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Saturday, November 1, 2014

We shouldn't put national security in the hands of contractors

After more than six months of investigations and controversy surrounding U.S. surveillance policies, President Obama delivered highly anticipated remarks that addressed the issue with the intention of restoring trust in the federal government and, more specifically, the National Security Agency.

You’ll recall that the controversy began after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked an abundance of classified documents. Snowden’s leaks showed that the government routinely collected the phone records of American citizens for possible use in tracking terrorism suspects.

This raised the public’s suspicion that the federal government was spying on them. It didn’t help that the Obama administration handled the leaks horribly and continued to mislead Americans, denying that the surveillance ever occurred.

Well, the president’s speech didn’t make me feel any safer. In fact, if anything, it was disturbing. He acknowledged that high-tech surveillance does pose a threat to civil liberties, but once again reiterated that “the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security.”

Obama then outlined changes, saying that he would require court approval each time an agency analyst requested access to calling records, except in emergencies. He also stated that he intends to remove the government from the business of collecting Americans’ calling data and give it to a tech or phone company.

This is a ludicrous idea. Why would the president think it would be good to have private contractors collect and hold what could be potentially dangerous national security data? Do we really think a private contractor is better at this sort of task than the NSA or FBI?

Let’s not forget that Snowden got clearance through an outside contractor. This shows how dangerous it is to let an outside company have a role in our national security. And the president is actually considering using a private contractor to store the data once it is collected. That’s ridiculous.

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