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The following comments are my personal beliefs. The National Security Agency (NSA) metadata collection program called PRISM should be promptly stopped. Gathering all wireless telephone calls, e-mails, credit card transactions, etc. originating in the United States is a gross violation of our rights enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin said it better than I can, and I quote: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
But, didn’t the NSA director recently testify that his agency’s widespread surveillance practices prevented over 50 terrorist attacks worldwide? Further analysis by journalists, one being Peter Bergen as reported on CNN, showed that of the 42 plots on U.S. soil, nine involved attacks that failed — not identified and stopped, just failed — 29 other plots were uncovered by traditional law enforcement methods and of the remaining four plots some perhaps were foiled by NSA procedures. I am not certain as these four plots are not specifically identified.
Did NSA’s PRISM procedures uncover Major Hasan and stop his massacre of military men and women at Fort Hood? No. He even had printed on his business card, “Soldier of Allah.” More recently, did NSA’s PRISM identify the Tsarnaev brothers (Boston bombers) as terrorists from Chechen who even advertised their jihadist intention on YouTube and at the mosque in Boston which they attended? No.
Our intelligence agencies, nay, our federal government — Executive as well as Legislative branches — should focus their policies and procedures on finding out what the terrorists are doing and planning and not on gathering trillions of pieces of data generated by Americans. Terrorists are at war with us even though our president seldom admits this fact.
These terrorists are not grandmothers in wheel chairs or young children wanting to board an airplane who are molested by TSA agents. Who are these terrorists? Are they not the men who have been killing Americans since our embassy in Iran was taken over in 1979? The same groups of terrorists who bombed the Twin Towers in New York in 1993, tried to sink the U.S. Cole, attacked us again on our soil on 9/11, and murdered four Americans in Benghazi last year? Haven’t all these attacks on American men and women been perpetrated by Muslims identified as Islamists or sometimes called Jihadists?
I strongly believe the federal government’s surveillance procedures should be directed at these terrorists as they are committing war crimes against us. But, we cannot profile. I say, why not? I cannot name any successful war or police/sheriff department where the leaders did not profile. General MacArthur, in the Korean War, did not use intelligence assets to monitor communications in Australia and New Zealand. He used these assets to monitor North Korea and China. No police officer looking for a man with white skin, about 6 feet tall and in his 20s will monitor a black neighborhood to look for a grandfather-type gentleman.
So why shouldn’t the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. use most of their resources to monitor the Muslim communities? I say this fully realizing that many Muslims are peace-loving. But, existing facts show us that some mosques in this country market jihad. We also know that the Koran tells its adherents to practice jihad against infidels.
This may be difficult as the FBI negotiated a settlement with CAIR (Council for American Islamic Relations) in October 2011 to preclude any surveillance of mosques. Why? I do not know. But, I do know that this agreement does not prohibit the FBI or any other federal agency from performing surveillance activities with Christian churches or Jewish temples or tea party groups. See the IRS.
We have a sticky situation now existing in our country. We are not doing what is needed to identify and deter the terrorists from causing further harm to our country and to Americans worldwide. Changes are needed. I’ve attempted to show why and briefly mention some changes which I believe will be effective.
EDWARD T. BERNHOFT