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US National Security Agency

America's National Security Agency (NSA) is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defence responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence. The NSA is a key component of the US Intelligence community, which is headed by the Director of National Intelligence. By law, the NSA's intelligence gathering is limited to foreign communications although there have been some incidents involving domestic collection, including the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.

CommentLetters

National Security Agency doing its job

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 4:23am

Your editorial ("US surveillance policy shows it cannot be trusted", June 12) manages to confuse the aggressive and often overreaching promotion of democracy and human rights by US governments with a perfectly legitimate programme of self-defence.

You, together with many other "shocked" activists and pundits, don't seem to understand that the nature of electronic intelligence gathering is that you have to start from the biggest possible pool of data and sift your way through it.

This is not unlike the police looking for a suspect in a large crowd; many innocent people will also be looked at, perhaps videotaped, and maybe even stopped, in the search for the right person.

Collecting logs from any possible source is precisely what I would expect the National Security Agency (NSA) to do; if they didn't, they'd be betraying their mission of collecting intelligence required to protect the American people from terrorism, and, through sharing with other similar agencies, protecting many other people around the world.

On the issue of transparency, surely you would agree it is a nation's right to defend itself, and intelligence-driven pre-emptive measures are certainly preferable to bombs killing innocent people.

It is absurd to expect a government - be it of the US, China, Russia or any other country - to be transparent about its intelligence gathering or other sensitive systems and operations; would you expect, for example, a government to release the names and locations of spies it deploys? Such "transparency" will obviously destroy the effectiveness of the operation, risk the lives of the people involved, and allow terrorists and other enemies to find ways to circumvent the intelligence efforts.

Certain aspects of national security should be openly debated in any democratic society. But oversight of the very complex and sensitive world of covert operations should be limited, as it has been, to well-briefed representatives of the public.

It is telling that not only Barack Obama, but practically all members of the intelligence committees in Congress, including liberal Democrats, have expressed support for the programme and indignation about its reckless exposure by Edward Snowden - a low-level technician who, like Julian Assange before him, made himself a judge and jury of one, deciding right from wrong based on ideology rather than knowledge and thus endangering the lives of many innocent people.

Oren Tatcher, Sheung Wan

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allandyer
So you would have no objections to, for example, a Chinese government security agency collecting data from US internet exchanges? The NSA might be doing their job, but that job happens to be illegal in every non-US country they operate in.
The scale of collection, and time of retention are also issues because they greatly increase the scope for abuse.
captam
@"Certain aspects of national security should be openly debated in any democratic society. But oversight of the very complex and sensitive world of covert operations should be limited, as it has been, to well-briefed representatives of the public."
Oh yes? That sounds very "democratic" And who selects your "well-briefed representatives"?
the sun also rises
Of course, the ruling regime in the States support the cyberspying of their people.but how about those involved we Hong Kong people in the past four years ? Our Hong Kong Internet Exchange located at Chinese Univ.in Shatin which handles all local e-communications has been secretly hacked since 2009 and even our students' computers have been hacked on the excuse of so-called national security of America and her people ! The U.S.Consulate here in Hong Kong should properly apologize to all Hongkongers for their priate acts committed against us and promise stopping any further such cyber-surveillance in the future while offer us an explanation or the extradiction of Mr.Edward Snowden is no way.Instead we will protect his safety before sending him to a third country where he chooses to go ! Of couse, formulation of new laws to curb any cyber-spying is an urgent need of Hong Kong to protect the security of our computers from being hacked by a government's secret agency !
daj888
Well said. Rather tired of all this false indignation. All countries spy and spying is a very useful and important tool of policy. Without information, you cannot make informed decisions. Governments operate in a dangerous world, made all the more so by the ability of lone actors to commit atrocities with ease. I know the NSA has no interest in me, and so as long as my elected officials are on top of this, I'm ok to let these programs stay secret. Whether these elected officials have the wisdom to use this intelligence information to make good decisions is another issue, of course.
I'm more concerned about Fbook, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc... who are not elected and do want to spy on me to understand my preferences, behavior, and spending patterns.
aplucky1
are you so naive to believe these terrorist use cell phones
and those boston bombing retards did and they had no problems
jaminhard
Nicely put!
the sun also rises
wrongly said indeed !
 
 
 
 
 

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