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These agencies were spying on Americans when the Tsarnaev brothers were openly planning and executing their terrorist attack, but their actions didn’t draw the attention of the FBI or NSA. The warning light was blinking red, but the watchmen were asleep at the switch.

The Boston police should insist that the FBI and NSA do a better job of data collection, analysis and information-sharing instead of putting more cops on the street and make honest citizens give up backpacks. And, yes, they should profile terrorism suspects instead of spying on or suspecting every American of terrorism involvement.

God forbid that a terrorism suspect straps explosives to his body and detonates them in a public space. The overreaction might be that the government makes every American citizen walk naked in public spaces to prevent the next attack.

Our only hope against terrorism is to stop punishing the American people after an attack, improve our national intelligence process and hold officials accountable when an obvious failure occurs. (Notice that no one was ever called on the carpet for the Sept. 11 attack.)

Quality warning intelligence is a better model to more successfully detect, deter, disrupt and mitigate terrorist attacks. It is a less costly approach, not just in budgetary terms, but in safeguarding constitutional freedoms as well. We deserve both privacy and security.

David A. Clarke Jr. is the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis. He has a masters in Security Studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.