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October 25th, 2013
07:30 PM ET

Does the NSA thwart terrorist attacks?

Whistleblower Jesselyn Radack argues Sen. Feinstein is 'misleading' in saying NSA programs have saved American lives.

Related: Can anyone keep a secret anymore?!
CNN's S.E. Cupp poses the notion, in light of the snooping and leaking of information, there are no real secrets anymore.

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Filed under: Debates • Jesselyn Radack • NSA leak • S.E. Cupp • Stephanie Cutter • Tommy Vietor
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Tekkie

    Many comments just dong' get it.. Presently there are no rights or rule of law protection to individuals under US Constitution. Brand anyone a terrorist, and they won't see daylight, attorney or family (Patriot Act). The NSA is not only reading your email but installing cookies on your computer.. In future, they will create a Security chip and put it in every tablet or IPad to locate and monitor you. Microsoft is steering everyone into tablets, or Ipads to there will be no access to internal software controls. In closing, Obama care sign-up is another control tool having everyone sign up through government site. It is another way to do a census and obtain monies (tax). Controlling min. wage controls service industry employment without raising food and other costs.. You're looking at the bright hubcaps and not the bald tires.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:56 am | Reply
  2. Ariel

    It's not spying if the brainless public is told over and over that it isn't. That is.,... as the media is used to tell people how they are supposed to act and feel about things. The constitution says one thing and the PAID reporters says its ok to violate the constitution. After hearing the same repeat messages by reporters (who do nothing but support anything that Obama does – no matter how outrageous and illegal) the mindless public get on board. Its sad and amazing what the mindless public buys into. . It goes to show what owning the media really means and how it can be used as a tool to do any bidding and to control much of the direction of the US. Meanwhile, real news stories like a white guy who gets left for dead by a black mod gets no air time; because it doesn't suit the Obama message. In my opinion, Obama has been the most dishonest president ever to fill the position and is far worse than anything Nixon ever did. It's just too bad people can't think for themselves and to unite and cry foul on all the lies and false promises. To me there are numerous reasons we should impeach this president who hide behind the homeland security issues.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:47 am | Reply
  3. Mary Pryor

    Ask yourself, how "mentally disturbed" individuals are able to walk into high security buildings and sites without detection. Ask yourself why the increase in surveillance and security cameras in public places coincide with increase in public shootings. Is the money being spent to make US citizens safe or terrorize the public to make them complacent and accept more controls which equals the lost of our freedom.

    November 4, 2013 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • Durundal

      are you seriously going to sit there with a straight face and tell me how you expect our government to look out for the well being of its citizens (but not pay them too because that would be too big-government ish). Grow up and stop trying to make the world around you into some cloak and dagger fantasy. The reality is you just arent that interesting to government anyway.

      November 5, 2013 at 10:26 am | Reply
      • Soe Naing

        No, I am not interesting to government now. But the point here is that I could quickly become one. Obama is purging the military and also purging the security agencies and stacking them with his people. Not just at the top layer, but also at the middle ranks (who would eventually become leaders someday, or who would become untouchable long-lasting bureaucrats who make up the 4th branch of government). With NSA having ALL my information in its drag-net efforts, and who knows what Obama's hand-picked people would do to anyone who did not agree with them? You don't have to look far. Just look at IRS and Tea Party groups. Obama's minions illegally shared protected info to both prate groups and other government agencies.

        November 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  4. mazen

    american should not to think like an angel ,,,the leaders which exposed to the surveillance system ,,, or spy they did worse but the difference is they do not have snowden , its a part of national security but a man like snowden should not be accepted as asset or agent of any security apparatus ,, please american security apparatuses have to be available for a good american exclusively

    November 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  5. mazen

    i think we are overacting ,,, because if we have nothing bad why we have to be worry about surveillance ,, all countries spay on usa ,,,, china france etc ,,,, but they are trying to blackmail us now ,,, i think in this time ,,, cia ,, and all security apparatuses need to gather information to protect the country and citizens ,,, i am muslim and dont feel bad about that because i am sure it will protect me and protect others either ,,,and when i have nothing to hide why i feel bad if the gov does its duties !!!!! may be you will disagree but that because you do not know how hard to stop terrorists ,,, they need an eyes which never sleep

    November 2, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  6. Get Overit

    If you are overly concerned with the NSA surveillance.
    you're likely,
    a. a criminal
    b. ashamed of what you're involved in.
    c. prone to illusions of grandeur. (thinking the nsa is actually interested in your daily activities)

    October 30, 2013 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • AB

      to say that being worried about the NSA surveillance means i must either be a criminal (or a deviant in general) or have delusions (not illusions) of grandeur is quite arrogant. I can assure you i'm neither. But just because I have nothing to hide does not mean that I agree with what the NSA is doing by gathering 'intelligence' on us citizens. The fourth amendment of the constitution GUARANTEES that my privacy is secured. The fourth amendment reads:

      "The right of the people to be secure in their PERSONS, HOUSES, PAPERS, and EFFECTS, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

      By gathering ANY so called 'intelligence' on US citizens who have not done anything wrong is a direct violation of this amendment, would you not agree? I'm not concerned with what information they may discover about me, but the bigger question of WHY ARE THEY GATHERING INTELLIGENCE ON CITIZENS IN THE FIRST PLACE? in case they find something interesting? Well, wether you like it or not, that is NOT how things are supposed to work in this country. You have certain rights as dictated by the constitution and NOBODY (and that literally means NOBODY) can violate your rights for any reason!!! Today they search through your phone calls and Facebook, who knows what they'll decide to do tomorrow. Now theres no way for me to prove that things will get worse and that our rights will continue to be trampled upon, but as a citizen of this country who knows their rights, i'm starting to get a little concerned with the direction our country is heading.
      As of now, i've only been talking about the fourth amendment, but what about our right to bear arms? This is another issue in which the line has begun to blur on what can and cannot be done. All the time lately, what you hear is gun control, gun control...what we need is gun control. Well you see, if you take away guns and make them illegal (which means you'd have to repeal the 2nd amendment) who is left unarmed...everybody? or law abiding citizens? it seems to me that drugs are illegal, but the people who really want those drugs don't seem to have any hard times getting them whenever they want....who's to say guns will be any different. i sometimes get the feeling that theres some hidden 'push' to get rid of guns in this country (i don't know why but sometimes i just get that feeling by the way you hear things on the news and in speeches made by various officials.). For example, there have been a large number of gun related incidents in national news all year long (from the colorado theatre to schools to the navy yard) and every time this happens, what you hear is how guns are the problem (personally i've never seen a gun load, point, and shoot itself...)but they always seem to fail to discuss how there is a reasonable underlying issue. For instance, the suspect of the navy yard shooting had a documented history of mental health issues (he was treated for over a month earlier for hearing voices in his head as well as paranoia and sleep disorders by the Veterans Association) but clearly, its the gun that was the issue in that case (If we put as much effort into helping those with mental disorders or other potential triggers for violent outbreaks as we do in ' gun control', we may start to see some improvement....just a thought). And Aaron Alexis is not the only one who had a documented history of mental illness...the colorado theater suspect is another good example, but again, it seems that everybody points the finger at the guns. (i'm not saying that it has to be a hidden agenda to get rid of guns..i just hope that those who run the gov't aren't dumb enough to think that guns are why people have gone on shooting rampages. after all, there are easily tens of thousands of americans who have guns and will never use them for any illegal purpose or any way in which they will cause harm to anyone...if guns are the problem, then why are they not out shooting people?)

      October 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
      • Yay Spying

        It's not intelligence, it's data. It only becomes intel when it's used to inform some follow on decision. Until then it's a couple hundred kBs amongst hundreds of TBs that no one in the gov't has time nor interest in trolling through to look for political dissidents or whatever silly self-serving fear so many people have. I agree it's hard to forget the classic Hollywood vision of the G-man in the fedora with a large headphone pressed to his hear listening to the liberal businessman and going, "ahhh, this is juicy, won't the boss be interested to know Mr. Smith is diddling his secretary!" Technology has turned intelligence gathering on its head (as it has a lot of things) but we need to deconflict the expectation of all the time connectivity with complete privacy. It's not 100% compatible- sorry!

        November 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • AB

        i'm well aware of the fact that all this surveillance is nothing more than the moment. There is (allegedly, though probably true) not enough man or computer power to analyze every shred of it. But as i've said before, i'm not personally worried about any intel they may gather about me as i'm not doing anything i need to hide. What worries me is WHY OUR GOVERNMENT IS DOING THIS!!!! As im sure you know, ALL laws in this country MUST ABIDE TO THE is the very backbone of our legal system (at least its supposed to be). So if the constitution protects me against ANY unreasonable search or seizure of any property, information, etc that i have, how can the government gather 'data' on us citizens. The fourth amendment only allows search/seizure of SPECIFIC things...they must have a warrant backed by probable cause/reasonable suspicion which CLEARLY DICTATES what they intend to search for/find. As far as i'm aware, PRISM has not complied with this amendment fully (or even at all), which leads me to wonder why the government has not followed its own guidelines? If one part of the constitution can be circumvented at will, why should any of it apply? You cant just throw out a law because you think what you're doing is may be true that what they're doing is justified, but it does not mean that what they're doing is right. That is not how our system works. I'll give an example of something more recent.
        The affordable care act (aka Obamacare) is an issue which has really divided our congress...on one hand, you have those who support it fiercely and on the other, those who oppose it with equal ferocity. The initiation of obamacare sparked the government shutdown this year (whether you consider it was the only issue or one of many is irrelevant, its known that obamacare is one of the bigger reasons the shutdown took place). While the reasons that our congress created this stalemate where legitimate or even best, you cannot shutdown the government because you feel that a bill which PASSED is bad for the country. There is a process in this country, and we must follow ALL of them to the letter. (the affordable care act passed through all the branches of the government and was PASSED. If you don't like it, there is a certain procedure in which you can amend or even revoke it, but you cant just shoot down every budget proposal and hold the economy 'hostage' because you think obamacare is evil.) If we don't like it, we can place in motion ways to change them, but we cant just throw them out because we don't like it. The same concept applies to the fourth amendment. If as a society, we feel that gathering this data without a warrant or cause is justified and necessary, there are LEGAL ways to implement such a rule, but this did not happen. Our government, on its own, decided whats best for all of us... and had Snowden not revealed anything, we may not have found out for quite some time. So why did this happen? Why were we not informed that this was taking place? Our government is well documented with cases of it doing things which are....questionable, to say the least. I encourage you to look into some of them.

        Operation Northwoods is one particularly well documented case of our government doing what it wants (although thankfully, president Kennedy prevented this from happening). To make a long story short, basically what happened was this.

        Several high ranking military officials and bureaucrats created a 'false flag' proposal on how to justify a war against cuba. The plan was to have the CIA (or other government entities) to engage in "terrorist" attacks against US CITIES, then blame the attacks on Cuba in order to stir up public anger and get support for a full scale invasion of cuba. Now you could argue that invading Cuba would be beneficial to stability in the region or whatever else you want to say to justify this plan, but the bottom line is that it is ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL!!

        We cannot continue to keep this double-standard of some people have to follow some laws.....all laws MUST apply to everyone...every man, woman, business, government, etc. If you want to be a part of this country, you must abide by its rules. If you say its justified to spy on americans without probable cause, then you should push to change the laws which protect americans against it. But as of yet, no change to the constitution gave our government any right to spy on us w/o cause, so as far as i'm concerned (whether its for good or for evil) our government and PRISM are breaking the law!!!

        November 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  7. mynameisjosejimenez

    Nope, e.g. Boston Marathon Bombing.

    October 30, 2013 at 12:51 am | Reply
  8. algorelies is like setting a fire out in the woods and returning a few minutes later with the forest service to put it out.
    You then announce that it is forest fire season and you manage to keep your job for the rest of the year.
    Next spring, repeat.

    October 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  9. Art

    The only way to find if the NSA is effective is to shut them down and let the chips fall where they may. If America get's attacked again, you'll just have to suck it up and "hope and pray" (because we all know how effective hope and prayer are with regard to terrorism) it doesn't happen again. Trust me, you'll get used to getting attacked Israel has been in a constant state of war for decades. You won't even notice it after a while. Well if you die, you'll notice, but it'll be a brief highlight in your life as death will come pretty quickly after having your head blown off. And since most of you Americans have guns, you can spend your free time hunting the terrorists yourselves. I mean isn't America the original "Bootstraps Nation" as it were? You don't need the govt, to protect you from enemies foreign or domestic. God has your back. Right America?

    And while you're at it America, why not just become a REAL "Christian Nation" and create concentration camps for all non-Christians, minorities, and women. Become a straight-up theocracy. (It works so well in Saudi Arabia) Screw The Constitution. The Bible is much better. And so well written w/o a hint of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, or irony. And it's messages are so clear and not contradictory. And be sure to reinstate slavery. Because it's a wonderfully stable economic system that doesn't waste any human resources. Slavery is a system Jesus would approve of for sure.

    Oh America, you can do so much better than the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. Just let God take the wheel.

    October 28, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • McShannon

      Intelligence gathering I would expect requires software that listens for key words and is indiscriminate about who is doing the talking if you say bomb, kill or other words that indicate you may have interest in foul play you will be a target as this is not normal conversation.
      However we would all expect that heads of state would be exempted out of courtesy of continuing friendship. Our interest in preventing a tragedy anywhere in the world concerning terrorist activity has become an obsession and our vigilance overwhelming. I am not complaining though as I know we are not invincible.

      October 29, 2013 at 9:51 am | Reply
      • AB

        if all that the NSA does is listen for 'key words' to identify potential 'threats', then the system is far worse than i thought. If this is the case, all one needs to do is to use even the simplest of code words to disguise their actions and slip silently under the radar. At the end of the day, no matter what you do to try and 'protect' this country, there will ALWAYS be those who wish to destroy us and who will take all of these "security" measures not as a deterrent, but as a challenge. As such, I think its completely idiotic for those of us who are in a position of power in this countryto continue to strip away American freedoms and American rights for a false sense of security. The fact of the matter is that even with all the NSA SPYING on AMERICANS, there have still been a significant amount of terrorist activities that have taken place (whether or not the gov't wants to call the Boston marathon bombing, the shooting at fort hood, or the navy yard shooting acts of 'terrorism' or not doesn't change the fact that it IS an act of terrorism....terrorism is simply the actions taken by a person/group that aims to instill FEAR/TERROR in those people which the have chosen to attack). You need to ask yourself, do any of these programs (such as PRISM) really make our country safe, or do they just provide us with a false sense of security. If your answer was, "yes, it makes us safer", you should really look into the number of terrorist plots that have been foiled vs. the number that have taken place on american soil....but in addition to that, think about this... is it really worth giving up your rights granted to you by the fourth amendment? ("The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.") And if these secret surveillance programs have nothing to hide and are not doing anything 'suspicious', why is it that our government enacted them in such secrecy? Why did these measures not appear on my ballot so i could vote on them? Is it because the public is incapable of making such decisions and so its better that our 'leaders' make these decisions without us behind closed doors? Well if that's the case, then we must stop pretending that we are a democratic nation, for this is not the way a democracy works. I want to leave you with an excerpt from a famous document that you've all no doubt heard of, but likely have never read...the declaration of independence:

        "...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –THAT WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE TO THESE ENDS, IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE NEW GOVERNMENT, LAYING ITS FOUNDATIONS ON SUCH PRINCIPLES AND ORGANIZING ITS POWERS IN SUCH FORM, AS TO THEM SHALL SEEM MOST LIKELY TO EFFECT THEIR SAFETY AND HAPPINESS. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, THAT MANKIND ARE MORE DISPOSED TO SUFFER, WHILE EVILS ARE SUFFERABLE, THAN TO RIGHT THEMSELVES BY ABOLISHING THE FORMS TO WHICH THEY ARE ACCUSTOMED. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..."

        and please, think about what those capitalized statements say, and then if you believe that they can be applied today. I believe that it does. We all sit here and know that we are being screwed and rather than standing up for our beliefs, we continue on with our lives, making justifications and excuses as to why these evils are necessary and how its all for the 'greater good', well knowing that its all a lie. But we are all to cofmortable with our lives as they are, and dont want to 'rock the boat' in fear of losing this this what the american dream has become? a mere playground for the powerful? (and dont even get me started on how companies like google hide billions of dollars in tax revenue from our gov't while the rest of us get audited over $100. GOOGLE "MOVED" $10 BILLION, EQUALING $2 BILLION THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID IN TAXES AND GOT AWAY WITH IT!!!! MEANWHILE, OUR MILITARY BUDGET WAS CUT BY $2 BILLION!!! THAT MEANS IF GOOGLE...NOT TO MENTION THE OTHER COMPANIES THAT DO THIS....WOULD HAVE PAID THEIR SHARE OF TAXES, WE WOULDN'T HAVE TO CUT THAT BUDGET...OR ANY BUDGET FOR THAT MATTER. A MAJORITY OF OUR GOVERNMENTS REVENUE COMES FROM TAXES!!! YET THEY LET $2 BILLION DOLLARS SLIP AWAY FROM THEM!!! ITS TIME FOR A COMPLETE GOVERNMENT OVERHAUL!)

        October 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Nasty Nate

    The NSA are terorists I know because I have Truman Show Syndrome which is a sick joke because the movie was made as propaganda to make cause stalking appear far fetched. So is The Game with Micheal Douglas, Cabin in the the Woods with Christopher Hemsworth, A Beautiful Mind with Russel Crowe, etc...

    October 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  11. Status Quo

    Which of you works in the intel community, and can thus speak with such surety?

    October 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  12. mynameisjosejimenez

    Does the NSA stop attacks? Not really, but politicians are too scared to take a chance. So billions of dollars are wasted every year without really make much of a difference. The Boston Marathon clearly points out these efforts are ineffective.

    October 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  13. Mr. M

    Anyone that thinks the NSA is anything else but a mechanism to keep the oligarchs in power needs to be committed.

    October 25, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Reply
    • mynameisjosejimenez

      They are committed.

      October 30, 2013 at 12:52 am | Reply
  14. mynameisjosejimenez

    Feinstein, JINO, don't mess with her she packs heat.

    October 25, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Reply

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