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Congress should fight to protect citizens

J. Edgar Hoover wiretapped suspected communists and radicals.

Richard Nixon bugged the offices of his political opponents.

George W. Bush secretly collected email, phone and Internet records of average Americans.

Barack Obama expanded the snooping on Americans and on our allies overseas.

The U.S. has a history of the powerful using their vast power to spy on their own people.

But the revelations about the collection of phone, email and Internet information from Americans and from American companies show government surveillance of its citizens has reached an entirely new level, with widespread collection of an enormous amount of information that could potentially affect millions of Americans….

These programs, started under the Bush administration and continued under Obama, have been largely carried out in secret with little oversight.

And Congress seems reluctant to exercise its authority to set limits on the surveillance….

After reviewing the reports, listening to the administration’s explanations, and gauging the reactions of Congress and the public, it’s clear that the U.S. intelligence community ran an end-around on basic protections against government abuse….

At a minimum, Congress needs to lead a wide-open public debate on these practices and step up its monitoring of them. Congress should re-assert its authority and protect the near-sacred right of privacy that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Basic constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure have been thwarted and Congress should vigorously restore those.

But it needs to do so in the context of protecting national security in the post-9/11 world.

The Cincinnati Enquirer