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photo of a new york times headlinephoto of a computer program to associate people

join the discussion: What are your thoughts on this report about the clash between the post-9/11 prevention paradigm and privacy protections?  Where would you draw the line?


I must admit that entering my name and address in this entry makes me nervous.

1st All of our civil liberties are being eroded because of 9-11.2nd WTC 7 was obviously a controlled demolition? 3rd How did they wire the entire building and blow up that 47 story building in less than an hour?

4th NSPD 21 and HSPD 50 now gives the President total control of ALL branches of Gov't if another 9-11 or economic crisis hits the US.

5th Then the North American Union was signed to create the Amero. A north american monetary system that will remove all borders and erode the US as we know it.

6th The implementation of NATIONAL ID cards and FRID chips to be implanted in children for FEAR of their abduction.

Please do the research america. I like to search on YouTube and look at the short clips on the issue. I also Liked the movie ZeiGeist. It was great. Didn't agree with ALL of it.. but most of it.


Anthony Dudick
Eatontown, nj


I can't believe anyone is shocked. I have been fighting trojans, spyware, popups, and computer virus's for years.

All the information is collected by the software and sold to the highest bidder, be it the Russian mafia or foreign government. We surrender our personal computing information with every purchase. That includes links to banks stores, travel, all a clear map of your personal behavior.

The analysis has already become an art, targeting a prospective customer group is no different than filtering the data for ethnic food purchases.

Does anyone think that our lawgivers would pass up a chance to use such an abundant harvest of information?

Bubba Myers
Austin, texas


Mr. Dyer from Illinois. You make a good point. If you aren't doing anything...WHO CARES!

Here is the problem. When it comes to the Federal Government you are "Guilty until YOU prove your innocence". The money you spend, the job you lose, the personal integrity you lose is not a concern of the Federal Government.

If THEY decide you are innocent, they will simply say "you are free to go." You have no recourse. You lawyers fees and completely disrupted life is yours to take on yourself. You can't sue them. Try getting a job after the Feds have had you for suspicion.

Who cares? You will if you get taken under by The Federal Government.

Good luck, Mr. Dyer.

Doug Jones
Dayton, Ohio


PBS,You have become masters of choosing politically dividing issues and always taking the liberal side on them (immigration, war in Iraq, war on terror, etc).

It disgusts and bothers me that you can't find the decency to put on a balanced show for your viewers and you have the audacity to be so transparently one sided on the tax payers dime.

Have you no shame? Have you no intellectual honesty?

Your shows have a clear point in each of them. Bolster the liberal point of view and glorify it while ignoring any potential negative setbacks from it and demonize opposing viewpoints and refuse to even accurately depict or explain them.

Your show is a sham and leaning farther and farther to left each time I watch it. This latest show on "Spying on Americans" is right out of DNC talking points.

If you are going to put on a "news" show at least pretend you aren't being partisanhacks about.

Mark Ikez
Mokena, IL


How can anyone say that the FBI and CIA are doing their jobswhen any terrorist worth his salt can go to Mexico and enterour country?

Salem, Or


Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan tends to believe that a person's security is far more important than his liberty. On the other hand, Benjamin Franklin said that "They {who} can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

As it stands now, GWB's Justice Department has the right to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in-and-out of the United States. This is a clear departure from what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (1978) provided for. Previously, the federal government needed search warrants that were approved by a special intelligence court (FISA) to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, e-mail messages and "other" electronic communications between individuals inside the United States and people abroad.

The new law has changed the legal definition of what is considered "electronic surveillance." Under this law:

It allows the federal government to eavesdrop on our conversations without a warrant (i.e., if a person in Boston calls someone in let's say Dublin, the National Security Agency (NSA) can eavesdrop on that conversation without a warrant).

It gives the attorney general and the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review the right to eavesdrop on any of us --- at any time.

It also gives the White House greater power to force telecommunications companies to "cooperate" with its spying operations. These companies can be compelled to "cooperate" by orders from the attorney general and John Negroponte (who if I'm not mistaken is the Director of National Intelligence).

As it stands now, there are at least two constitutional questions involving how much "power" should the president have and when does this "power" violate our privacy rights as provided for in the Fourth Amendment? I tend to subscribe to the ruling that was handed down by U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor on this issue when seh said that " . . . "It was never the intent of the Framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights . . . {Furthermore} the three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another . . . there are no hereditary kings in America . . . " Though her ruling was overturned, I'm of the opinion that Diggs Taylor's opinion represents the view of most Americans.

Robert Schultz
Niles, Illinois


I'd just like to make a slight correction to some of the data referenced in the program. AT&T's own wire-tapping system doesn't just siphon off 10% of the traffic in total: Due to the arrangement of their peering services over 90% of any e-mail, voice over ip and internet traffic and communication are traveling over their lines.

During any point that our data traverses the AT&T network it can be siphoned off and handed to the NSA or any other group. There is a 90% chance or more that your data is being read and processed.

David & Goliath


Thank you for this report. It just shows how confused President Bush and his fellow Republicans are about the constitution. The president does not have the legal right to just make up laws. That's what congress is for. The job of the president is to oversee enforcement of the constitution. The constitution says that we have the right to be free from unwarranted searches. It seems to me that keeping track of my phone calls and internet usage without probable cause violates this.

President Bush seems to think that we can't be safe in our country without throwing out the Bill of Rights. I would rather live with some risk and keep my rights. The government obviously cannot be trusted with this kind of information. They've proved this time and time again over the last decade, with communist witchhunts and blacklists, to try to stifle the counterculture of the '60s, and with Watergate.

I hope that this letter doesn't make me a target.

Sandi Hayden
Oxnard, CA


Dear Mr. Hedrick Smith,

I know it's been a while since you did this excellent report, but I was hoping you could follow up on a point raised in your interview with John Woo. Mr. Woo indicated that a principle justification for unmonitored and secret executive action is that we are in a state of war. Who is the United States in a state of war with?

I know that the media - PBS included - constantly echoes the rhetoric of the present administration by using the phrase "War on Terror," but it has ramifications now quite different from Johnson's "War on Poverty" or the later "War on Drugs." Now the term carries the weight of "War on the Third Reich," and it is not questioned by anyone, either in government or media.

Laws do change when we are in a state of war. I for one do not concede that we are in that state with such an amorphous entity as "Terror."

I would be very interested in your examination of what it means for this country now to really be at war. (This is notwithstanding the fact that we are in a war in Iraq, but it is difficult to say who we are at war with in Iraq.)

Best of luck with your and Frontline's very good and important work.

Peter Wallace
Brooklyn, NY


What many of the obviously neoconservative posters here fail to grasp is that we have systems already in place to prevent tragedies like 9/11. Did you forget that Condi Rice, then National Security Advisor, completely IGNORED the CIA memo entitled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" -- that was provided to her in the summer of 2001? Apparently you did. The memo (among others) also stated that bin Laden favored an air attack. The outgoing Clinton administration security team also tried to brief the incoming Bush security team on various threats, but they were not taken seriously.

The CIA and FBI do their jobs and do them pretty damn well without warrantless spying on US citizens. September 11 happened not because the CIA and FBI failed us, it happened because the Bush administration failed us. The rest has been a grand cover-up and Americans have bought it hook, line and sinker for political and other inexplicable reasons.

Kansas City, Mo


One issue touched on but not fully explored in this excellent and much-needed report is the possibility that enforcement agencies might use this information not only to track people who might be connected to terrorists, but to try and determine who might be a nascent terrorist. What scares me is that if I watch the wrong movies on the internet, check out the wrong library books, study under the wrong professor, and post the wrong ideas on my blog I might have my door busted in by the FBI some morning.

What we are looking at here is not only the loss of personal privacy, but the loss of personal opinion. This could easily turn, and, infering from the incredibly high walls of secrecy the executive branch has thrown up, probably already has turned into a search for thought criminals.

Can I be prosecuted for disagreeing with the actions of my government? If I oppose the war, sympathize with or at least seek to understand the motivations of the "enemy", or suspect particular government institutions of agregious violations of rights and untold violence should I be afraid to voice my view? Can I be punished for speaking out against what I view as injustice if that injustice is in power over me?

Caleb Friz
Chicago, IL


When are you sicko liberals going to get it ? We are at war with ruthless people. If the enemy utilizes the information you so happily publish I hope it's in San Francisco. I don't have anything to hide so I'm hoping the NSA listens to everything I say and watches everything I do. You and your liberal Bush hating rats are no better than traitors. I can sum up he view average middle of the road Americans view the domestic spying and your fight against Alberto Gonzoles in two words. WHO CARES !!!!!

Mike Dyer
Joliet, Illinois


The program provided a clear analysis of security and how the Bush administration is handling it. In the program, you posed the question if the President was violating the law due to the Church Committee back in the '70s. I think that Mr. Bush is violating the law, and although we do need to be protected from these horrific acts, this program needs to be withdrawn. No one, including the government, should have the right to spy on the private lives of the American people.

Plainfield, IL


I must compliment Frontline for being a wonderful program, but I found "Spying On The Home Front" to be a rather biased report. The United States was founded on the idea of personal liberty. This concept gave rise to the Constitution and to the Bill of Rights. The United States government is often painted as a nameless and faceless entity that seeks to invade the privacy of its citizens. In reality, members of the FBI, NSA, CIA, and other departments and agencies have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution that guarantees those rights. Those in the law enforcement and intelligence communities are dedicated public servants that seek to bring terrorists and criminals to justice while protecting the rights of innocent Americans.

While no department or agency is perfect, the United States government takes proactive steps to protect the personal information of its citizens. Credit card companies and other private entities routinely analyze, warehouse and sell this information. If innocent American citizens have anything to fear, it is certainly not from the United States government.

San Francisco, California


Contrary to the assertion of D. Brown of Philadelphia, the job of the President is not to 'protect the United States', by reading his e-mail, listening to his phone, and watching him gamble. According to Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution, the job of the President is to "PRESERVE, PROTECT, and DEFEND the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES."

The President's primary responsibility is to protect principle above property, not the other way around. And that's why America has always been so special!

April Summers
Santa Barbara, CA


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posted may. 15, 2007

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