Suzette LaGrange, Senior Vice President, Colliers International

Jose Melendrez, Assistant Vice President, Office of Diversity Initiatives, UNLV

Robert Fowler, Senior Pastor, Victory Baptist Church

The federal government has been collecting an unprecedented amount of personal information from phone records and internet searches. Is that an invasion of privacy? Or is it a small price to pay for increased security?

Here’s what our panelists said:

Jose Melendrez, Assistant Vice President, Office of Diversity Initiatives, UNLV:

For me on a personal level, it does send some concerns. If I’m talking on a cell phone or if I put something on Facebook – and I don’t even use Facebook that much. It’s still concerning when you think about what might be on there. What are they looking for? I understand why they need to do it given the world we exist in today, with the threat of terrorism and cyber terrorism, and those things that can happen, I understand that. But given the history of America and what we stand for, there’s got to be a smarter way and a better way of doing it so that we can still ensure our privacy and our rights that were given to us as Americans.

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Robert Fowler, Senior Pastor, Victory Baptist Church:

There are a lot of questions I have as to the appropriateness of this. I don’t have a big law degree, but I did study criminal justice to some degree when I was in college, and I remember something along the lines of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and there was the possibility that an individual could obtain good information in a bad way, then it is no longer useful in the judicial system. If we’re going to handle things that way, we should make sure that we’ve dotted our “I’s” and crossed our “T’s,” handle things appropriately with a whole lot more transparency. I don’t see any reason why we can’t be transparent. I think the American people are intelligent people, I think we’re smart enough to realize that there’s terrorism in this world, that we’ve got to do something as a nation to provide safety for each and every individual.

Suzette LaGrange, Senior Vice President, Colliers International:

I like my freedom and liberties and my privacy – it’s very important as an American. And so if we allow the government to just come in and monitor everything we become like some of these communist countries in our past history. I want my privacy. I think we need to understand the policy that existed. Let’s discuss it. So for that I think I kind of weigh on the side that he should have whistle-blower status. Cause I don’t know what real issues he brought out having to do with espionage. I mean he brought to light a program that our government was implementing and I think we need to discuss that program. I’d also be interested in knowing the 50 terrorist attacks that were avoided. I’d like to better understand how was the information gathered that led to those 50 cases being avoided. I think that’s an important part of this discussion too. Maybe the program is working.

Our panelists also talked about affirmative action, gun ownership and more. Listen to the audio and share your comments below.


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