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Your e-mails: Secret wiretaps

CNN.com readers debate the necessity of secret surveillance

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Justice and Rights
Civil Rights

(CNN) -- President Bush recently defended a secret program that eavesdrops on some international phone calls made to or from the United States, saying the nation must be "quick to detect and prevent" possible near-term terrorist attacks.

CNN.com asked readers under what conditions would secret eavesdropping on U.S. citizens be acceptable, if ever? Here are a sampling of the many responses, some of which have been edited:

Eavesdropping would be acceptable only with a warrant. No exceptions. You cannot claim to be setting up a free democratic state on another continent while destroying the democracy in your own country. This is not justice. If the president exceeds his constitutional powers, we no longer live in a democracy.
Jon Gast, Pleasanton, California

Under no conditions is it acceptable. This president will do anything in the name of terrorism. I for one do not feel safe with his eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.
Sharon, Houston, Texas

I certainly support President Bush in his effort to keep our country safe. The government should be allowed to tap calls by citizens singled out to have possible links to terrorist cells. If the President doesn't exhaust every available means to protect us from those who wish to harm us, then he isn't doing his job.
Alyce, Dallas, Texas

I think people need to watch the video clips of 9/11 and the terrorist attacks around the world on a daily basis. I doubt we would have so many people complaining about this just a few days after the attack. I was born and lived in Iran for almost 13 years, and I know the mind-set of the enemy. Secret wiretapping is just a start, and should not have been leaked in the first place. People of America have not yet understood the dangers of terrorists because they have short-term memory. People like the 9/11 terrorist are still along us, and if they strike again, the same people will complain and say why weren't actions such as wiretapping done!
Avi Gabay, Los Angeles, California

Eavesdropping is acceptable if there is reasonable suspicion that a citizen has in any way been involved past activities related to terrorism, or if there is reasonable suspicion that a citizen is in any way involved in ongoing activities related to terrorism ... I understand that this may be considered an infringement upon our Fourth Amendment rights, but preserving our constitutional liberties as American citizens must involve some sacrifice if we believe in the safety of our welfare and way of life.
Adam, Hollywood, Florida

I don't feel there are any conditions that can justify the dangerous precedent of secret eavesdropping. That path leads to a gradual erosion of our civil liberties in the name of security, reminiscent of the old Soviet system. Unfortunately we're fighting an enemy who respects no rules of engagement, and they have no right to hide behind our civil liberties which they have no respect for. So if an individual has suspected ties to terrorists, or voices support for extremists, they forfeit their right to privacy.
Christopher Smith, South Burlington, Vermont

People need to realize that President Bush is doing everything he can to catch potential terrorists before they decide to commit another 9/11. Eavesdropping allows the government to search for terrorists in a highly affective manner. It shouldn't take another 9/11 to get the American people to think that this war actually has a purpose. This war and Bush's actions are about putting the Americans first, ensuring our safety, and helping a desolate country get back on its feet. Remember, President Bush is protecting our country.
Jessica, Hollywood, Florida

It is important for the nation's protectors to stay ahead of those who would do us harm. That said, I believe that the chief officials of the government must obey the laws of this country. We are a nation of laws. If the wiretaps were done without approval of the FISA court then people including the President should face legal consequences including impeachment.
John Kendrick, Ellicott City, Maryland

I think he broke the law since there are procedures with the secret court for these things already in existence since 1978 and not the constitution nor the 9/11 congressional mandate gave him this authority in law. He is trying to perform these actions with no accountability or traceability which is the checks and balances the secret court performs. He should be investigated and see where this takes the country and his administration. As if he does not have enough things going wrong with his administration this just adds to the list.
Chris, Richmond, Virginia

It's completely natural to take that step. It is President Bush who is taking all the blame on his head to protect America and Americans along with its allies. We are with him; he is doing that after a lesson from 9/11. Haven't we learned our lessons? Either support him or the terrorists.
Samir, Kathmandu, Nepal

I fully support the wiretapping on terrorist suspects. I see this operation as the President doing his job properly. Maybe if the CIA hadn't been stripped down so badly we would not be in such sad shape with intelligence as we are now.
Dean, Wilmington, North Carolina

This certainly isn't an activity that is going to increase the voters' trust in the government. I find it very difficult to believe that the same results could not have been obtained through the use of the special court that was created mainly for approving quick wire-tapping operations, and other actions that were necessary for the safety of the country. The only difference is that Bush's plan allows absolutely no oversight by anyone who is not part of his administration. The legal restrictions he has placed on his unilateral surveillance authorization don't allow it to even be discussed, and, as pointed out by several legal authorities, how can anyone complain about a violation of rights if no one ever knows who was placed under surveillance?
Rory Starkweather, Cabool, Missouri

As a US Citizen, where is the freedom we are seeking if we must invade individual's privacy? What President Bush is requesting is uncalled for. The right to invade a country was uncalled for as well as the right to invade our own citizens is uncalled for. I disagree with President Bush 200%.
Adam Hashem, Garden City, Egypt

President Bush has a mission; to protect US citizens from terrorist attacks. I believe he is on the right track and is doing "what he believes" is right. If a citizen is doing "no wrong" then he/she should not worry about their possible infringement of their privacy. It's a small price to pay if our lives are protected from these extremists. This is a crazy world we live in and not business as usual.
Michael Richter, Ramstein, Germany

I believe any secret eavesdropping on U.S. citizens beyond what is currently permitted under existing law to be unacceptable. President Bush has continually tried to expand his executive powers since 9/11. He and his administration have played fast and loose with the truth. If it is determined that the President broke the law by using NSA to spy on Americans, then he should be impeached. Unchecked presidential powers will transform the United States into a dictatorship.
Theodore Tartaglia, Reedley, California

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