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Congress Rolls Back U.S. Spy Programs

June 4, 2015
Plain English Version
NRO is the National Reconnaissance Office. The Octopus says, "Nothing is Beyond Our Reach."

Spy satellite is launched. The emblem says NRO, the National Reconnaissance Office. The Octopus slogan, “Nothing is Beyond Our Reach.”

The United States Constitution guarantees privacy. The government has no right to spy on its citizens. There are many exceptions to the rule. But that is the rule.

Most of the time, the danger is from overseas and comes to the United States. In the 1950s, it was Communism imported from Russia. A crazed Senator from Wisconsin started a witch-hunt to find Communists in the U.S. military and Hollywood. His name was Joe McCarthy. He did not succeed, but he started a “red-scare.” To be accused was to face the loss of your job. To fail to report others might put you in jail.

After the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, terrorists became a grave threat to America. They differ from Communists in their goals. Communists wanted take over America. Terrorists want to destroy America.

In response, the American people agreed the government had to take steps. The government did not start a witch-hunt or a red-scare. Rather, it began a massive program of surveillance.

The surveillance program is now up for renewal. Many people, including conservatives and liberals, think the government is now doing too much spying on its people.

An agreement was reached between the Senate and the House of Representatives on a new law that will end bulk collection of telephone records by the government. The president has said he will sign the bill.

A senator opposing the new law said, “It weakens American security. It takes one more tool from our war fighters at the wrong time.”

Edward Snowden was a contractor for the National Security Agency. He told the public that the government was spying on Americans. Some say he is a whistle blower and a hero. Others say he is a traitor who must be punished. He now lives in Russia.

No one wants to help Islamic terrorists. Will the changes in the new law aid terrorists? Did the program pose a danger to the civil liberties of Americans?

There are good people on both sides of the questions.

Source: The Washington Post June 2, 2015

 

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