“Tear Down That Wall”

With all the talk about removing the “wall” between domestic and international intelligence systems, it seems to me that people are forgetting that the wall is there for a reason. Namely, to protect the civil rights of American citizens, to prevent the “suspension” of Constitutional protections in the name of “national security.” So the CIA, for example, is prohibited from using its extralegal surveillance methods to spy on us. Yes, such methods are often necessary in the world of international espionage (though that makes it sound more mysterious than reality would indicate), but as Americans, we are guaranteed certain protections from unreasonable searches and seizures. And it’s not like this is merely a theoretical possibility — it’s happened — that’s why the “wall” was established in the first place.

Now, have administrators gone overboard in preventing otherwise reasonable — and in most cases permissible — intelligence sharing out of fear of breaching the wall? Sure — Ashcroft being a prime example. But just as refusing any sharing of intelligence may be going too far in one direction, the de facto merger of the FBI and CIA sure sounds like overkill in the other. Am I exaggerating? God, I certainly hope so. But we cannot forget that there are certain liberties that can all too easily be trampled in our rush to “protect” ourselves.


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