Defending the Surveillance programs

Most of the discussion on this blog about the government’s program to monitor phone calls and the internet has been against it.  But some pundits, politicians, and security experts are defending the surveillance.

After the jump, I have excerpts from two journalists who defend the programs.  The conservative Charles Lane argues that, despite Rand Paul’s plans to file a lawsuit against the surveillance programs, they are, in fact, constitutional and legal.  The liberal Richard Cohen argues that the surveillance isn’t all that bad.  Safeguards are built in, and, besides, we have already given up our privacy every time we log onto Google and other online sites.

Do these arguments change your mind?  If not, how would you answer them?

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A Patriot or a Traitor?

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who has been working with an intelligence contractor, revealed himself to be the source of reports about the government’s mass monitoring of telephones and the internet. After the jump, read about the cloak-and-dagger details from the perspective of the reporter to whom he leaked the classified information.

Do you consider him to be a traitor for giving aid and comfort to the enemy by disrupting a major anti-terrorism program?  Or do you consider him to be a patriot for exposing major threats to constitutional principles and American liberties? [Read more...]

Church of England does the best it can on gay marriage

The Church of England has been opposing gay marriage, but votes in Parliament demonstrate that they can’t stop it.  So the state church is dropping its attempts to kill the gay marriage bill and is concentrating instead on improving it; that is, making gay marriage more like regular marriage.  For example, under the current bill, adultery is not a grounds for divorce for homosexual couples!  And lesbian spouses do not have parental responsibilities if one partner is a mother!

So adultery doesn’t violate marriage vows for gay married couples?  And parental obligations are different in same-sex marriages?  I’m curious if such differences in what marriage entails are part of the gay marriage movement overall.  If there are different rules for the two kinds of marriage, the slogan “marriage equality” is bogus.  Gay marriage would, in fact, change the institution as a whole. [Read more...]

The Surveillance State

The federal government has been monitoring the phone calls of some 10 million Verizon subscribers (nearly 10% of them), thanks to a secret court order that initiated what is being called the largest and most open-ended surveillance effort ever and a grave assault on civil liberties. [Read more...]

Supremes give police access to your DNA

It takes a warrant for the police to search your house or tap your phone.  But not to record and keep track of your DNA.  So ruled the Supreme Court yesterday.  The Constitution’s protections against “unreasonable search and seizure” do not apply to your genetic code. [Read more...]

What is a dog worth?

If a dog is killed through someone’s negligence, is the owner entitled to compensation for just the monetary value of the animal (usually not much) or also for the “sentimental value” that come from the owner’s emotional attachment to the pet?  After all, family heirlooms–such as your grandfather’s watch or a piece of jewelry that has been handed down from generation to generation–can have a claimed value greater than the material cost.  Why not a family pet?

The Texas Supreme Court just ruled on this matter.  What do you think it ruled?  What do you think it should have ruled?  Think about that, then after the jump read about the court’s decision and George Will’s account of the case.  Do you agree with what he says about it? [Read more...]


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