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Mass Surveillance And Its Role In Promoting National Security

1622 words - 7 pages

Americans like to know things. With the most complex of information available with a simple Google search and breaking news updates instantly accessible via smart phones, the United States has adopted a culture that demands to know what is going on. That being said, it is no wonder Americans were outranged upon discovering their government had been discreetly monitoring their activity. The spark that ignited the controversy of mass surveillance initially arose in early 2013, when former CIA {Central Intelligence Agency} and NSA {National Security Agency} employee Edward Snowden “leaked information about the United States government’s highly classified mass surveillance programs” to journalists from several major publications, including the Washington Post and the Guardian (Edward Snowden).
The result was an uproar of accusations aimed at the executive branch and the NSA, declaring these data sweeps “unconstitutional” and “useless” (End The Phone Data Sweeps) because of their supposed invasion of privacy and lack of pertinent results. Despite these claims, it is clear that the protection of national security is undoubtedly worth the sacrifice of personal privacy by the people of the Untied States.
Because all US citizens are protected by the Constitution, many have turned to the authority of the Bill of Rights in attempt to prove data sweeps unconstitutional. But can Amendment IV really be used as evidence in a case against mass surveillance? Not particularly. The Amendment, which outlines the privacy of the person and possessions, states that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (The Bill of Rights: A Transcription), the key words being unreasonable and probable. Counterterrorism is definitely a probable cause and certainly not an unreasonable justification for mass surveillance. Additionally, President George W. Bush supported earlier surveillance, arguing that “the Constitution [gave] him the inherent power to act against foreign threats” (Preface to "Was National Security Agency (NSA) Wiretapping Without Warrants Legal?"). Given the United States’ history with terrorism in cases such as 9/11 and its constant battles with public security, any measures to prevent further attacks should be fully supported by a nation so deeply affected by them in the past.
In addition to being supported by the Constitution, mass surveillance is also condoned in the USA Patriot Act passed nearly unanimously by Congress in response to terrorist attacks in late 2001. The Act “allows law enforcement to use surveillance against…crimes of terror” and “enabled investigators to gather information when looking into the full range of terrorism-related” (The USA...

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