Freedom & Security Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Freedom and security are not mutually exclusive. I’m not free to break into my neighbor’s house (well, I can, but it won’t end up well for me). I’m not free to attack someone for disagreeing with me politically. There’s this little thing called battery I’d have to contend with. However, beyond the basic, and necessary, laws we have in place to protect our natural rights, we should be (theoretically) free to engage in the pursuit of happiness without worrying about infringements on our life, liberty or property.
NSA Director Keith Alexander doesn’t agree. He claims that as many as 50 terrorist attacks have been foiled since 9/11 due to the work of PRISM and the NSA’s surveillance. All the government had to do was put on the guise of Big Brother and trample all over our right to privacy. Wrong. The situation Alexander presents is a mere false dichotomy. His implication is that without the massive surveillance and data collection carried out by the NSA, we’d be facing an attack approximately once every 86 days.
This is a blatant falsehood. The NSA isn’t facing a choice between proper surveillance (attained with a warrant of those suspected of engaging in criminal activity) and universal surveillance, but that’s what Keith Alexander’s statement implies. We’re not supposed to choose between freedom and security. We can have both. The issue at hand is that the federal government has crossed the line between doing their jobs and engaging in overly-invasive, privacy-violating, and possibly illegal surveillance. Of course the NSA has every right to protect us against terrorism, but they can do that WITHOUT the invasive surveillance tactics they’ve used.
I don’t know about you, but I value my privacy. Sure, I’ve never committed a crime and the only thing incriminating in my phone records is a couple text messages ranting about an unpaid parking ticket. However, that’s not the point. When you give the government an inch they take a mile. They’ve already taken a mile and what’s to say the next one doesn’t end up in your back yard?