How are Massachusetts elected officials reacting to the documents former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed to the Guardian newspaper about the extent of the US military's surveillance operations directed against people in the United States?
“I don’t think anybody in the press, or anybody in Congress, or frankly most people in the public ought to be too surprised when they realized that this was taken to the end,” Tierney told reporters after an appeal for lower student loan rates at Northeastern University Monday. “If you have an executive and you tell them you want to keep them safe and here are the boundaries, then they’re probably going to go to the extent of the boundaries, because nobody wants to be asking the question the day after: ‘Why didn’t you do something to prevent whatever might have happened?’”
Gov. Deval Patrick treated the news of secret espionage programs with caution.
“You know, I’ve been following those stories, I think like lots of people and trying to understand what’s really involved and what the truth is and to parse through the reactions to find out exactly what the facts and the explanations are,” Patrick told reporters Monday.
“Many of us objected to the Patriot Act when it was written, because we thought it was too expansive and it well could carry out to just what has happened, something that would bring in a lot more information than some of us thought – others were comfortable with it. Obviously it passed,” said Tierney, who voted against the Patriot Act.
Tierney said, “There were many of us who thought that we could have struck a better balance for privacy and civil liberties with security at the same time, and now we’re going to have that debate hopefully.”
Both Warren and Tierney indicated a belief that questions of civil liberties had been glossed during previous debates over the legislation, which was initially enacted in the weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"I’m very troubled, but I think the congressman is exactly right. We need to have a public debate about this. There’s a balance that has to be struck between our security and our freedom,” Warren said. She said, “Now it’s going to be a public conversation. It’s a conversation we’ve needed to have for 12 years now.”
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