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Abdulmutallab Attack Proves FISA Spying Can’t Guarantee Safety

In these days of continuing Homeland Insecurity, a particular saying of Ben Franklin’s has become a potent reminder of the importance of remaining true to freedom in spite of fear: Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

A recent attempted terrorist attack shows just how little the temporary safety purchased by the surrender of essential American liberties has been. Americans were told last year that passing the FISA Amendments Act was essential, because it would expand government powers to uncover foreign plots to engage in terrorist attacks here in the USA. Never mind that the law would legalize massive government spy networks to listen in on the everyday communications of Americans, in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The FISA Amendments Act would keep us safe.

Now, with the attempted attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, it’s been discovered that the FISA Amendments Act has failed to provide an intelligence network that can guarantee American security. The FISA Amendments Act provided huge new powers to intercept foreign communications and domestic American communications alike, but the spying network still failed to detect the Abdulmutallab conspiracy. Intelligence agencies had information about a “Nigerian bomber”, but still weren’t able to identify Abdulmutallab and thwart his efforts at violence.

The FISA Amendments Act is great at gathering details about Americans’ private affairs into giant government databases. It’s not very effective at foiling terrorist attacks. American lives were saved by Abdulmutallab’s clumsy incompetence, not by the FISA Amendments Act. Given that the surveillance networks set up by the FISA Amendments Act are as incompetent at antiterrorism as Abdulmutallab is as terrorism, why can’t we just shut down Big Brother and go back to living in liberty?

7 comments to Abdulmutallab Attack Proves FISA Spying Can’t Guarantee Safety

  • Tom

    Right! But that just makes the neocons even MORE crazy and will in turn make air travel even more of a pain than it is now.

  • ramone

    fly naked. that should make us safe. for about a nano-second. suicide bombers and their organizers will be implanting explosive devices in their bodies in no time. there is no way to guarantee air safety, blame obama security measures all you want, but, end of the day, there will always be risk.
    how many attacks have been thwarted by FISA? at what cost to liberty? would the fear mongers say that one life saved is enough to justify all the added security? one plane load of passengers goes down, three plane loads go down, does it matter? take away all the tweezers and shampoo bottles and bic lighters you want there will still be some nut-job that will try to kill innocent people for some “noble” cause. record every cell phone conversation and spy on every american citizens private life and you still will not connect the dots of every plot. over 500,000 on terror watch lists! my cumputer freezes up when i try to use i-tunes and shutterfly at the same time, i can see where the dots can get pretty blurry.
    yes,let’s live and die with liberty. if you’re afraid of dying, best not get out of bed.
    newsflash: we’re all dying. it’s just a question of how and when.

  • JD

    Any viable and acceptable suggestions on how to protect the US against such attacks?

    • Any viable and acceptable suggestions on how to protect the earth against giant meteors? Any viable and acceptable suggestions on how to prevent dishonesty and shoplifting? Any viable and acceptable suggestions on how to protect children from sledding accidents? Any viable and acceptable suggestions on how to protect the US against serial killers?

      I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that bad things won’t ever happen, and then restrict everyone’s freedoms when someone tries to do something nasty.

      Life isn’t perfect. We can make it more tolerable, however, by protecting the foundations of our constitutional liberty.

      Any viable and acceptable suggestions on how to protect the US against tyranny? Yes. Follow the Constitution.

  • Yes, I did. You don’t like the answer because it doesn’t fit into your security-is-everything mindset.

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