Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: U.S. Phone Spying Gives Terrorists a Win

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: U.S. Phone Spying Gives Terrorists a Win

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: U.S. phone spying gives terrorists a win


An editorial from the Toronto Star, published June 9:

If Americans preferred not to think about how much they have surrendered in the war on terror, they can't avoid doing so now. They can't make a phone call to their dentist or hairdresser without having their home or cellphone number secretly taken down by Washington, along with the other party's number, the time of the call and its length. It's that bad.

If Osama bin Laden were still alive he'd chalk up this surveillance gone wild as a coup for Al Qaeda. More than a decade after the 9/11 attack it still has the United States living in fear and trading away freedoms for security. This is beginning to look like a war the U.S. is determined to lose, one way or another.

With the acquiescence of both Democratic and Republican intelligence leaders in Congress who fear being branded soft on terror, both U.S. President Barack Obama's administration and that of George W. Bush have secretly interpreted the Patriot Act of 2001 so broadly that no one can escape pervasive scrutiny.

Thanks to media leaks Americans now know that under the Patriot Act the secrecy-shrouded Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered the Verizon telecommunications company, serving 121 million customers, to hand over to the security services its records on an "ongoing, daily basis." Experts say it is not likely to be the only company affected. And the program is seven years old. Additionally, the security services have been authorized for nearly six years to scour the main U.S. Internet companies for emails, audio, video and other material on non-Americans living abroad.

Given these revelations Canadians, too, might wonder just how much surreptitious surveillance Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government tolerates from our own security services.

The American surveillance, which Obama describes as "modest encroachments" on privacy, has prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to urge people to "get angry" and petition the president to stop spying on citizens. …

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