Given the anger the public has expressed since the bank debacle and the government’s bail out and the fact that polls show only 6% of the population approves of the job Congress is doing, I’m surprised at the nation’s apparent lack of concern about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) secret surveillance program. The Pew Research Center reports that 56% of Americans feel the scrutiny is an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, while only 41% are troubled by it. (“Poll Watch” The Week, June 21, 1013 pg. 19).
Perhaps those who approve of NSA’s actions take comfort in the fact that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has jurisdiction over the process. How much authority they exercise is the question, however. From 1979 to 2012, the government made 33,909 surveillance requests that invaded an individual’s privacy. Of that number only 11 were denied. (Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal, Ibid pg. 18.) Either the government has been on its toes all those times or there hasn’t been much oversight.
Perhaps “we the people” have ceased to object to the invasion of our privacy because we’ve so willingly given that privacy away. We provide all sorts of information on the internet so we can enjoy its convenience. We shop electronically. We bank electronically. We sign political petitions electronically. We look for jobs or make friends electronically. The benefits derived from using the internet are so compelling, that the intrusion it allows seems a small price to pay. Could Joan Walsh of Salon.com, be right? “We know, deep down, that we are fully complicit in the loss of privacy.” (“Talking Points,” The Week, pg. 18)
Much has been written about the motives of Edward Snowden, the man who revealed the government’s surveillance program; yet for the life of me, I’ve yet to hear a reason that works to his advantage. He seems to have risked a good deal to shed a little light on the erosion of our Fourth Amendment. I leave others to debate whether he is a traitor or not. What concerns me more is the information he’s exposed. As Conor Friedersdorf pointed out in Atlanic.com, we Americans now know that we live “in the most sophisticated surveillance state in human history.” (“Poll Watch” Ibid, pg. 18) Do we care?
(Courtesy of espacioseuropeos.com)