The law, intelligence officials were at pains to explain, does not allow the targeting of any citizen or other person living within the U.S. — unless there’s a warrant.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said that “intelligence collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence we collect and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.”
We hope he is right and that this is not snooping for the sake of snooping, because the threats are clearly out there.
The disclosures are likely to prompt congressional scrutiny but not reform or even strict oversight. The only real resistance is from two senators who are such ideological opposites that it is almost comical: the ultraliberal Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who would reopen the Patriot Act to restrict these activities; and the conservative libertarian Rand Paul, R-Ky., who called it “an astounding assault on the Constitution.”
But on the question of security versus privacy, the American people have long since made their choice. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., insists: “There’s nothing new about this program.”
Actually, there is. The American people now know about it.
Dale McFeatters writes for the Scripps Howard News Service.