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Domestic Surveillance_ProsandCons

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Domestic Surveillance_ProsandCons

  1. 1. POL360: McCarthy 1 Kati McCarthy POL 360: American Foreign Policy / S14 Munsil March 18, 2014 Introduction of Issue: The National Security Act of 1947 created the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.i Since their origination during the Cold War, these two agencies have remained highly controversial. Due to the secretive and covert nature of their work, there has been much mistrust of intelligence agencies. Recently with the rise in terrorism and new technology, intelligence agencies have found it necessary to resort to domestic surveillance. The controversial question is: Do the benefits of national security surveillance prevail over the forfeit of personal privacy and certain liberties? Pro: Intelligence organizations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and their surveillance operations are vital to the success of American national security. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, word started to spread that several federal agencies and local law enforcement were aware that there were threats made by Al Qaeda concerning attacks on American soil.ii These agencies had failed to work together and provide each other with data that may have helped to “connect the dots”.iii This “intelligence gap” resulted in a successful terrorist attack on American soil that devastated the entire nation. Decreasing the intelligence gap by encouraging inter-agency cooperation and gaining better means of gathering quality intelligence was necessary at a time such as this.
  2. 2. POL360: McCarthy 2 These federal agencies have continuously eliminated attempted terrorists attacks since 9/11 through the use of surveillance techniques. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans felt vulnerable and insecure. Hook and Spanier state that “strict new measures were clearly needed to protect airports, coastlines, electrical utilities, communication networks, and government buildings from future attacks.” These new measures included invasive searches at airports, limited public information, increased domestic surveillance, a decrease of legal defenses for alleged terrorists, and “profiling of minority groups associated with terrorism”.iv National security surveillance increased not only for foreign threats, but it also increased domestically. Grudem refers to surveillance, specifically domestic wiretapping, as an “urgent defense interest”.v Part of this urgent defense interest is preventing further terrorist attacks. Anti- terrorism expert and journalist Ronald Kessler stated that the work of the CIA, FBI, and military forces are the reason there has not been another terrorist attack since 9/11; he also goes on to say that since the 2001 terrorist attacks, these groups have found, detained, or eliminated around five-thousand terrorists.vi The main area of controversy over surveillance came when a New York Times article revealed domestic phone call and email monitoring.vii However, this monitoring has proven successful in foiling terrorist attacks. One such example given in the Times article is that of Iyman Faris: “The eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches”.viii According to the Heritage Foundation, as of September 2011 at least forty terrorist attacks have been prevented because of counterterrorism and intelligence tactics.ix Comprehensive intelligence is indispensable for the United States to combat the threats presented by terrorist groups. Federal agency surveillance has facilitated in decreasing terrorist activity within the United States borders.
  3. 3. POL360: McCarthy 3 The legality of agency surveillance has been questioned over the years. The complexity and urgency of the situation makes it difficult to obtain a warrant prior to monitoring calls. “If you are listening to a call between terrorists that lasts two minutes, there is no time to go to a local court and get the nearest judge to issue a warrant for that call because you will miss it.”x The USA PATRIOT Act has also lent to legality of federal surveillance. This act was put in place in aftermath of 9/11. The USA PATRIOT Act did three things to aid government agencies in ascertaining intelligence: (1) “eased government restrictions on domestic surveillance… allowing federal agents to gain easier access to citizen’s phone and medical records, business transactions, and email messages”; (2) “allowed ‘sneak-and-peek’ searches of private property without the owner’s knowledge”; (3) “made it easier for federal agents to detain and deport foreign citizens suspected of either being or supporting terrorists”.xi The USA PATRIOT Act over ruled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 which was put in place during the Vietnam War. Although the National Security Agency surveillance program is disputed as highly invasive, these programs are only being deployed on “targeted computers”.xii The NSA is posing as social media sites such as Facebook to gain access to targeted individuals.xiii Once the target logs on, the NSA has access to all files and can even remotely control the microphone and camera.xiv The National Security Agency is not infecting every citizen’s computers; they are only targeting the “hard- to- reach” targets, those thought to be an immediate threat to national security.xv The National Security Agency is not as invasive as portrayed to the public. They are simply looking for targeted threats and dismantling terrorist plots before they can be implemented, and thanks to the USA PATRIOT Act, surveillance for the purpose of national security has been legally protected.
  4. 4. POL360: McCarthy 4 Americans should put an end to the criticism they have for intelligence agencies, and be grateful for the work the intelligence agencies do and the information they provide. Wayne Grudem says that “Americans should… be thankful for the CIA and the valuable intelligence it provides for our government”.xvi Most Americans do not understand the pressure federal agents endure in their day to day work. They also do not understand that the work of these agencies provide substantial information that becomes the basis for foreign policy and military action around the globe. A distain for federal intelligence agencies has risen up especially in the past few years. Grudem gives two effects of an “anti-CIA mindset”: (1) It is destructive because it “undermines the morale of CIA employees who often perform extremely dangerous tasks at great personal sacrifice, largely out of devotion to protecting the nation”; (2) “Opposition to the CIA… runs contrary to the very ability of the nation to defend itself; it is therefore opposition to the United States itself”.xvii With regards to the first effect, when morale is damaged, it becomes difficult to recruit new employees as well accomplishing its day to day operations.xviii Low morale can also lead to information and intelligence leaks such as Snowden which can have detrimental effects on American foreign policy. With regards to the second effect of an “anti- CIA mindset”, anti-CIA translates to an anti-American mindset and lines of loyalty are blurred. The American people should be thankful for the indispensable work of the intelligence agencies and realized the detrimental effects their criticism can have of American foreign policy. Con: Intelligence agencies have become highly controversial in today’s political sphere. Many feel their privacy is being violated. Others see the secretiveness and covert nature of these
  5. 5. POL360: McCarthy 5 agencies coupled with their past mistakes and are wary of their current actions. Another criticism of federal intelligence agencies is the legality of their actions and the violation of FISA. Americans highly value their privacy especially from the government. “Domestic spying was much more controversial (than foreign surveillance) because of the great importance Americans attached to privacy and freedom from ‘big brother’.”xix Privacy has become an unspoken right of the American citizen. Much like the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the average American believes they have a right to privacy. There are many people arguing that domestic surveillance is an infringement on civil rights.xx Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden video conferenced into the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas to “urged technology companies to adopt better methods of encryption to protect users from government surveillance”.xxi According to the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Snowden's revelations about NSA surveillance prompted Google Inc. and other companies to strengthen their encryption technology, but he said the firms haven't done enough to protect the civil liberties of Internet users in the U.S. and abroad.”xxii Americans are saying that this is not an issue of national security, but an issue of privacy and civil rights. The general public is suspicious of the intelligence community. Due to their covert nature, the mistakes of the past, and recent intelligence leaks, the American public does not trust the actions of intelligence agencies. The covert actions of these agencies, specifically the Central Intelligence Agency, were not made known to the public in the formative years of the agency.xxiii Once made public, they became highly controversial and seen as un-American and against our exceptional image.xxiv In recent history, the National Security Agency has been known to be the most secretive of the intelligence agencies.xxv Another reason the public doubts the actions of intelligence agencies is their past errors in analyzing intelligence. In 1961, CIA analysts
  6. 6. POL360: McCarthy 6 “assumed that Castro’s army and much of Cuba’s population would welcome the invaders (American military forces) as liberators”; these calculations were incorrect.xxvi Castro’s forces overran the American forces on the coast of the Bay of Pigs. This is just one example of incorrect analysis or unreliable intelligence gathered by federal agencies over the years. Recently intelligence leaks by former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, have left America vulnerable to enemy attacks and reduced any confidence the American public may have had in the intelligence community. There is now talk that Snowden has been in communication with Russian officials.xxvii In the wake of the global uproar over Russia’s action in Crimea and Ukraine, the last thing the United States needs is to be roped into this mess because of national security leaks. “‘I would find it incredulous if they didn't,’ said Clapper (director of national intelligence), about any efforts to influence Snowden by the FSB, Russia's state security organization.”xxviii Past and current actions of the intelligence agencies have damaged their credibility in eyes of the American public. Federal intelligence agencies’ surveillance programs are a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. This act was set in place in the midst of the Vietnam War. The act “required investigators to seek warrants from a new secret court” before conducting domestic surveillance.xxix Intelligence surveillance violates the FISA because “it intercepts telephone communications without a warrant”.xxx The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is being grossly ignored by the intelligence community.
  7. 7. POL360: McCarthy 7 My Position: In a world of growing technology, threat of cyber-attack, and an innumerable amount of foes, intelligence gathering is an indispensable function of foreign policy. Surveillance is an essential part of intelligence gathering. At times, this may include domestic surveillance. Just as Americans have become adjusted to heightened airport security to ensure safety, they will become accustomed to intelligence surveillance to guarantee national defense. The way I see it, unless you have something to hide, you have no need to worry. With the immense amounts of phone, email, and internet data to sift through, the National Security Agency and any other intelligence agencies have no interest is checking up on your day to day Facebook posts. The National Security Agency surveillance programs do not target everyone. The in-depth, “invasive” programs such as “QUANTUMHAND” and “TURBINE” are only implemented on known threats and targets; otherwise all internet activity such as emails are run through a word recognition program to look for certain key words. I do not see how that impedes upon anyone’s civil liberties. The fact that no major terrorist attacks have been implemented on American soil since September 11, 2001, is largely due to surveillance performed by federal intelligence agencies. Intelligence gathering and surveillance are necessary parts of forming national security and foreign policy. I am pro intelligence agency surveillance because I believe the benefits outweigh the cost of forfeiture of privacy. Privacy has become exalted as a natural right; however, there is nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution where privacy is mentioned as an inherent right of every citizen. I, one day, hope to work in the intelligence community, and inevitably will be dealing with conducting surveillance or analyzing surveillance data. I understand the necessity for domestic surveillance due to the complexity of the situation: We are not combating an opposing nation, but an ideology. Opposing ideologies
  8. 8. POL360: McCarthy 8 have no borders; they can be harbored within our domestic borders. Due to this, domestic surveillance is often essential to situations such as these. Conclusion: The intelligence community is highly controversial and most often disputed in our modern day. There are pros and cons to federal intelligence agency surveillance programs. Several pros are the decrease of terrorist attacks on American soil, its legality due to the USA PATRIOT Act, and the work of federal intelligence agencies are vital to American national defense. Cons include an invasion of privacy, a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and past mistakes in data analysis. My personal position on domestic intelligence surveillance is in favor of it. It is a necessary function of national security.
  9. 9. POL360: McCarthy 9 Bibliography Hook, Steven, and John Spanier. American Foreign Policy since World War II. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2013. Grudem, Wayne. Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture . Zondervan, 2010. Mears, Bill. "U.S. doesn't rule out possibility Snowden secretly talking to Russians." CNN. . http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/04/politics/u-s-intelligence- snowden/index.html?iref=allsearch. Accessed March 18, 2014. Risen , James, and Eric LICHTBLAU. "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts." The New York Times. . http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html. Accessed March 18, 2014. Couts, Andrew. "NSA pretended to be Facebook to infect millions of computers." FoxNews. . http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2014/03/12/nsa-pretended-to-be-facebook-in-its-effort-to- infect-millions-computers/. Accessed March 18, 2014. Carafano, James, and Jessica Zuckerman. "40 Terror Plots Foiled Since 9/11: Combating Complacency in the Long War on Terror." The Heritage Foundation. . http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/09/40-terror-plots-foiled-since-9-11- combating-complacency-in-the-long-war-on-terror. Accessed March 18, 2014. MacMillan, Douglas. "Snowden: Tech Companies Must Improve Encryption." The Wall Street Journal. . http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304020104579431431786110884.html? mod=rss_front_total_headlines?a=1&m=en-us. Accessed March 18, 2014.
  10. 10. POL360: McCarthy 10 i Hook and Spanier, Pg. 49. ii Hook and Spanier, Pg. 273. iii Hook and Spanier, Pg. 273. iv Hook and Spanier, Pg. 275. v Grudem, Pg. 411. vi Grudem, Pg. 413. vii Grudem, Pg. 411. viii Risen and Lichtblau, New York Times, Dec. 16, 2005. ix Carafano and Zuckerman, Heritage Foundation, Sept. 7, 2011. x Grudem, Pg. 411. xi Hook and Spanier, Pg. 312. xii Couts, Fox News, March 12, 2014. xiii Couts, Fox News, March 12, 2014. xiv Couts, Fox News, March 12, 2014. xv Couts, Fox News, March 12, 2014. xvi Grudem, Pg. 424. xvii Grudem, Pg. 425. xviii Grudem, Pg. 425. xix Hook and Spanier, Pg. 312. xx Grudem, Pg. 411. xxi MacMillan, The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2014. xxii MacMillan, The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2014. xxiii Hook and Spanier, Pg. 70. xxiv Hook and Spanier, Pg. 70. xxv Risen and Lichtblau, New York Times, Dec. 16, 2005. xxvi Hook and Spanier, Pg. 85. xxvii Mears, CNN, February 5, 2014. xxviii Mears, CNN, February 5, 2014. xxix Hook and Spanier, Pg. 312. xxx Grudem, Pg. 411.

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