New Castle News

Closer Look

June 11, 2013

Our Opinion: News leaks reveal dramatic scope of government data collection

NEW CASTLE — In case you had any doubts, Big Brother is watching.

And listening. And for all we know, smelling and tasting as well.

It was reported last week — and later confirmed — that the National Security Agency has been vacuuming up data on all telephone calls made through Verizon.

Why just Verizon? It turns out that it has been phone calls carried by all service providers since shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks that have been scooped up by the government for analysis. This system, we are assured, works to identify communications between possible terrorists without impeding significantly the privacy of American citizens.

But wait! There’s more! Fresh on the heels of this startling revelation came word that the NSA and FBI have been gathering Internet records as well — everything from emails to instant messaging to video communications.

Again, we are told, this is all in the name of national security, and there’s no reason for Americans to be concerned about it.

In fact, the inference given is that we should be outraged that terrorists now have been tipped off about these highly classified programs. A former government contractor — who has admitted to leaking the information to the Washington Post and a British newspaper — is almost certain to face serious criminal charges over his actions.

Time and again, the message out of Washington regarding these revelations is: Trust us. Our response is: Why should we?

Before we go any further, we must note there is no partisan issue here. This data sweeping originated under the former Bush administration and has continued — and seemingly expanded — under President Obama.

Meanwhile, the scooping up of data related to telephone calls and Internet communications has all been approved by court order, the government insists. And — in accordance with the law — key members of Congress in both parties were notified it has been taking place.

In other words, just go about your business and let Washington worry about these matters.

It might be nice to do that, but we have a few concerns. First and foremost is the sense the next shoe is waiting to drop, along with the one after that. What we now know about the NSA’s eavesdropping endeavors comes courtesy of a leak. In what other ways is government gathering personal data that hasn’t been revealed?

We understand the government needs to take steps to maintain security in the modern era. And keeping tabs on terror suspects through their communications is obviously part of that process.

But when the practices employed so obviously extend beyond credible suspects, we think government needs to be held accountable. More on that tomorrow.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • Local pastor helping fire victims

    A local pastor is opening up donation avenues to help two families who lost their homes to fire this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • First Energy to replace transmission line

    FirstEnergy Corp. has plans to rebuild a power transmission line between the West Pittsburg plant and a Mahoningtown substation.

    April 18, 2014

  • school.jpg Union to return assistant principal post

    The Union Area School District will have a new administrator when the 2014-15 school year starts. The board voted 8-0 Wednesday night to hire an assistant principal. Debra Allebach was absent.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Calen.tiff Callen gets state honors

    Robert Callen has been selected to receive a state award for his contribution to local government in Pennsylvania. Callen, 58, executive director of the Lawrence County Regional Council of Governments, received the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bobosky.jpg Gas holdouts unconvinced of safety

    When Suzanne Matteo and her husband, Martin, bought their house on four acres in Pulaski Township they had a plan. They would grow a huge vegetable garden, raise lots of flowers and a few chickens and enjoy the fresh air and quiet.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miller.jpg Wilmington superintendent discusses common core

    The Wilmington district has no reason to fear new Pennsylvania Core standards, superintendent Dr. Michelle Miller said. She talked about the standards to approximately two dozen residents at the school board’s monthly pre-meeting Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shreck.tiff Schreck reappointed Shenango superintendent

    Dr. Michael Schreck has been reappointed as Shenango’s superintendent for a five-year term. The school board approved his reappointment by an 8-0 vote Monday. Nicholas Manolis was absent.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Congressional candidate disqualified

    Commonwealth Court has removed a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat from the May 20 primary ballot. Judge Bernard L. McGinley has invalidated the nomination petitions of Mel A. Marin of Sharon.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Up through the ground comes education cash

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Shenango passes tax abatement

    Shenango Township supervisors unanimously approved a tax abatement for Blackwatch Properties LLC when they met Thursday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage