Looks like Al-Qaida is winning

At Heathrow Airport, the British national security police detained the partner of a journalist who had written stories based on leaks by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. George Orwell’s “1984” is almost 30 years late coming, but the intrusion of our government into the lives of American citizens is now rampant. If Al-Qaida forces us to relinquish our cherished American liberty in the so-called interest of national security, it has accomplished its purpose of destroying freedom in America.

ARTHUR E. HIGINBOTHAM, Minneapolis

Save the outrage, Euro leaders

Let’s not get too overwrought by the feigned outrage of European leaders over U.S. spying. Every single one of those countries has espionage agencies like the CIA and NSA. Every single one of them spies on the United States, too. Every one of those countries spies on every other country, friend and foe alike. It’s de rigueur. So, ignore their pompous, self-righteous hypocrisy. Oh, and you can ignore the hypocritical denials by the United States that it’s happening.

KEVIN DRISCOLL, St. Paul

But where will it end?

NSA of the USA, KGB of the USSR. Not much difference, is there? Never thought we would get there, but we have arrived.

BRUCE A. GRANGER, Prior Lake

Update laws to fit digital times

Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks and the Edward Snowden cases raise questions: Shouldn’t Congress now be taking pains legislatively to broadly distinguish between espionage/spying and leaking information? Should it establish meaningfully different penalties for each? Are espionage and spying to be seen as the same? In the digital age, when much can be shared so easily, we must take pains to clarify our laws.

DENNIS DILLON, Minneapolis

Can we trust our government?

Let’s assume the best-case scenario: The government is truly collecting and storing a billion private conversations a day solely for the purpose of fighting terrorism and keeping us safe (despite the fact the system failed to stop Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the man already on the terrorist watch list). Perhaps the NSA is staffed completely with professionals who would never think of doing anything inappropriate with your personal conversations or sent pictures (despite numerous accounts of Transportation Safety Administration agents groping folks, and at least one count of an agent “inappropriately touching himself behind the X-ray machine). Perhaps the Obama administration is truly using its power in our best interests. What about the next person we elect? Or the one after that? Will you continue to trust your government the next time we elect a right-wing president?

LUKE POWELL, Circle Pines, Minn.

Where’s proof it stops terror?

Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, claims that surveillance of e-mail messages has prevented more than 50 terrorist plots. If this is true, there must be dozens of criminals and terrorists who have been arrested and charged with crimes. Who are they, and where are they imprisoned? What is the status of their criminal trials? I understand that the NSA plans to present “classified evidence” to Congress. Why classified? If attacks were prevented, isn’t the specific threat ended?

BERNIE H. BEAVER, Edina

Is Snowden hero or traitor?

It occurs to me that Edward Snowden must have an enormous ego. He seems to think that he and he alone can save us Americans from ourselves.

KATHLEEN CLARKE ANDERSON, Minneapolis

About those phone records …

Dear NSA,

Now that I understand that my government has all the information about its citizens’ cellphone use, I am greatly relieved. I am writing you concerning the whereabouts of an old Nokia I lost last year on a BWCA canoe trip. Also, our son has been seeing a girl we have repeatedly told him not to talk to. He knows very well that we will ground him if he continues the relationship. Please send us his phone records for the period from Feb. 24, 2012, to the present. Oh, and knowing that you feds are on the job, please, oh please, arrest the telemarketers plaguing us night and day about our credit card debt. We don’t have credit card debt, as you probably know.

Terry Faust, Minneapolis