seek to detect communications networks. If patterns are found, and more detailed investigation seems warranted, then NSA or other federal authorities, consistent with the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, must obtain judicial approval for more specific investigations. Indeed, even the collection of the so-called metadata is surrounded by procedural protections to prevent spying on U.S. citizens.
Nonetheless, critics from the right and left have attacked the NSA for infringing on the legitimate expectations of privacy Americans enjoy under our Constitution. Unfortunately, many of these critics have absolutely no idea what they are talking about; they are engaging in classic McCarthyite tactics, hoping to score political points with a public justifiably worried about the abuses of power characteristic of the Obama administration. Other critics, following Vietnam-era antipathies to America’s intelligence community, have never reconciled themselves to the need for robust clandestine capabilities. Still others yearn for simpler times, embodying Secretary of State Henry Stimson’s famous comment that “gentlemen don’t read each others’ mail.”
Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: NSA activities key to terrorism fight