June 15, 2014
Ever since the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, maintaining a proper balance between personal privacy and national security often has required the dexterity, tenacity and agility of a skillful high-wire artist.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the United States too often tiptoed too far on the side of overzealous contraction of personal-privacy rights as a gut-level response to the colossal carnage in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania wrought by evil terrorists. The troubling movement toward repression surfaced most visibly in the original version of the USA Patriot Act of 2001…. The act later was revised to eliminate wholesale warrantless searches of information on virtually any and all Americans.
But as documents released by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden revealed last year, the hijacking of our civil liberties has continued, albeit surreptitiously and sleazily by functionaries at NSA….
In an effort to rein in such excesses, the U.S. House of Representatives drafted, debated and last month passed the USA Freedom Act on a strong bipartisan 303-121 vote. The bill contains several promising and praiseworthy protections of civil liberties….
To be sure, the balancing act in preserving Americans’ constitutional freedoms in the face of clear and present dangers from global terrorist groups requires that our government have effective tools to monitor threats. It does not, however, require excessively elevated and tightened clamps that could send our most-treasured First Amendment protections tumbling toward oblivion.
— The (Youngstown) Vindicator