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Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter to the Editor The NSA and Constitutional rights

The Washington Post

Letter to the Editor

The NSA and Constitutional rights

Published: December 29

Walter Pincus [“In Snowden’s wake, an unprecedented ‘rule’ to consider public opinion on intelligence gathering,” The Fed Page, Dec. 26] reports the dismay of senior intelligence officers at the possibility that public approval may be considered in deciding whether to undertake covert actions.
In my university teaching career, I have often profited from the campus residencies of senior diplomats, intelligence officials and military officers. They taught faculty and students a good deal, and I would like to think that they learned something before they left our idyllic circumstances to return to the harsh world.
Might I suggest that the intelligence officers so worried that public opinion could constrain their activities would profit from studying a historic document they have not, apparently, recalled for some time? It is called the Constitution, and its intellectual and moral origins are quite fascinating. Surely, there is some quiet college that could offer our public servants warm hospitality and rigorous instruction.
Norman Birnbaum, Washington

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