Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Falling short on privacy

President Barack Obama acknowledged in a news conference before his vacation that greater openness and added safeguards are needed for the massive surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Agency. The president said he understands concerns about potential abuse and presented a series of reforms. But Obama is not calling for substantive changes in the way the NSA spying programs operate, and his commitments fall short of adequately addressing privacy concerns.

The administration has been doing damage control since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, now a fugitive in Russia, leaked information that the agency was collecting American telephone "meta data" and much of the world's Internet traffic, including communications between people overseas and in the United States. The revelations sparked members of Congress from both parties to call for limiting the programs and boosting the ability of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is charged with overseeing spying operations, to be a more potent watchdog.

Obama vowed to work with Congress to add greater oversight to the phone records collection program, possibly through new constraints on the use of Patriot Act authority, among other promising reforms. But it also takes empowered courts to limit government spying. Currently, only the Justice Department appears before the FISA court, resulting in predictably one-sided rulings. In the last three years, the court approved every one of the 5,180 surveillance requests placed before it, with one FISA application withdrawn and modifications made to 40 more.

The court effectively put no limits on the collection of vast databases of domestic calling logs — information on what phone numbers were called and received from specific phone lines, when, and for how long — under a provision of the Patriot Act that lets the government collect business records relevant to a terrorism investigation. (This is the provision Obama singled out to say he would be open to new constraints.)

Obama recognized the concerns that the court "only hears one side of the story" and called for an advocate in the FISA court to argue against the Justice Department in cases that propose an expansion of spying authority or adoption of a new program. That would be a welcome development, and it demonstrates the president is hearing the criticism that dragnet NSA surveillance programs ignore traditional limits on government spying. But the proposals don't go far enough, and Congress should demand more when it returns from its August recess.

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Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18