Former CIA worker says he leaked surveillance data | June 10
Focus on security imperils liberty
The 29-year-old whistle-blower who came out of the shadows to expose the surveillance techniques of the National Security Agency is quoted as saying, "I can't allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy and basic liberties."
Edward Snowden might not be a Benjamin Franklin, but old Ben was quoted too, as saying, "They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety." I think Snowden is not far from the mind-set of Franklin.
There are many paraphrases of Franklin's quotation, but the most appropriate one is, "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both."
Ray Brown, Tampa
The assault on privacy | June 9, editorial
Threat to democracy
The revelations of secret spying by the CIA, NSA and private contractors on the electronic communications of all Americans do not pose a security threat to our country or our people. Terrorists already knew that U.S. security agencies tap into their emails and telephone calls. But the American public has not previously known the extent of these unbridled government and private programs, justified in the name of national security, or the threat they pose to our democracy.
Whether or not these unmonitored spy programs really enhance our security is debatable. But the critical debate we desperately need to have is whether this incredibly pervasive secret spying is a violation of our most fundamental constitutional rights. It is not the legality of the actions of the whistle-blower we should be focused on; it is the legality of the actions of our government that he has courageously revealed. "When the finger points at the moon, only fools look at the finger."
Considered together with recent revelations about the use of drones and extrajudicial assassinations, and older revelations about "renderings" and torture, all in the name of national security, we must ask ourselves: What kind of country are we willing to become in the name of security? We badly need for we the public, the press and the Congress to balance, in the open, the threats posed by terrorism against the threats posed by the secret methods of an increasingly totalitarian state answerable to nothing but itself.
Andrew Rock, Tampa
America's worst charities | June 9
Real charities need notice
I have read your feature about the worst charities and their practices with amazement. It is wonderful to see what I have known (and suspected) for years be put in print.
I have spent most of my life working in public relations for legitimate not-for-profit organizations and know their fundraising struggles.
Please tell me that you are going to follow up with a list of the organizations that spend donations wisely and have a greater percentage of their money actually go to programs and people. There are many good charities.
Lani Czyzewski, Temple Terrace
Regulate and punish
It's unfortunate that some organizations are misusing funds collected for charities. Such unscrupulous persons/organizations are betraying trust vested in them by the public. This could result in a "once bitten, twice shy" attitude that would leave even genuine charities being denied funds.
The states should regulate such charitable organizations so that fraud is minimized. Heavy penalties, with imprisonment, must be imposed on cheaters and imposters who get away with such daylight robberies. The Times and the Center for Investigating Reporting should be congratulated for unearthing misuse of funds.
D.B.N. Murthy, Tampa
Do your research
It seems pretty simple to me. Don't give any donation to an organization that calls you on the phone. When they call, just say no.
You know the types of charities that you want to support. Do your research and then give directly to that charity when you are ready. If we all follow that path, our charities will benefit and the telemarketers will be looking for other jobs.
Sharon Rubright, Apollo Beach
Dead hours after capture | June 8
A national symbol
As an Aussie in the United States for 27 years, I was sorry to read about the eventual death of the disoriented marsupial in Pasco County that escaped captivity recently.
The kangaroo is Australia's national symbol, emblazoned on our sporting fight flag since Alan Bond wrested the America's Cup from Dennis Connor's U.S. team back in 1983. It proudly adorns the tail fins of Australia's national carrier, Qantas.
Along with the emu, the kangaroo is depicted on our national coat of arms because these two symbolic native animals cannot walk backwards — they can only advance. It's ironic however that Aussies cull our national symbols periodically when numbers get out of control, and when prepared properly, their meat and hides find their way into fine restaurants and souvenir shops around the world.
Nevertheless, as a proud Australian who has been face to face with many 'roos in the past, the ultimate fate of this poor guy after fighting off tasers, tranquilizers and wrestlers gave me pause to reflect on what an unwilling yet unyielding representative of Australia he was.
Ian Palmer, Brandon
Senate's nominee shutdown | June 8
End the filibusters
This editorial advocates against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exercising the "nuclear option" to end filibusters because it would make the Senate look too much like the House.
The Senate is not the deliberative body that the framers of the Constitution envisioned, and its "bipartisanship and collegiality" are essentially nonexistent. Virtually the only differences between the Senate and the House are that the one-fourth of the U.S. population living in the 30 smallest states controls the majority of the Senate seats, senators have a longer term of office than presidents, and the filibuster.
The only difference that can be eliminated without a constitutional amendment is the filibuster. Your filibuster fix of "more common sense and less partisan maneuvering" is not going to happen. Reid should use the nuclear option to end filibusters. The Senate should have a time-limited debate regarding the nomination of Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices, and virtually all other federal judges followed by a vote decided by a simple majority.
Vic Presutti, Dayton, Ohio