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Act granting gov’t snooping rights was legally questionable

Monday, September 2, 2013
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Act granting gov’t snooping rights was legally questionable

Edward Snowden’s release to the public of a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order, which grants the federal government the right to collect metadata telephone records and emails on all Americans, raises significant questions about whether the FISA court that issued the order can or will significantly affect our personal privacy.

Surveillance on all Americans is totally unprecedented. But the government says it is OK to do this under FISA, which was passed by Congress in 1978, and the Patriot Act passed after 9/11.

But is this type of surveillance un-American or even unconstitutional? FISA was originally intended only to allow surveillance on hostile foreign spies and terrorists. Using it now to snoop on all Americans perverts the purpose of the original actions by Congress.

The FISA court would also appear to be legally objectionable on the grounds that it is secret and that it is difficult or impossible for the Supreme Court to review its constitutionality.

The Constitution requires that all new courts created by Congress must be subordinate to the U.S. Supreme Court. Clearly Congress does not have the power to create the new separate and equal federal court, whose decisions cannot be appealed to the Supreme Court and will take away our privacy.

George A. Mathewson

Lake George

War victim Bales didn’t deserve life sentence

On Aug. 23, a military jury sentenced Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole [Aug. 24 Gazette]. Sgt. Bales admitted to the murder of 16 civilians, including women and children.

Sgt. Bales was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan. He had been sent on a mission to allegedly assist in transforming one of the most corrupt governments in the world into a stable democracy. Living under the most stressful conditions during periods of intense heat and bitter cold in brutal terrain and among local tribes and clans who hated both their own government and the Americans that they saw as having invaded their country, he was regularly confronted by the trauma of death.

In spite of extensive training, like many of his fellow soldiers, Sgt. Bales cracked under the strain. Rather than take his own life, as too many of our soldiers have, he exploded in an act of violence against defenseless civilians.

Ignoring hundreds of years of history regarding Afghanistan, Sgt. Bales was sent into a war initiated by George Bush and doubled down by Barack Obama along with a host of other politicians. When terrible things happen in the world, the politicians in Washington demand that we send our men and women into combat, as though they live in a world of superhero comic books rather than the grim reality of what war is really about.

I must admit that I do not know what the correct action is to address Sgt. Bale’s terrible crimes, but I do know that virtually putting him in a cell and throwing away the key is wrong. It is particularly odious when you think of all the highly paid policy makers and politicians who sent him to war over and over again, and who are leading pampered lives, while he is left to rot for the rest of his life in a jail cell.

John Kaufmann

Saratoga Springs

Lawmakers, keep your hands off Social Security!

Over the past 25 years, I have been writing to the president of the United States and Washington legislators asking them to adopt legislation that will forever prohibit them from taking money from Social Security to help finance their pet projects. To date, no one has ever responded to my respectful, people-oriented request.

Over the years, past presidents and Congress have taken trillions of dollars out of the Social Security fund. If they had never touched that money, today, senior citizens would have enough money to take care of their day-to-day lives and support items such as their health care services, and increased the amount of money needed for “notch” victims.

When President Roosevelt spearheaded the approval of Social Security, he specifically said that the money would be set aside for use by America’s senior citizens. Unfortunately, in later years, presidents and Congress have ignored President Roosevelt’s promise. The money in Social Security, put in by the people and their employers, must be protected. As such, we must make a concentrated, collective effort to forever safeguard the people’s Social Security fund.

I am respectfully asking the people, local legislators and our media to write letters of support and send legislative petitions to the president and Congress, asking them to devise the much-needed legislation to forever protect the people’s Social Security fund.

By reiterating this pledge, government can assuage the fears of millions of seniors and protect the future of Social Security for generations to come.

Frank Duci

Schenectady

The writer is the former mayor.

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comments

September 2, 2013
7:03 a.m.
rjk1915 says...

Things change. What was once objectionable becomes necessary. As the level of civilization decreases, so must the level of the quality of control needed to maintain it. Sufficient knowledge of history leads to pessimism. Maybe there is no salvation.

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