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US snooping is slippery slope to abuse of civil liberties

A Top Israeli security official zeroed in on the American system of airline security: “You worry about what people are carrying. In Israel we worry about who the people are.”

The conversation with Avi Dichter, the former head of Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, took place three years ago, but it came roaring back to me amid reports of federal snooping on Americans’ use of phones, computers and credit cards. The sweeping collection of data on private behavior is every bit as indiscriminate and flawed as the airport-screening system.

In both, everybody is guilty until proven innocent. Because one terrorist hid a bomb in his shoe, we all must remove our shoes before flying. Because one terrorist hid a bomb in his underwear, we all are subject to X-ray- like screenings.

The sweeping collection of data on private behavior is every bit as indiscriminate and flawed as the airport-screening system.

The little old Lutheran lady from Peoria is as suspect as the Saudi Arabian student seeking a pilot’s license. Justice is supposed to be blind, not stupid.

Meanwhile, the FBI had been warned about the jihadist turn by one of the brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon, but took its eye off him, perhaps out of an excessive concern for his rights.

The Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood had identified himself as a “Soldier of Allah,” but the brass didn’t bounce him because they were afraid of the diversity cops.

The balance of rights and security is out of balance. On one hand, security officials let terrorists slip through the cracks because they fear charges of anti-Muslim bias. On the other, they secretly vacuum up the personal data and habits of 300 million people.

To continue reading Michael Goodwin's column in the New York Post on this and other topics including taxes, click here.

Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.