Homeland Security

Calling 911

New information suggests that America's emergency response system is under enormous stress.

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The old days with the FBI

I worked closely with many FBI agents while I was a prosecutor in the Justice Department. Most were hard-working, devoted colleagues. But their boss, J. Edgar Hoover, was — as recent studies have disclosed — a very odd character.

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NSA spying must be cut back

The report of the working group advising President Obama about the future of NSA eavesdropping, along with the latest decision of a federal court that finds much of the NSA spying unconstitutional, inspires one conclusion: There should be a cutback in the overall level of NSA spying.

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The secrecy conundrum

Retired Army colonel and historian-scholar at Boston University Andrew Bacevich has an intriguing take on the current conversation about secrecy.

“Thanks to a couple of tech-savvy malcontents, anyone with access to the Internet now knows what only insiders were supposed to know," he wrote in a book review in The Washington Post recently.

Because the public doesn’t know what insiders know, we can’t know whether Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden are patriotic whistle-blowers or treasonous leakers. I speculate neither description accurately characterizes their behavior.

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To leak or not to leak

Is the now-notorious, massive leak of National Security Agency classified information by Edward Snowden an act of valuable civil disobedience for which the American public should be grateful? 

No less than the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, expressed distress to learn that the technology he helped develop was being used by the government (the National Security Agency) to invade people’s privacy. For bringing this to public attention, he considers Snowden a hero, he told The Daily Beast.  

Or is Snowden’s action a hit-and-run act by an irresponsible fugitive, a traitor, and an attention seeker at that who appropriately was indicted and is being hunted down as he traverses the world, now a veritable man without a country?

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James Clapper: Four strikes and you’re out?

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is in the extra-hot seat at the moment, what with the shocking news of the government dragnetting our phone calls and emails and Skype sessions, etc.

Calls for the President to deep-six the 72-year-old retired military officer are mounting. Clapper has not done well in trying to explain his apparent lie under oath at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last March. The exchange with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) went like this:

Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper: “No sir ... not wittingly.”

His subsequent justification of the answer, in an interview last Sunday with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, only made things worse:

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