Monday, June 10, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?


I am sure now that everyone has heard about the National Security Agency (NSA) listening in on the phone calls of Verizon customers and gaining access to emails, chats and other internet activity through the country's largest internet service providers. The knowledge of this is came to light when a whistle blower at NSA provided the information to a UK newspaper, The Guardian. Today that whistle blower outed himself in that same newspaper. He is identified as 29 year old Edward Snowden.

When this story was first reported, my initial reaction, as a liberal Democrat was outrage. A few days on I have calmed down and become more practical, should I say. First of all this kind of domestic spying has been going on for many years and not just after 9/11. The Patriot Act was initiated by the Bush administration after 9/11, but I am sure these kinds of activities have been going on long before that. The US knew of Bin-Laden's activities at this time with intelligence gathered at home and abroad,but did nothing at that time. Because of the Patriot Act I am sure things have intensified dramatically. I believe that this kind of intelligence gathering has prevented other serious attacks since 9/11.

Many of my fellow liberals I am sure adamantly disagree with me, but that is their prerogative.  I do not like that our government is spying on American citizens, but the Ft. Hood terrorist and the Boston bombers were American citizens. I think it is naive to think that we do not need to monitor phone calls and internet usage because we would not gather any useful information. Since 9/11
Al Qaeda has become more sophisticated in the use of modern technology, especially the internet. The United States is not the only country using such information gathering techniques. Britain, France, Germany and other countries have the same need to stay one step ahead of terrorists as we do. It's just that they haven't been caught yet.

The question now is whether or not the whistle blower, Snowden is a patriot or a traitor. He did violate his security clearance, but did he endanger the lives of any Americans by aiding terrorists or anyone who may wish to harm the country? Only time will tell. I would like that this country would not have the need to spy on any of our citizens, but lets face it, is not an ideal world. I also would favor complete nuclear disarmament, but governments are run by human beings and as we all know, human beings cannot inherently be trusted, and thus someone would hold back some weapons.

Many people are now outraged at these activities, but this is not the first time such an atrocity has been carried out by our government in time of war or conflict. Do you remember the internment of thousands of American citizens of Japanese heritage during WWII? That was a hell of a lot worse than what is going on now, but it wasn't addressed (and not satisfactorily) until recently. During WWII we knew who the enemy was, but in this war on terror, in the technology age, we do not. He could be our neighbor or even a relative. Until we come up with a better idea on how to gather information, weed out the terrorists and prevent future terrorist attacks, we may have to get used to having our freedoms trampled upon on occasion. As long as I have done nothing wrong I have nothing to be afraid of - I think.

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