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Wednesday, Jun 19 2013 11:07 PM

CRAIG BASDEN: NSA can't read every email; agency knows how to filter

Who can intelligently say Edward Snowden is a hero or a traitor? Norm Haughness's June 14 Community Voices article, "Is Snowden a traitor? Hardly," labels Snowden a courageous public servant. I am compelled to wait and see because we have not (nor will be) given the complete story.

Yes, he revealed government chicanery. Unfortunately, this spying situation alerted our enemies also. Does Haughness have access to the quantity of foiled plots and lives saved from terrorism prevented by this spying? Does he believe none exist because the media haven't told us otherwise?

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. We must know who our enemies are. Some don't believe that socially profiling suspects is fair, so instead of watching the emails of, for example, the 300,000 Middle East students in this country on expired visas, what else can the NSA do? Watch everybody!

This is written not out of hysteria but perhaps from a common sense approach on NSA processes. When I was in the Army Security Agency in the early 1970s I passed coded messages to the NSA when they couldn't be broken on site. The NSA computers were so fast usually the deciphered message was being received back before the coded message was completely sent. Hopefully, this same focus is in use today to combat our enemies.

Emails void of words such as bomb, explosion, jihad, any type of coded wording, or myriad other terrorist terminology are largely ignored. When key words are recognized they link to computers that track any covert communication using well-grounded parameters to identify danger. Anything more detailed would not be possible. How could a kazillion emails be read every day? How ridiculous.

Allow me to disarm readers' antipathy towards the NSA. The NSA doesn't care what you write because you are not a threat. It's true. It has no data bank of your opinions.

How can the government approve or disapprove of what is written in emails? Let's agree this is a privacy issue. However, free speech is not part of that debate. Can it be elaborated on how the government studies then determines what is an acceptable opinion? No. That would be un-American.

Besides, the job of thought police is not performed directly by the government. The media does this work for them when a Democrat is president. Otherwise all they say is impeach, impeach, impeach.

Some believe Hitler's success was a direct result of monitoring what the German people said and wrote to each other.

How absurd.

In reality their government-sanctioned propaganda, labeled as news, caused his success by telling lies to influence what they said and wrote to each other. They ignored reality at a most crucial time in history. Does any of this sound familiar?

Haughness gives Snowden kudos for his revelations and mentioned that this shared thought took place on CurrentTV. CurrentTV is owned by Al-Jazeera. I trust Haughness. I am almost sure Al-Jazeera has no agenda or conflict of interest on this subject, especially since its name and the term "enemy combatant" have been used in the same sentence by certain news sources.

Unwarranted blame for this spying scandal has been placed on Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as if they personally crafted the protocols and directed the conduct of operations at the NSA. What a naive mindset. This could not be further from the truth. The NSA is a standalone agency with an unknown budget. Oversight is accomplished by Congress lead by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. I would surmise that the vast bulk of federal officials has no idea what the NSA does. It doesn't matter how many whistleblowing media seekers talk -- nothing is going to change that. My NSA friends and I like it like that.

What part of secret don't we understand? Can I get another amen?

Craig Basden of Bakersfield is a truck driver concerned about taxes and the environment. Another View presents a critical response to a previous editorial, column or news story.

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