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Privacy vs. safety

December 28, 2007

Re "Reid's retreat," editorial, Dec. 22

The Times has an interesting approach to "protecting Americans." The subhead of your editorial states, "In starting, then stalling, debate, he could botch a deal that helps protect Americans." It appears that The Times is more interested in protecting the privacy than the safety of American citizens. There is, and always will be, an adversarial relationship between privacy and safety in this era of global terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists, who wish to kill all infidels. It is clear that The Times' editorial board has less fear of global terrorists than it does of the Bush administration.

Most readers of The Times would be considered "infidels" by these terrorists, and therefore are and will be targets long after President Bush leaves the White House. Then what?

Roy Fassel

Los Angeles

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) retreated after supporting legislation that "would subject eavesdropping on Americans by the National Security Agency to meaningful judicial oversight." The editorial claims that Reid's retreating "threatens to undo a bipartisan compromise agreed to by the Bush administration that, while not ideal, is preferable to a stopgap 'FISA fix' tendentiously known as the Protect America Act, which will expire in February."

But that "FISA fix" is a temporary suspension of certain protections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. If it expires in February, FISA will again be in full force, so eavesdropping on Americans will once again be subject to meaningful judicial oversight via the FISA courts. The proposed fix, which Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) promises to filibuster, would make permanent some of those suspensions of FISA and would protect telecommunications companies that allowed the government access to our e-mail and phone conversations. Such crimes should be tried in courts, not in Congress, where corporate money carries big influence.

Tom Payne

Riverside

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