NSA surveillance necessary

Suppose the United States was hit by another terrorist attack, and hundreds of Americans were killed, and afterward, it was discovered that those responsible had been in the country for months, making calls and sending email to each other and to terrorists abroad, yet nobody in the National Security Agency was able to connect the dots and prevent the attack. It’s safe to say the public outrage would dwarf the current outcry over the NSA surveillance program.

As part of its efforts to ferret out terrorist networks, the NSA collects phone numbers and duration of calls, as well as info on email sent and received, to create a database that can be searched for links to terrorist activity. It’s not “wiretapping.” Calls aren’t listened to nor email read without court approval, which requires reasonable suspicion of terrorist activity. According to the government, the program has helped to thwart 54 terrorist “events.”

Many say they’re outraged by the program, likening it to Watergate-era abuses. We think it would be shocking if the government were not taking such basic steps to protect its citizens.

We live in a world where corporations collect and analyze our personal information every time we use a smartphone, pull out a “store loyalty” card at the supermarket, check in on social media or use Google, all for the purpose of selling advertising and marketing products. For the government not to utilize the same simple data-mining techniques in the interest of national security would be inexcusable.