6/19/2013 11:03:00 AM Letter: Allow government to thwart terrorists
News is breaking about the National Security Agency's operations to gather domestic telephone and Internet records. All three branches of federal government - or portions thereof - have reportedly approved the program, and the president has publicly explained the need for conducting such surveillance to thwart terrorism. At this point public reaction is mixed.
I'm usually no fan of Mr. Obama, but in this case he's right. Although recent incidents involving government overreach have cast a shadow over its agencies and perked public distrust, it's important that we don't carry that distrust too far.
Upon our victory over the Soviet Union ending the Cold War, the relief I felt was tempered by deep concern as I foresaw an approaching period of international hostility and instability. Paradoxically, the Cold War produced a macabre sort of world stability because the pre-eminent world powers were squared off in roughly equal nuclear camps. Our excellent surveillance and intelligence agencies (and strong economy) helped preserve that military standoff while the USSR's economy fell apart.
Unfortunately, the Cold War's end brought about severe reductions in US intelligence funding and a rise in international extremism. As terrorist elements were growing, our government began using former defense outlays as a "peace dividend" to fund domestic programs. We would soon learn that the insidious War on Terror would demand more, not less, intelligence.
The threat of international terrorism is a game-changer. Technology has given terrorists and rogue nations new weapons that transcend traditional borders and defenses. Consequently, we must invest in new and innovative intelligence tools and methods.
Americans may be facing a difficult choice: abrogate some of their personal privacy and freedom, or succumb to relentless terrorist attackers who are only a cyber-moment from our doorstep.
Col. Art Saboski
Former Chairman, Reconnaissance & Intelligence Panel, Headquarters