Just who guards the guardians?

President Barack Obama "welcomes" debate on NSA. How comforting.

Why did it take an Edward Snowden to prompt this conversion? Because there exists no alternative mechanism to tell us of secret government predations.

Obama said he will continue keeping all phone records, text data, and who knows what else, on all of us. He would merely move data to some unnamed, nongovernment entity.

Our Bill of Rights relates to dealings between us and government. This new organization would be outside that relationship. Would it be subject to constitutional constraints or just to executive branch unappealable control, i.e., the same people who direct NSA now?

And so, the eternal government-citizen question: "Who guards the guardians?"

The Patriot Act, all 58,000 words, plus hundreds of U.S. Code amendments, were introduced to Congress 29 workdays after 9/11. And within three days (on Oct. 26, 2011) President George W. Bush signed it.

It strains credulity to believe there wasn't a package awaiting a public trauma. What pre-written laws profoundly changing our freedoms await if there is another attack? Sen. Dianne Feinstein, this NSA program must die.

Joe Moran

Orinda

We must remember past abuses of power

Only this month, a judge confirmed that the inclusion of a certain individual on a terrorist list "resulted from an error by the government," and that the government had acknowledged (to him) that she was no threat.

The appeal by this person to be taken off the no-fly list had been opposed by the government, on grounds of maintaining secrecy, for many years. Similarly, if the NSA has collected data on you -- such as a pattern of phone or email connections that coincidentally overlaps that of a terrorist, to take a simple example -- you might find your freedom of movement compromised with next to no means of redress.

More insidiously, as happened to many innocents in the heyday of the Cold War, you will be unaccountably denied government employment, or academic promotion, and so forth, whether a reason is given or not.

Do enthusiasts for the NSA, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not remember J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy? Did we trust President Richard Nixon?

As for moving the data storage to private, nongovernment hands: Let us pray they are not Target's.

Mike Bloxham

Kensington

Changes to NSA cosmetic at best

President Barack Obama's recent proposals regarding changing the NSA's gathering of personal data on our citizenry is cosmetic, at best.

The reforms he proposes reminds me of his reforms to rein in the excesses of the Wall Street banks: no teeth.

Obama is following closely in the footsteps of his Democratic predecessor in the Oval Office, President Bill Clinton, who moved his party dramatically to the right -- caving in, time after time, to Republican demands. Unfortunately, Obama has done the same throughout his presidency.

The NSA will continue its secretive surveillance of American citizens, while the Wall Street banksters continue to take the same citizens to the cleaners.

Michael Sullivan

Lafayette

No faith remaining in President Obama

I do not support anything President Barack Obama says or does anymore.

When Obama ran for office, he made promises about stopping the wars and transparency in his administration. We got sucked into his false promises. Once he got in the White House, he has been doing the opposite of what he promised.

He promised to stop the wars and instead increased the troops. More young American men and women have been killed in these wars, along with innocent Iraqis and Afghans who had nothing to do with politics.

Obama was against President George W. Bush for spying. Actually, Obama has increased spying on his fellow Americans and others all around the world.

The money he gave to the banks was misused, including bonuses to the CEOs who were responsible for the downfall in the first place.

As to his promises about a clean and honest health-care plan: I know of people whose policies were either canceled or premiums doubled.

I have no faith left in him. He has turned out to be worse than Bush. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have destroyed this country and there are people who still don't get it.

Virendra Jain

Concord

Plan does little to change anything

Solution? What solution? It's a Machiavellian solution. Change a little to continue with the same.

Leo T. West

San Leandro