On Christmas eve I attended an annual luncheon with a few close friends and sat talking with a young woman whose career was in health services. “Can you imagine?” she asked, turning her wide, blue eyes in my direction. “People are making such a fuss over the NSA instead of the condition of health care in this country.”
I smiled in sympathy but had to reply, “If I must choose between the health of individuals and the health of the nation, I must choose the latter.”
She looked surprised. Yet given the most recent revelation that NSA has tunneled into the servers of Facebook, Google and other private companies in its quest for information, and that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, denied before Congress any systematic surveillance of U. S. citizens (The Week, January 17, 2014, pg. 4), I don’t feel my response to that young woman was over-dramatic. (Also see http://news.yahoo.com/report-nsa-intercepts-computer-deliveries-160237344–finance.html)
Mass surveillance of a population fosters paranoia. Paranoia curbs free speech and endangers a democratic society. (See Blog 12/2/13) I’m not alone in my opinion. Paul Steiger, former editor of The Wall Street Journal has warned about the chilling effect the NSA revelations have had upon journalists.
…an administration that took office promising to be the most transparent in history instead has carried out the most intrusive surveillance of reporters ever attempted. It has made the most concerted effort at least since the Plumbers [Watergate scandal] and the enemies list of the Nixon administration to intimidate officials in Washington from ever talking to a reporter. (“Hazards of Reporting” by Andy Serwer, Fortune, December 23, 2013, pg. 12)
Certain rights contained in The United States Constitution and The Bill of Rights have been granted to us by our forefathers. At this moment, the right to privacy granted under the 4th Amendment is in danger.
Let us remember that at the birth of our nation, Thomas Jefferson peered into the future and said it, “will remain… to those now coming on the stage of public affairs to perfect what has been so well begun by those going off it. (Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., 1787. ME 6:165.) I hope we never forget our obligation.
(Courtesy of www.ansadagroup.com)