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Your e-mails: Secret wiretaps readers debate the use of warrantless surveillance


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. asked readers under what conditions, if any, they would accept secret eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. Here is a sampling of those responses, some of which have been edited:

Why is it wrong? If it's to help protect us at home against terrorism, then why not? We have too many freedoms. This country now sits on a foundation of sand near the raging sea.
Tim Krueger, Newport Beach, California

Spying without a warrant is illegal. If the president wants to listen to my conversations, he needs to get a warrant. He needs to show probable cause. Data mining and eavesdropping for code words isn't going to make us safer. It's just a fishing expedition.
Anne MacDonald, Lexington, Massachusetts

Under no circumstances is secret eavesdropping on U.S. citizens acceptable. With the FISA court in place, the current administration had the ability to tap communication without any delay whatsoever, and had 72 hours to retroactively obtain the warrant. In thousands of cases only several times was the request denied by the court. Any claim by the administration that the need to tap lines without a warrant on account of expediency simply does not hold water, and furthermore raises an ominous question as to the true motives of the administration since they circumvented the legal protocol that was in place.
Michael Miller, Ocala, Florida

I think Mr. Bush has made a wise decision to allow the agencies concerned tap into communications between suspected terrorists and U.S. citizens without a court order because it's imperative not to warn the terrorists.
Bjorn Egil Larsen, Vikersund, Norway

I have no problem with my government eavesdropping to keep our country safe. I say nothing on the phone that I would mind anyone hearing. So, listen in and keep us safe. Mr. President: you are doing a great job. If you can prevent another 9/11, go for it. I don't believe the president would be doing his job if he didn't intercept these conversations with the terrorists.
D. Rodgers, Campbellsville, Kentucky

We have laws in place to spy. They should be followed. The president and the NSA, FBI or CIA should not have the right to spy on Americans without proper court approval and safeguards. If Bush can't protect us from terrorists and preserve our freedoms at the same time, then he needs to go.
Alberta Moles, Harrisonville, Missouri

I think secret eavesdropping on U.S. citizens should be legal. If it prevents another 9/11, I am all for it. And besides, if you have nothing to hide, what is the big deal? People are always saying the government is not doing anything to prevent terror, and when it does, they get mad about it.
Christina Jorgensen, Boynton Beach, Florida

It should never be allowed without court supervision as present law requires. Executive power must always be accountable to an independent judiciary. It is a fundamental part of our system of checks and balances. If the Bush administration is allowed the exercise of unchecked executive power, that would signal the first step of a slippery slope that can ultimately degenerate into tyranny.
Ignacio G. del Valle, Coral Gables, Florida

We need to do whatever it takes to protect our country. Our safety is more important than anything. There should be no debate about this.
Sandra Loverchio, Venice, Florida

Yes, for national security. A moral government would not dishonor its citizens. A moral citizen should have no fears of its conversations. Legal issues typically boil down to simple moral principles.
Stan Efird, Indian Trail, North Carolina

It is not acceptable to eavesdrop -- ever -- without a warrant. The system is set up for speedy access to warrants when requested. There is no excuse. This is an increasing example of the executive branch overstepping its authority and should be a red flag to everyone who cares about democracy, and we're losing it here. [Supreme Court nominee Samuel] Alito is the next step toward total power and whoever does not see that is in denial or doesn't care.
Jocelyn DeVault, Newbury Park, California

People sleep well at night because things are going on that they aren't aware of. That's a simple fact. While you sleep at night, a policeman is patrolling the streets to keep you safe. A fireman is at a station somewhere, training or waiting for a call. A soldier is dying a thousand miles away -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, or some place that doesn't even make the news -- to make the world a freer place, and to defend the rights you take for granted. They defend the average person from criminals, fires and a thousand other threats. There is a new threat out there -- terrorism. There are agencies and groups within the agencies whose sole purpose is defending people from terrorism. They are Americans just like me and you, and they honestly don't care to know what you are having for dinner tonight, or what you're buying your grandmom for her birthday. They do not have the time or the resources to worry about your personal life. They are after one thing and one thing only -- terrorists. If our publicly elected officials believe they need the tools they've been given to get the job done, let them have them.
PFC Harris, Monterey, California

Wiretapping undermines ethical interaction between citizens. It serves only to create paranoia and subvert the genuine tasks of drawing people together. Underhandedness is simply that. There is a reason that we teach our children it is not the proper thing to do.
Devin S. Waugh, Lawrence, Kansas

Warrants should be required in any case of eavesdropping. Our country was built on our liberties and our personal freedoms. By eavesdropping on our own citizens, we are showing the world that we are hypocrites. We say "your people should be free" but at home, we do the same thing. If this is acceptable, why are we in these wars? Our own government has become two faced, hoping that the public will follow the sensationalist headlines and the same old "it's for your own good" rhetoric. By playing on the emotions, the government is doing sleight of hand, misdirection, etc. Not what [is] best in the overall, but what's best for them at the current time.
Carie, Huntsville, Texas

When our government infringes upon our civil liberties in the name of security it has become no better than those regimes we have fought and died to eliminate.
Tia, Marion, Ohio

I have no problem with eavesdropping on any of MY conversations. I don't understand why everyone is making such a big deal out of this! We are at war and we must use WHATEVER means necessary to keep our country safe.
Bob de Moncada, Miller Place, New York

When credible evidence exists of a threat to people or property; where the necessity to act to prevent this is immediate. The agency of the government doing the eavesdropping should be required to obtain a warrant after the fact, and to provide the appropriate court justification for its actions.
Robert, Miami, Florida

Perry, Framingham, Massachusetts

It is never acceptable to secretly wiretap, data mine or in any other way "eavesdrop" on U.S. citizens. It is also unacceptable to create secret deals with private corporations or governmental agencies to gather information on Americans. What kind of country are we becoming? North Korea?
Pamela Preston, New York, New York

I do not mind if the government eavesdrops on me during this terrorism crisis we are going through. If it helps to save thousands of Americans, I am for it. More power to them! If they want to eavesdrop on me or my conversations, let them. I have nothing to hide. I think it is acceptable at this time for homeland security.
Norma Miller, Vernon, Texas

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