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Published on Nov 16, 2007
We all agree that denying the government the opportunity to gather information that could prevent catastrophic terrorist attacks is unreasonable under any standard. The question is what are reasonable actions for the government to undertake and what is the proper level of oversight. There are three points about reasonableness and oversight: First, the changing nature of the terrorist threat is that we now face potentially catastrophic outcomes like nuclear terrorism, so we must take a preemptive approach. Preemption by definition requires surveillance. Second, the changing technology has changed our basic assumptions about what is available and what is useful. We cannot leave "walls" of information between various intelligence and law enforcement agencies. We cannot create information sanctuaries for terrorists to hide their activities. Third, expectations of privacy that don't take the first two points into account are inherently unreasonable. It is also unreasonable to think of the Fourth Amendment as absolute.