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NSA Data Collection Is Legal–and Smart

Given the IRS and Benghazi scandals, there is a natural tendency on the part of many Americans, conservatives especially, to be outraged at news disclosed by the Guardian that the government is able to collect records on large numbers of phone calls. This is a tendency best resisted.

The news that has come out today makes clear that this is a perfectly legal, if secret, undertaking which has been authorized by the Patriot Act, briefed to Congress, and undertaken via judicial order. This does not allow the government to listen in to communications indiscriminately but, apparently, to do data mining to look for suspicious patterns.

That is precisely what the government should be doing to keep us safe from terrorism–which, as recent attacks in Boston and London show, remains a potent threat notwithstanding the demise of Osama bin Laden. The Obama administration should be praised for continuing this Bush-era initiative rather than pilloried for Big Brother tactics. The only outrage here is that the Guardian has disclosed such a highly classified program.



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