Readers Write: (June 11): Surveillance, weight loss, North Dakota

  • Updated: June 10, 2013 - 7:05 PM

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Are politicians on the side of citizens?

We’re a country that has truly become a theocracy when our members of Congress believe in myths like the National Security Agency’s PRISM program being a viable way to acquire intelligence on terrorists. No one knows how effective the “total information awareness” massive surveillance of phone calls, e-mails and Internet data has been in identifying actual terrorists.

Languages, written or spoken, have so many variations, inflections, typos and codes that it takes a bit if naïveté to think the program, however sophisticated, could not be circumvented.

But we do know how government snooping can be abused for political purposes and can be expected to worsen with time. Instead of prosecution, Edward Snowden (“Ex-CIA worker: I’m the leak,” June 10), Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and others should be commended for trying to prevent “Big Brother” from taking over here.


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The disclosure about the NSA data collection has led to some ironic opinions on the matter. Many politicians have proclaimed that this surveillance is no big deal because they “have nothing to hide.” The irony is that the same politicians say we can’t have universal background checks for guns on law-abiding citizens. Being that gun deaths and injuries dwarf the threat of terrorism, can someone explain this huge gap in logic?


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One voice that I expected to quickly enter the conversation is that of U.S. Sen. Al Franken. As many of you know, he has been one of the only senators to actively engage on the issues of privacy in the digital age — including sponsorship of bills like the Location Privacy Protection Act, about which he stated: “I believe that Americans have the fundamental right to control who can track their location, and whether or not that information can be given to third parties …”

Where, then, is his voice and advocacy for the individual’s right to privacy regarding the collection of data related to our phone calls, e-mails, text messages and browsing history by the federal government? His statements to date have been about “the basic architecture of the programs.”

It would be a tragic shame if Franken was more concerned about infractions to our privacy when corporations try to send us coupons, rather than our privacy rights outlined by the fourth amendment.


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Not an equally attainable goal

Alan Stone, who lost more than 100 pounds through diet and exercise, writes in the June 10 Letter of the Day (“Get in shape, but do it the real, sustainable way”) that “anyone can do what I have done.” He has accomplished a tremendous feat and is rightly proud of it, but unfortunately his statement just isn’t true. There are no simple solutions to a complex issue that disproportionately affects people of nonwhite ethnicity or lower income.

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