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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 25, 2013 at 7:30 AM

Controversial surveillance tactics used by the NSA

Transparency could prevent abuse of power

A TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, at a shopping mall in Hong Kong Sunday, June 23, 2013. The former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for revealing two highly classified surveillance programs has been allowed to leave for a "third country" because a U.S. extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law, the territory's government said Sunday. [AP Photo/Vincent Yu.]

A TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, at a shopping mall in Hong Kong Sunday, June 23, 2013. The former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for revealing two highly classified surveillance programs has been allowed to leave for a “third country” because a U.S. extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law, the territory’s government said Sunday. [AP Photo/Vincent Yu.]

When the National Security Agency reviews huge masses of our personal communications, it’s dangerously naive to insist that the status quo is safe from abuse. [“Espionage charges for Snowden,” page one, June 22.]

During the 1960s and ’70s, my mother and other Seattle-area leftist political activists were the targets of government surveillance. An American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit forced revelation of the spying. My mother’s heavily redacted files were a travesty, incompetent, bigoted and contemptuous.

Technology and targets have changed, but the rationalizations are disturbingly similar. The eavesdropping machine is still run by humans capable of abuse and manipulation.

Our security agencies use secret courts, serve warrants without probable cause, and force targets to hand over everything in complete secrecy. In those circumstances, how can citizens be protected from the abuse (or far worse) that was directed against my family?

Responsible, democratic behavior from our government cannot be guaranteed without publicity. Regardless of political affiliation, we must demand adherence to transparency, due process and probable cause from police and national-security agencies.

Rainer Adkins, Seattle

0 Comments | More in Politics | Topics: due process, Edward Snowden, freedom

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