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STOP SPYING ON THE SOVIETS?

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The National Security Agency could be in danger of getting its priorities badly twisted. If that happens, America could be put needlessly at risk.

Incredibly, NSA is seriously thinking of cutting down on the amount of eavesdropping its does on Soviet military communications.Instead, the Providence Journal reports, the agency's spy satellites and radar stations would be aimed at the conversations of international businessmen and trade ministers.

What folly!

Though the Kremlin seems a lot less menacing that it used to, the Soviet Union still spends much more than it possibly needs to on conventional and nuclear weapons alike. What's more, its deteriorating economy can easily make the Kremlin increasingly desperate. And desperate people can do foolish things - militarily as well as in other ways.

If NSA's re-directed eavesdropping devices pick up plots inimical to American business, it isn't clear whom NSA would tell about it. An increasing number of big firms are no longer owned exclusively by Americans. Instead, business is becoming more multinational, with ownership and operation divided among diverse people with loyalties to several countries.

At most, America's economic adversaries threaten only our standard of living, not our freedom or existence. NSA should back off from its contemplated shift in focus.