Security vs. civil liberties debate continues

Phone record collection stirs fervent debate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Debate continues about the discovery that America is spying on other Americans. Two publications report the National Security Agency asked for, and received, court orders to gather information from cell phone calls and from emails.

President Barack Obama said on Friday, however, that you shouldn't be worried.

"What the intelligence community is doing, is looking at phone numbers and durations of the call, not names, and they're not looking at content," Obama said.

Obama acknowledged the government collects phone records. He called it classified, not secret – but your representatives on Capitol Hill are briefed.

But, three years before he became president, Senator Obama criticized the practice.

"We don't have to settle for a Patriot Act that sacrifices our liberties or our safety," Obama said in Dec. 2005. "We can have one that secures both."

Former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg said she wasn't surprised.

"What I think is shocking to America public, on another level, is the sheer extent of it," said Soderberg.

Soderberg's view of what's happening through the NSA includes a need for more communication from the top.

"The Administration may need to do a little more explaining in public," Soderberg said. "I think Congress has to stand up and defend this as well. They are the ones who've been briefed on this over the many, many years."

Jacksonville's long time member of Congress is already defending his votes for the Patriot Act and FISA.

Ander Crenshaw said in this statement:

"The number one responsibility of the federal government is to protect its American lives. I have consistently fought and will continue to ensure our nation has every possible tool to keep us safe from terrorist threats, including surveillance technology that allows our military to monitor foreign enemies while protecting the civil liberties of American citizens."

The group defending civil liberties, objects. The ACLU sent Channel 4 this statement:

"From a civil liberties perspective, the program could hardly be any more alarming. It's a program in which some untold number of innocent people have been put under the constant surveillance of government agents. It is beyond Orwellian, and it provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies."

After the Boston Marathon bombings two months ago, CNN polled Americans about security versus privacy. Forty percent said they would give up some of the civil liberties to fight terrorism, but almost half said, "No way."

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