Editorial: Debate over surveillance is overdue

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The uproar over how much of our privacy should be sacrificed to protect our national security is sure to rage on this week as new revelations are finally firing a public debate about where the balance lies.

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While the snooping was authorized by Congress after the 9/11 attacks and even expanded multiple times by Congress and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the stunning scope of the surveillance is only now coming into focus. Disclosures late last week revealed the National Security Agency's massive data mining of both telephone records and Internet usage to ferret out possible terrorists.

What we need to know is how well this permanent surveillance state -- U.S. taxpayers spend $80 billion a year on intelligence services -- is monitored for violations of civil liberties. And is it cost effective?

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