GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

August 17, 2013

Letter: Just whose rights are we protecting?

To the editor:

I have been considering the treatment and trial of PFC Bradley Manning and the current tribulations of Edward Snowden.

The Army introduced me to the concept of classifying documents. Reasons of embarrassment were forbidden as justification and most other reasons were expected to have a short time of privilege.

A trivial example that was top secret in May and June 1944 was the number of rolls of toilet paper being held by quartermasters and on order by the Allied Military Forces in Great Britain. Now, who cares? The invasion is long over. The number of rolls of TP indirectly suggested the number of personnel who might attack. Is it still classified?

From what I have read in past years, more than a few of our diplomats have had low opinions of the country in which they served and the peoples they were sent to talk with. Did it matter they were unable to speak the national language?

Bradley Manning revealed we had flawed ambassadors in current time, and from Edward Snowden we learn that the agency, NSA, which once denied its existence to Congress, now assures us it does not read all electronic transmissions via email and phone — even when it has been exposed as doing both with the complicity of an invisible court chartered by the Foreign International Surveillance Act.

The 11 court members are appointed by the Supreme Court Chief Justice with no oversight and no required approval. Just to ask a rude question or so; what are their names? are there any qualifications beyond being picked by Justice Roberts? We don’t know.

In a democracy, we dare not accept this if we hope to retain our rights and our freedom. This mishmash of rights and claims of lawful intrusions is complex and not easily resolved. It is resolvable, however, to demand easy visibility and clear explanations.

No government that claims to be a democracy will attack its citizens just because it can or thinks it should.

Those who disagree should look to our current example from Egypt as they also consider Palestine, Israel, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These examples are but a paltry list of offenders.

ARTHUR THOMAS

Gloucester

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