January 23rd, 2014
08:49 AM ET

The case for snooping

By Fareed Zakaria

It's not always true that if you're under attack from both sides of the political spectrum, you're probably doing the right thing. The smart or moral course is sometimes resolutely partisan. But watching President Obama take flak from the left and the right for his speech on intelligence reform, I believe he's striking a difficult balance on a crucial topic.

In his speech, Obama defended the essential structure of U.S. surveillance activities. He argued that the National Security Agency is not a rogue outfit, that it plays by the rules and is staffed by patriotic men and women. But in an important admission, he also made clear that after 9/11, the NSA and American intelligence efforts in general went too far. Taking advantage of its unique technological capabilities, the U.S. government did whatever it could, rarely asking whether it should. The President proposed some new checks on decisions to collect data and new constraints on how it is stored and when it can be accessed.

The speech annoyed liberals and conservatives suspicious of government overreach, but reaction from the left has been more anguished.

Read the full TIME column

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. French Intelligence

    There are not only 'both sides' of the political spectrum. Please, do not expect from the Demo.c.rats any constructive pro-American opinions, as they are more pro-j.a.p.a.n.e.s.e- oriented, and realy don't care about Americans. Quite contrary, they murdered many Americans and destroyed many American businesses (with the excuse that they want create a NEW America – that is more pro-j.a.p.a.n.e.s.e-). We in the NATO alliance need new defensive intelligence agencies, that work together: NSA, CIA, French Intelligence, BND, British Intelligence, Italian, Greece and even Turkey (NATO member).

    January 23, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
  2. JAL

    My brother recently sold his DVD collection. Probably around 200 DVD's. I see snooping like this: how many times is the word "grey" spoken in his collection? Finding the solution is not impossible, but very, very time consuming.

    January 23, 2014 at 9:19 am | Reply
  3. chrissy

    Hmmm ok going out on a limb here @ JAL, only because i dont know what kind of person your brother was. But my answer is 50....as in 50 shades of. Of course his collection may have been a different kind lol.

    January 23, 2014 at 10:19 am | Reply
  4. chrissy

    Ok now time to be sereous. After some rather lengthy, and many times, heated conversations i discovered many people just dont know how they should feel about the NSA. My opinion on this Department has changed several times also! But the one thought that hasnt changed is IF the purpose is the same as it was in 1952 when it was created by the DOD, then WHY werent the 2 deadliest attacks on citizens of the US on US soil, detected and stopped? Both 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings could and shouldve been prevented! That is IF the NSA were doing what the DOD had intended when they created that department. And 60 plus years is more than ample time for them to have created a game plan. Apparantly things have changed and the initiative ISN'T to protect the citizens of the US any longer! So....WHY should the citizens continue to foot the bill with their hard earned tax dollars, on a department that really isnt functioning?

    January 23, 2014 at 10:40 am | Reply
  5. chrissy

    Sorry. Should read *serious*

    January 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Reply
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