Protecting the US and its citizens from harm”™s way is a duty every President must take seriously in the aftermath of 9/11. US citizens concerned about minimum individual privacy (Phone collection numbers) dwarves the need for collective security.
Having said that, however, US citizens must not tolerate any abuse of the privileges and the supreme powers accorded to the Federal Government by our own volition.
According to theÂ US Attorney General”™s Annual FISA Report to Congress, in 2009 the denial rate by FISA for approval of NSA warrants was 0.15%. Out of 1,320 cases, two were denied, eight were withdrawn and fourteen were modified to be stamped later with FISA approval.
The part that should worry everyUS citizen is not whether the NSA needs the data mining to connect the dots to safeguard us, but rather why FISA denied certain applications and on what grounds. The reasons behind these denials, modifications, and withdrawals is where the US Congress should focus its attention.
For a court that approved 1,376 applications in 2009, these cases that were denied or withdrawn should be of concern to all of us. The “Who” and the “Why” should tell us a lot about whether our trust is ill-advised or whether we can fully trust our own Government to protect us from terror while protecting fully our civil liberties.
The NSA may have presented these applications erroneously or they may be part of an intentional malice to harm a US citizen whose only crime was to disagree with the newly elected administration.
Personally, I doubt the leadership at the NSA would permit politicization of its important work, especially when run by a credible and highly decorated General. However, considering what happened to Sharyl Attkisson, James Rosen, and the IRS overstepping its authority, we should not discount abuse even if the chances are as minimal as they look.
How to verify that information without compromising the work of the NSA is the responsibility of a bi-partisan Congress. Nevertheless, it must be done to create a check and balance system Americans need to know it exists to trust their own government.