What Warrantless Wiretapping Means to Me
For a good chunk of my 26 year Air Force career, I was directly involved in surveillance programs for the National Security Agency (NSA).
For decades, these programs have played a crucial role in protecting our country from its enemies and all who seek to undermine the constitutionally protected freedoms that so many brave service members have died defending--including several of my Air Force Academy classmates.
I flew missions that monitored electronic communications around the world--often with Soviet MIGs flying off my wing and hoping I'd make a wrong turn. Our standing order was "if you even suspect you are collecting data on an American citizen, you are to cease immediately, flag the tape, and bring it to a supervisor." We knew failure to comply would yield serious consequences--the kind that can end your career, or worse, land you in jail.
In short, professional, accurate intelligence collection guidelines were used to protect America "from all enemies, foreign and domestic," without also undermining the very freedoms we were protecting.
So I've watched the debate in Congress over warrantless wiretapping and the manner in which private companies have been encouraged to violate the laws that so many of us dedicated our careers to upholding with great interest---or, more appropriately, with shock and awe.
Let me be clear---I strongly believe intelligence agencies need the power to conduct electronic surveillance of anyone who would mean our nation harm---particularly in a post 9/11 World. And if there are loopholes that prevent appropriate agencies from doing this work within the bounds of the Constitution, those holes can and must be closed.
But this debate isn't just about security; it's about accountability. As an officer who was both involved in these programs and held personally accountable for my actions in the name of defending America, I have a problem with giving a few well-connected, well-healed companies who knowingly usurp the law a free pass.
Every day, less than 1% of our country puts on the uniform and dedicates themselves to the security and the freedom of every single American. They do so knowing that breaking the chain of command, or ignoring orders, comes with consequences---no matter how "patriotic" your intentions.
When I see low ranking officers tossed in jail for carrying out the explicit directives of civilian leadership (I.E. Abu Gharib) that is not held accountable, silence is not an option.
When I see our national security institutions compromised by the mistakes of Washington politicians, silence is not an option.
When I see our intelligence community being used for partisan political gain instead of for defending our nation, silence is not an option.
And when I see companies acting "in the interest of national security" held to a lower standard of accountability than the dedicated professionals charged with our nation's defense, silence is not an option.
And to those few companies seeking immunity for breaking the law despite the best of intentions---might I offer a few comforting words on behalf of all who serve, and all who have borne the responsibilities of safeguarding our great nation...freedom isn't free.
Charlie Brown, Lt. Col. USAF Ret.
Don't let his name fool you, he is not a cartoon, he is the real deal, a real spy.
Going after Doonothings' Congressional seat against a carpetbagger, Tom McClintock.
Tom has been in politics in CA for a long time and this would be his springboard to the 'BIG time', so he moved up from LA to make District 4 his home. Charlie has been around the area for 16 years.
Nasty nest of crabby old repug geezers here and the current rate of expiration should be down to the nubs in about 15 years. Better hope the hometown boy can pull it off.
I saw two Bush/Cheney stickers on vehicles coming to work this AM proving people are stubbornly clinging to the sinking life raft that was the repug party.
Hey people! Get out your little scrapers and get busy or be forever relegated to the idiot bin.