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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/20/2017

As long as personal info isn’t abused, it’s OK for gov’t to snoop

As long as personal info isn’t abused, it’s OK for gov’t to snoop

*As long as personal info isn’t abused, it’s OK for gov’t to snoop *What’s behind delay in state tax

As long as personal info isn’t abused, it’s OK for gov’t to snoop

Living as we do under constant threat of mass death by subterfuge, and in an era of Big Data, it is not surprising to me that the government is collecting data that helps them separate normal human activity from that which is subversive and dangerous.

A president is rightly held responsible by the people for seeing that everything reasonable is done to protect the country from surprise attack.

I have long felt that President Bush escaped accountability for his failure to take seriously the briefings he received that a major attack was planned using airplanes. In that case, President Bush didn’t even pick up the phone to inquire further into what was being done by federal agencies to correlate the dire warnings he was receiving.

“Well, I guess you’ve covered your butt now,” Bush’s response to the CIA briefer, is not acceptable from a president who takes seriously his responsibilities for national security. But that was then and Bush escaped by resorting to “tough guy” talk with bullhorn in hand.

President Obama understands that he would be issued no such pass if a major attack occurred on his watch. I am confident that, at this stage, the data is being used appropriately to detect patterns and connections that raise red flags.

The amount of data is so vast that I have no fear someone is listening in on some embarrassing conversation I may be having on the phone or over the internet.

The possibility that some future president or “J. Edgar Hoover”-type may abuse the system is a real threat that must be taken seriously. Such an improper program would require many co-conspirators and the risk of a whistleblower would, I hope, provide an effective deterrent to any Nixonian activity.

If and when the government is discovered using the data for some improper purpose, I expect that the consequences would be swift and severe.

Richard Alvarez

Schenectady

What’s behind delay in state tax refunds?

I am writing to add to Dianne Chagnon Burns’ June 14 letter concerning her late refund from the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

It has been over four months since I submitted my state return by mail, and yet my return’s status is still not listed in the tax department’s online status web page.

When I called the “New York Tax Help” line in mid-May and in early June, I was told my return was “in process,” but that they are having delays posting status online for paper returns and delays issuing refunds.

Last week I filled out and faxed to the department a “Request for Assistance from the Office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate,” and have not yet been contacted.

Since June 1, my refund is accruing 2 percent annual interest, to be paid by the state. This is not a good use of taxpayers’ money.

I think there is a bigger story here that should be investigated. I’m betting it’s not just me and Ms. Burns having this issue. Why, unlike all other years I’m aware of, is New York so late returning taxpayers’ money?

Guy Spiers

Niskayuna

Cuomo used abortion to buy women’s vote

Ain’t America great?

“Prince” Cuomo, in an attempt to become “His Supreme Excellency” Cuomo in the next presidential election, is trying to win more of the liberal women’s vote under the guise of women’s rights by attempting to liberalize state abortion laws.

And we get opinions to the editor worrying about snapping turtles

[June 18 Gazette]? Why not get a life and worry about human beings being killed?

Bob Nicolella

Scotia

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