Thursday, March 23, 2006

Cosmo Quiz: The Secret NSA Wiretapping Program

In the spirit of the quizzes put together by Cosmopolitan magazine to provide advice to readers who want to figure out more about themselves regarding certain issues of importance, I’ve devised a quiz on the secret NSA wiretapping program ordered by President Bush in 2001.

The directions are simple. As you answer each question, just follow the prompts either to the next question or to a suggestion about what your overall feelings for the program might be based upon your responses.

Question #1: Do you believe the Executive Branch of the federal government should have the exclusive authority to determine on its own who it wiretaps for foreign intelligence information?
YES – Go to Question #3
NO – Go to Question #2

Question #2: Do you approve of how the Executive Branch was conducting surveillance through the secret NSA wiretapping program ordered by President Bush in 2001?
YES – Go to Question #1
NO – Go to Question #4

Question #3: Do you believe a balance of powers should exist between the various branches of the federal government in a manner that provides each branch with the ability, right, and responsibility to check the activities of the other branches?
YES – Go to Question #1
NO – Go to Suggestion #1

Question #4: Do you support the right of the president to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance during times of war and peace as long as that surveillance takes place within the guidelines required by law?
YES – Go to Question #5
NO – Go to Suggestion #2

Question #5: Do you believe the Congress should formally reprimand President Bush for ordering the secret NSA wiretapping program without the direct approval or binding oversight of either the legislature or the courts?
YES – Go to Suggestion #3
NO – Go to Question #6

Question #6: Do you believe the Congress should begin a formal investigation of President Bush’s initiation of a secret NSA wiretapping program without the direct approval or binding oversight of either the legislature or the courts?
YES – Go to Suggestion #4
NO – Go to Question #3

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Suggestion #1: It appears you don’t believe in the fundamental principle of checks and balances upon which the American government was largely founded. This certainly doesn’t preclude you from living in the United States nor does it mean any of the rights of citizenship should be taken from you. However, if you find yourself at odds with many more of the founding principles of this nation, you may be simply more comfortable in a country that openly celebrates a governmental foundation of authoritarianism. I hear parts of China can be nice—and there you’d also get to remain in a highly capitalistic society.

Suggestion #2: Apparently you approve of preventing the Executive Branch from engaging in an activity that works to protect our national security. That said, please immediately contact the NSA—it would like to start conducting surveillance on you now.

Suggestion #3: It appears you approve of censuring President Bush for initiating a secret NSA wiretapping program without any oversight or approval from the other two branches of the federal government. If you feel like taking the next step and moving your feelings into action, a good place to start is by calling your US senator and asking her/him to support the censure resolution proposed by Senator Russ Feingold.

Suggestion #4: It appears you approve of the US Congress undertaking a formal investigation of President Bush pertaining to his order to initiate a secret NSA wiretapping program without any oversight or approval from the other two branches of the federal government. Unfortunately for you, the prospect of a congressional investigation on this issue was already rejected earlier this month by the Republican-controlled Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Better luck next time the president breaks the law. Feel free to return to Question #5, if you'd like.

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