Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The U.S. government’s covert efforts are supposed to be protecting the freedom of its citizens from terrorists or other nations.
But recent revelations from documents leaked to The Washington Post and the British newspaper, The Guardian, indicate that it’s our own government that is threatening freedom. The papers reported the documents indicate a sweeping new program — PRISM — allows the government to sift through email, chats, videos, photos, stored data, Internet phone calls, file transfers, video conferences and logins from nine different Internet providers.
President Obama moved quickly to assure Americans that this spying is not targeting citizens.
“This does not apply to U.S. citizens, and this does not apply to people living in the United States,” Obama said. “I came in with healthy skepticism about these programs. I can say that evaluating these programs they make a difference to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity.”
Perhaps this monitoring of documents will “make a difference” but we remain skeptical that Americans are not being monitored.
If the array of information is as large as reported, there is no way U.S. citizens aren’t at least being touched by, let’s say, collateral spying. And it is probably more extensive than some inadvertent contact.
Our government is keeping tabs on some of us. That, at the least, is creepy. It’s also wrong.
Yes, we should all expect to be inconvenienced at times, but that does not mean we should give up our constitutional right of privacy and to be free from unreasonable search and seizures.
As a wise American once said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Ben Franklin’s observation is as relevant today as it was in 1775.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is taking an aggressive stand against what it terms national security leaks.
The Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into The Washington Post and The Guardian, which broke the story on June 5 that the National Security Agency was secretly collecting millions of phone records from Verizon customers within the United States.
Earlier, it was widely reported Obama’s Justice Department searched phone records of Associated Press journalists and a Fox News reporter.
Investigations need to be conducted, not by the federal government, but of it.
It is important to know if Verizon, Microsoft or other companies were involved in the federal snooping.
Spying on Americans is wrong and it should not be tolerated. If it is as widespread as it now seems, this is a blemish on Obama’s record as president.