Security is an illusion. TSA agents prevent a plane from blowing up mid-flight no more than a crosswalk would prevent a car from running over a pedestrian. The general public needs to come to terms with this reality, for it is ours. With the recent scandal concerning the NSA, one would hope that the public would pay attention and seek retribution for the illegal surveillance of citizens committed by the government, but I fear there simply isn’t enough discussion to achieve any real results. Even worse still, I fear that the American people will accept this utter violation of our rights and justify it with words like “security” and “terrorism”.
A poll shows that 56% of America views this surveillance as acceptable because it will “stop terrorism”. Terrorism is by no means a new threat – it has always existed and sadly always will. There are no stopping extremists all over the world from seeking to instill fear in people to make a point. Extremists believe this will work despite the evidence showing that these acts of terror truly bring people together, much like what occurred after the Boston Marathon this year.
One could argue that by doing nothing wrong, there is not harm in constant surveillance, but by simply coming under the vague suspicion of the NSA, with years of phone records and internet searches, do you truly believe they wouldn’t be able to extract suspicion from even the most innocent of actions? In the words of the PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden, “You don’t have to have done anything wrong… They [the NSA] can use the system to back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made… and derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.”
Why would people willingly sacrifice rights for the illusion of security? I wish I knew. It is very Orwellian of the government to have recordings of everything we say over the phone and records of everything we do online, and this is behavior I refuse to tolerate. The spying on citizens carried out by the government is simply the beginning of a very slippery slope. By granting the government these powers, we are enslaving ourselves to elected officials and decision-makers and creating a future filled with restriction, censorship, and surveillance.
For all intents and purposes, I truly believe that Snowden is a hero and a man of the people. If he had the intention of harming the United States, he could easily have done so, as he states, “I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all over the world, the locations of every station we [the CIA] have and what their missions are.” Snowden continues to explain that, had he sought to harm the United States he could have, “…shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon. That’s not my intention.” Snowden witnessed corruption within our government and sought to inform the public of the decisions the Executive branch has been making without public acknowledgement. Snowden didn’t place a government official in harms way, nor did he hinder the security of the United States. The United States Constitution defines treason as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Unless the true enemy of the American government is the American people, Snowden fails to fit this definition.
My fear associated with the recent NSA scandal is that nothing will change. People will recognize that the government is trying to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society, but they will be unwilling to take the risks necessary to stand and fight to create change. I hope these fears don’t become reality and I hope we can work to spread awareness of recent events. We shouldn’t allow Snowden’s sacrifice for the American people go unwarranted and unappreciated. We must act.
For those that have no clue what I talked about in this article, here’s some information on the subject: