I have seen it all over the news. NSA, this. NSA, that. The talk of government surveillance has been stirring up some arguments among the people of America. As a US citizen myself, I am a bit concerned that I have government officials following my every move on the computer. Then again, it is all in effort to prevent terrorist attacks, such as the horrific 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, from happening again—or so they say. Some skeptics believe that there is a dark side to our government, one that was just recently leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. According to Justin Brookman, the government has been fishing out data from companies who already have large amounts of data from users like us (“Privacy in a World of Persistent Surveillance”). But what is NSA going to do with all the miscellaneous data they collected from us? What kind of information have they found? And what about foreigners inside the US—how does the government deal with them? Where do we draw the line? How much is too much?
September 11, 2001 was one of the darkest days the US had ever experienced. It was coordinated by nineteen terrorists, all thirsty for revenge for the change Americans brought with them to the Middle East. From then on, our government has developed policies that strengthened our security, such as the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was signed just a few weeks after 9/11 by President George W. Bush. It expanded government power to detect terrorism faster and more efficiently (MacDonald). Its goals include increased funding for the Technical Support Center at the FBI, more employment of translators at the FBI, increased duration of FISA surveillance of non-US citizens, and access to certain business records for foreign intelligence and international terrorism (“EPIC”).
The reason for stricter security is because “the campaigns against al-Qaida and other Islamic terror organizations is really war…like the war on drugs” (MacDonald). It is hard to get rid of drugs because there are just so many out there. It is the same situation with these terrorist groups. The terrorists are hiding within our country, blending in with the people, making it much more difficult to target them. In addition, they are just so willing to commit suicide to fight for their cause. This makes it easier for them to harm others without having to worry about the consequences after. Furthermore, they are finding more ways to raise money and get the weapons they need (“Safeguarding Privacy in the Fight Against Terrorism”). Thus, it would make sense for the government to take action at a time like this, even if it does risk exposing people’s privacy. “The Bush administration says it can’t afford to wait for a court. If it hears a threat, it must act immediately to stop terrorists. If it has to wait for court permission, that could give terrorists time to strike” (“Prying Eyes”).
Heather MacDonald believes that the Patriot Act hysteria is being overblown by the...