The United Surveillance States Of America: Dramatic Perhaps?
Freedom Or Safety? Cause You Can’t Have Both!
Unless you live under a rock, and in some cases that might not be so bad, there is no doubt you are ware of the NSA scandal that was created by the whistle blowing of former defense contractor and consultant Edward Snowden. It’s big news, with even larger implications. But what is most alarming is that most citizens are surprised by the news, as though not a soul knew or was aware. But ignorance for laws passed before can be forgiven, even when such outrage should have taken hold when these laws were being passed originally.
Since people are once again aware of what is going on, the same stupid questions are being asked as before. “Well what would you prefer, freedom or safety? Because you can’t have both.” Now I can’t speak for everyone, but our countries forefathers made great attempts to warn us of this. So many prominent American figure heads have spoken directly to this point, and if we are unable to head their warning, than what exactly are we to do? As an example of this, let’s reference a few for the sake of argument.
- “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -Benjamin Franklin
- “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” -Samuel Adams
- “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. ” -Thomas Jefferson
Now, this list of quotes could go on for pages, and we would only be speaking of our forefathers. In essence, what is agreed upon is that regardless of the dangers we face as a nation or as individuals, under no condition should we allow our rights to be restricted. However, after the attacks of 9/11, it’s understandable that people were afraid and wanted more safety. But what was the cost of the safety they demanded? The cost, which is obvious now, was our privacy and the fact that we are innocent until proven guilty.
With the NSA knowingly laying in bed with the largest communications companies (Verizon, AT&T, Qwest, etc), with the attempted passing of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protecting Act (CISPA), and whatever other plots yet unknown, it’s quite clear that the government is watching it’s citizens, even though the majority do not deserve to be watched. They’ve done nothing wrong. But for instance, if you use Verizon, the NSA has recorded 1 out of 5 of your phone calls, and are saved and stored in case they need to be referenced.
Another thing which may raise alarm for people is that many are comparing what is developing in America to books such as 1984 and Brave New World. Amazon released that after the NSA scandal, sales for 1984 were up nearly %6000. These purchases were no doubt on behalf of people trying to perhaps educate those that didn’t care or understand why the NSA scandal was such a problem. But when the government spies on it’s own citizens, rather than the enemies they claimed they would be watching out for, you quickly begin to develop this disutopian scenario.
As an example, people now believe that the whole issue with the IRS chasing after certain political party groups such as the Tea Party was that they were using this information gathered as a means to target “problematic” people or groups. Now, that would be great if it was targeting known enemies or terrorists, but it’s not. it’s being used to watch every citizen. If you’re familiar with either of those two books mentioned, the wording, the idea behind it, everything screams Big Brother.
In short to answer whether you should choose freedom over safety, the answer will always and under any circumstance be freedom. Because without freedom, without individual rights, you are always and in constant danger from the government which you serve. Because at that point, the government doesn’t work for the people, it would be the people working for the government. Always fearful, always uncertain as to what it’s move will be. Not to keep quoting people but…
“When people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson
Common Arguments For NSA Espionage
Now since we live in a democracy, and every person is able to speak their mind, there are obviously those who do not oppose, and even some who support what the NSA is doing. Their arguments generally revolve around one of the following:
- The NSA doesn’t listen to every conversation, they track IP addresses first and watch where those lead. If anyone is speaking with a known threat, they are then more closely watched and monitored. Only a very few phone calls are actually recorded.
The problem here is that even though they don’t outright listen to every conversation, they can still infer as to what was said. To use the IRS and Tea Party as an example again. They know the IP addresses for Tea Party computers, they notice some calls in, that same person calls up other politicians, and even lobbyists. What can you assume that string of conversations was about? Either way, regardless of their conversations, they should not be watched or monitored as they had done nothing wrong and nor were they suspected of doing anything wrong.
- The NSA has admitted to stopping 2 known terrorist threats which was entirely due to this surveillance.
So out of millions upon millions of conversations recorded, and billions of tracked IP conversations the NSA has stopped 2 attacks? They didn’t stop the Boston bombing, or the attack at the Sikh temple, or Sandyhook Middle school, or the even the batman massacre. They say it’s to stop terrorists, and in each of those cases, terrorists attacked. We have to remember terrorists aren’t a part of a nation, or religion, or sect of people. Terrorism is a strategy used by people. So when the NSA says it’s doing what it does to stop terrorism, well i just named 4 they let slip by. That’s not to account for the terrorism brought about by local gangs, drug dealers and the like. So in the end, they stopped 2 attacks, but for what cost? So much money has been thrown at the program, and they came up with stopping 2 attacks? I know the government is inefficient, but that’s outright ludicrous.
- Well you can’t have freedom and security, and I myself want to be safe, so i’m willing to let the government watch me because I’ve done, and will do nothing wrong.
This is the bit which is hardest to argue. As an opinion like that is their own, and has to be respected. But when fear strikes a person, or their safety is in question as many were after 9/11, they are liable to do things they normally would never conceive. You can’t tell a person you have to remain free and your safety doesn’t matter. The only thing that could be mentioned was that your freedom is safety. It’s safety from the government, and if you believe what is being done now is terrible. Just wait and see what happens if we continue to be nickled and dimed out of our individual rights.
It may not seem that bad now, but giving more unrestricted power to any government in the sense we did after 911 is only heading down a slippery slope. Power liberties will need to be forfeited in the future to ensure you’re safety, and before you know it, it will be a Brave New World. If you doubt that that would happen, try to figure out how they would ever believe an act like CISPA would be passed unless they thought the people were afraid enough to let it through. Just some food for thought.
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