NSA seizes phone records of millions of Verizon customers
Yesterday, the English newspaper “The Guardian” broke the story that the National Security Agency (NSA) collects the phone records of millions of Verizon customers on a daily basis. The U.S. government has not confirmed the report. The practice of wire-tapping and intruding into a citizen’s right to privacy began with the Patriot Act issued under the Bush administration. After the September 11th attacks, the government did what it deemed necessary to thwart terrorism.
The Bush administration was endlessly criticized by Democrats, including then-Senator Barack Obama in this intrusion of privacy. Senator Obama promised during his first presidential campaign that he would not only put a stop to such practices, but his administration would be the “most transparent” in political history. Someone online wondered if he meant that the American people were going to be “the most transparent” in American history.
Earlier this morning my fellow blogger, Mariam, posted her opinion on the matter. She is dismayed at the practices continued in this administration and states she is having “a bit of an existential crisis with this.” Like most topics, I agree with her on some points, but not all of them. As we went back and forth in her comment page it dawned on me that I should simply post a rebuttal of sorts. After all, this sort of debate is the genesis for this blog.
It might seem contrary to other stances but for the most part I am okay with sacrificing a bit of my privacy in return for the benefit of preventing future terrorist’s attacks. I cannot fault President Obama for continuing such a practice. We, as regular citizens, have no idea the benefits of such practices. We have no idea how many people have been saved, how many attacks have been prevented. We don’t know, and very well may never know.
I cannot fault the president because I supported such practices during the Bush administration. It would be hypocritical to now backtrack simply because President Obama is a Democrat. I am not afraid of siding with the president. As I like to say, I am a conservative who is not beholden to the GOP. I form my own ideas and beliefs and stand firm in protecting my freedom of opinion.
There is no indication that the government is listening in on our conversations. Simply knowing who I called and for how long is a government intrusion I am comfortable in allowing. If the information obtained in seizing millions of records helps thwart one terrorist plot, isn’t it worth it?
Now, I should add one caveat. Megan McArdle, special correspondent for the Daily Beast and Newsweek, posted an interesting and thought-provoking article this morning on the Daily Beast. I think the article greatly compliments Mariam’s post. I think her conclusion is well-written.
“My greatest fear is not that this surveillance will turn out to be more widespread. My greatest fear is that we will find out they are spying on us, and the American public will yawn. And in some secret room, bureaucrats and politicians will note that the American public does not care, and turn to discussing how much more spying they can get away with.”
McArdle brings forth a great point. Although I might be okay with the current intrusion I am now aware of, it does not mean that I am okay with even more intrusive methods. She brings forth a great consequence to my leniency. I will tell you one thing: I am not OKAY with further government overreach. I think it is important we as citizens make it clear that we will continue to hold our politicians responsible and that there are limits to our willingness to cede our constitutional rights.
After all, at which point does our constant inaction cripple our right to privacy?
Our constitutional rights guaranteed to every citizen.
I’m interested to read what you think.
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate