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As long as personal info isn’t abused, it’s OK for gov’t to snoop

Monday, June 24, 2013
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As long as personal info isn’t abused, it’s OK for gov’t to snoop

Living as we do under constant threat of mass death by subterfuge, and in an era of Big Data, it is not surprising to me that the government is collecting data that helps them separate normal human activity from that which is subversive and dangerous.

A president is rightly held responsible by the people for seeing that everything reasonable is done to protect the country from surprise attack.

I have long felt that President Bush escaped accountability for his failure to take seriously the briefings he received that a major attack was planned using airplanes. In that case, President Bush didn’t even pick up the phone to inquire further into what was being done by federal agencies to correlate the dire warnings he was receiving.

“Well, I guess you’ve covered your butt now,” Bush’s response to the CIA briefer, is not acceptable from a president who takes seriously his responsibilities for national security. But that was then and Bush escaped by resorting to “tough guy” talk with bullhorn in hand.

President Obama understands that he would be issued no such pass if a major attack occurred on his watch. I am confident that, at this stage, the data is being used appropriately to detect patterns and connections that raise red flags.

The amount of data is so vast that I have no fear someone is listening in on some embarrassing conversation I may be having on the phone or over the internet.

The possibility that some future president or “J. Edgar Hoover”-type may abuse the system is a real threat that must be taken seriously. Such an improper program would require many co-conspirators and the risk of a whistleblower would, I hope, provide an effective deterrent to any Nixonian activity.

If and when the government is discovered using the data for some improper purpose, I expect that the consequences would be swift and severe.

Richard Alvarez

Schenectady

What’s behind delay in state tax refunds?

I am writing to add to Dianne Chagnon Burns’ June 14 letter concerning her late refund from the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

It has been over four months since I submitted my state return by mail, and yet my return’s status is still not listed in the tax department’s online status web page.

When I called the “New York Tax Help” line in mid-May and in early June, I was told my return was “in process,” but that they are having delays posting status online for paper returns and delays issuing refunds.

Last week I filled out and faxed to the department a “Request for Assistance from the Office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate,” and have not yet been contacted.

Since June 1, my refund is accruing 2 percent annual interest, to be paid by the state. This is not a good use of taxpayers’ money.

I think there is a bigger story here that should be investigated. I’m betting it’s not just me and Ms. Burns having this issue. Why, unlike all other years I’m aware of, is New York so late returning taxpayers’ money?

Guy Spiers

Niskayuna

Cuomo used abortion to buy women’s vote

Ain’t America great?

“Prince” Cuomo, in an attempt to become “His Supreme Excellency” Cuomo in the next presidential election, is trying to win more of the liberal women’s vote under the guise of women’s rights by attempting to liberalize state abortion laws.

And we get opinions to the editor worrying about snapping turtles

[June 18 Gazette]? Why not get a life and worry about human beings being killed?

Bob Nicolella

Scotia

 
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comments

June 24, 2013
6:44 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Richard Alvarez, You seem to forget that Bill Clinton was briefed on Osama and refused to take him out on multiple occasions. So what you are saying is that the police can stop and search you for no reason, they also can go into your home and look around without a warrant and they can read all of your text, emails and listen to your most private phone conversations. Ben Franklyn said that "When we give up freedom for liberty, we will have neither".

June 24, 2013
6:47 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

Well Richard its amazing how you pretend to speak about Bush as though you were part of the inner circle. Lets all except what you say as a fact since after all you are a liberal. It is amazing however that you seriously believe a liberal media gave Bush a pass and would never do any such thing for Obama. Simply amazing.

June 24, 2013
8:19 a.m.
tonijean613 says...

The people who have the mentality that you have nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide- are clearly not thinking that this now completely reverses the "notion" that you are innocent until proven guilty in this country- This wipes out everything this country stands for and confirms our own govt cannot be trusted. Period. Putting serious crimes aside for a brief moment- are all of you who think this is no big deal or nothing to hide even considering the fact that people who are just curious or doing simple research on a controversial topic (example drugs) can now be viewed as someone to track just bec you googled it or emailed some articles or information on the topic? or what if you have happen to be walking down a street talking on your cell near a drug deal going on - you are now placed in that vacinity and can come under question simply bec they are tracking locations of cell phones. Or what about domestic violence victims who have moved and are trying to remain anonymous from their former abusers? what if those abusers work for the govt? Are you even thinking about the endless ways you can now be easily placed under scrutiny and linked to criminal activity of a relative, boss, coworker, neighbor, doctor, friend, church, bank, etc just because you exchange emails with them? Or perhaps rejected for a govt job bec of what you have googled out of curiousity? This is really bad and the complete opposite what is the meaning of a free and open society. To criminalize or label people as threats for what they google or who they email is beyond insane. You personally may feel you have nothing to worry about- but do really know what your children are googling out of curiousity or the friends they are "connected" to are googling? Do you really want to live in that type of society?

June 24, 2013
8:59 a.m.
justapto says...

"The best government if No government" Henry David T. Now we have people who want the government to be 'Big Brother' and gladly give over all their rights.
Thank goodness '1984' is still in some of our minds.

June 24, 2013
12:41 p.m.
Fritzdawg says...

Richard Alvarez:
Do you have window shades? If so, why?
You have nothing to hide.

Can I see your credit-card bills for the last year?
Why not?
It's not about having anything to hide, it's about things not being anyone else's business, and I don't need to justify my position. You need to justify yours.
I don't have anything to hide, but I don't have anything I feel like showing you, either, so come back with a warrant, or go away.
Maybe if the government was MINDING THEIR OWN BUSINESS, instead of ours, this country wouldn't be so screwed up.

June 25, 2013
7:47 a.m.
gina99 says...

The Obama apologists are getting more and more desperate. Obama lied about wiretaps, lied about spying on reporters and had an enemy's list. Deal with it. Richard Alvarez will say anything to protect violations of our God given rights. \

June 25, 2013
9:48 a.m.
Ahmjrcpa1 says...

I am encouraged by the comments re Richard Alvarez--He thinks the idiots in the govt will do the "right thing"? --Really?--How stupid can anyone be!--But then again the electorate keep sending idiots back to office

June 28, 2013
10:24 p.m.
bobsemp says...

Our elected officials are sworn to uphold the Constitution. Instead, they are destroying it, supposedly to "protect us". Boston proves the US government continues to be inept in doing so, and people such as Mr. Alverez are enabling them to continue to destroy this country by vacating the constitution. Mr. Alverez, you may be OK with big brother Government snooping into every facet of your life, but until such time as the Constitution is re-written to exclude it, I still treasure my privacy that it affords, and you should too. Millions fought and hundreds of thousands died for our country - don't let your liberal mindset make all those sacrifices worthless.

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