Inside Opinion

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Tag: terrorists


Privacy and the NSA: Do you have anything to worry about?

Have the NSA surveillance revelations got you wondering whether your own privacy is being compromised? Or whether it should even matter, since you’re probably not a terrorist?

Privacy expert and law professor Daniel J. Solove has some thoughts on the subject. Here’s an article he wrote for The Washington Post.

5 myths about privacy

By Daniel J. Solove

The disclosure of two secret government surveillance programs — one involving phone records and the other personal data from Internet companies — has sparked debate about privacy and national security. Has the government gone too far? Or not far enough? How much privacy should we sacrifice for security? To discuss these issues productively, some myths must be dispelled.

1. The collection of phone numbers and other “metadata” isn’t much of a threat to privacy.

Don’t worry, argue defenders of these surveillance programs: The government is gathering innocuous data, not intimate secrets. “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” President Obama declared. Intelligence agencies are “looking at phone numbers and durations of calls; they are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.” Read more »


Drones: Wise, maybe; constitutional, certainly

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Is the fight against al-Qaida chiefly a criminal proceeding, or is it a campaign of war?

If it’s the former, President Barack Obama must stop ordering drone strikes against Americans who’ve fallen in with al-Qaida and its affiliates, and who are working with them abroad.

In fact, he must stop ordering strikes against non-Americans, including al-Qaida leaders – because Hellfire missiles deny them due process, criminal defense teams and trials.

But if armed drones are weapons of a congressionally authorized war against avowed enemies of the United States, the Constitution fully empowers the president to use them. The only questions that remain are matters of practicality, ethics and wisdom.

Count us in the second camp. The nomination of John Brennan as CIA director has been foolishly sidelined in the Senate over this issue.

An individual drone strike can be criticized on various grounds: Was it effective? Did it hurt or help U.S. strategy? Did it create more enemies than it killed? Did it kill a disproportionate number of civilians?

But the president’s constitutional authority to order drone strikes as part of the war against anti-American jihadists is unquestionable. The presidential war-making power is not contingent on avoiding civilian – or American – casualties.
Read more »


There was no boom

Despite our comfort with many common ingredients used in improvised explosive devices, it is still a difficult process to use a primary explosive to set off a secondary explosive (and so on to a potential tertiary explosive) in what experts call a train.