No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had - Samuel Johnson
CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has warned defenders of the US National Security Agency (NSA) to stop making excuses and tell the truth.
It said that NSA defenders have repeated five 'facts' that are not true in the year since Snowden went public with his surveillance revelations and called for an end to the story spinning.
"Over the past year, as the Snowden revelations have rolled out, the government and its apologists have developed a set of talking points about mass spying that the public has now heard over and over again. From the president, to Hillary Clinton to [US representative] Mike Rogers, [US senator] Dianne Feinstein and many others, the arguments are often eerily similar," it said.
"But as we approach the one-year anniversary, it's time to call out the key claims that have been thoroughly debunked and insist that the NSA apologists retire them."
The EFF takes five oft-repeated points and debunks them, and it advised the public that hears them being spun to turn a deaf ear to them.
The first claim is that surveillance has prevented 54 terrorist attacks, a number that is often cited by Rogers. The EFF said that the NSA admitted that was false during a congressional hearing in 2013. "But that didn't stop the apologists," EFF added. "We keep hearing the '54 plots' line to this day."
Also in its sights is the claim that collecting call detail records "isn't a big deal", and the claim that there "have been no abuses of power". Both of which the EFF roundly dismissed.
Fourth is a return to terrorist attacks, and the assertion that privacy invasion is fine when it is done to prevent such incidents, while last is the proposition that adequate NSA oversight is provided by foreign intelligence courts and government regulators.
"It's time for NSA and its supporters to admit what we all know is true: what is at stake in this debate is the simple ability for any of us - in the US or around the world - to be able to use the internet without fear of surveillance. They continue to be willing to overstate their case in order to scare us into allowing them to continue to 'collect it all'."
"But the American people are getting wise and the media are increasingly double-checking their claims. As a result, more Americans than ever now say that the NSA has gone too far and those tired old stories are starting to wear thin. That's why it's time to tell Congress that these excuses won't work anymore. Right now." µ
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