Currently raging in the news is the breach on the individual privacy. It has been leaked that the government has been tracking American phone calls and American conversations through phone (specifically Verizon) and internet services. A scandal has broken out where the government was allegedly tracking newspaper reporters’ phone calls. As one sees this pattern, one begins to see that our constitutional rights are being ignored- more namely, our right to privacy.
The fourth amendment- “The 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.”
Obviously, this amendment is bullshit to the the government. Tracking American phone calls…. that’s not a reasonable search… in fact those are “unreasonable searches.” It’s not like all Verizon phone users are planning to destroy America. If they were, then yes, this tracking is reasonable and therefore constitutionally valid. But the fact its, that’s not the case. Same thing with the newspaper reporters. It’s not like they did anything illegal. So the reason for tracking their phone calls is “unreasonable” and therefore constitutionally invalid.
Now, before I go rambling on, let’s take the root of this. Why did all of this spying start in the first place? The answer is simple and infamous: the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Right at that moment, American government policy changed forever. Soon, airplane checks were more tight, the Department of Homeland Security was established, and agencies such as the CIA and the FBI were granted (unconstitutional) access to phone calls, private conversations, etc. All resulting from the fear of a terrorist attack happening again.
Now, seriously, America (or at least the government) has to stop being overdramatic. Yes, the 9/11 attacks were sad. Yes, they were horrible. But that doesn’t mean the American government can all of a sudden go crazy and take away all constitutional rights. It’s like a mother, after seeing her child being killed by a gangster, starting a full-scale program aimed at destroying all the gangs in the world, thinking she would be able to prevent anything like her child’s death from happening again.
Obviously, the mother won’t be able to truly destroy all the gangs in the world. Similarly, America can never eliminate terrorism and violence. Think about it: did all this spying and surveillance stop the Boston Marathon Bombings? No. The Newtown Tragedy? No. All the various other bombings/shootings that happened in America? No. Simply put, we have proof that this spying doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to be.
I also want to bring out Osama Bin Laden. Why did he initiate the 9/11 attacks in the first place? Because, he wanted to destroy American morale. To destroy the American spirit. He wanted America to suffer. He wanted America to not be America anymore. Did he achieve these goals? So far, it seems so. How, you might ask?
Well, what does it mean to destroy America? Is it to actually explode the whole continent literally? If that was how Bin Laden thought of it, then he is one stupid guy to think just one terrorist attack would destroy a whole continent. So if this is not the case, then what is it? Well, what embodies America? What makes it different from other nations? The answer is that we have a constitution, we have rights that are actually recognized, and that those rights are actually respected. To destroy America, then, would mean to take away these rights.
Overall, this is perhaps what Bin Laden wanted. And it sure is coming true, given all this spying. That’s one right taken away- the right to privacy. In fact, other rights have been also been violated, too- the torture of terrorism supsects, the targeting of Muslim Americans, etc. Man, Bin Laden is sure cackling delightfully in his afterlife.
Of course, now the question is this: which is more important- constitutional rights or national security? Let’s compare the costs of these two, in general for America. Let’s say we lean to constitutional rights. There will perhaps be more terrorist attacks. But would you say terrorist attacks are that bad? For the individual, yes, but for America as a whole, I actually find it quite positive. I mean, look at the aftermath of 9/11. America saw a sense of patriotism that hadn’t been seen for a long time.
Now, what happens if we lean to national security? There will be more violations of constitutional rights. You might say what’s the big deal, but let me show you. Remember Hitler? During his rise to power, the legislature decreed that because of a national emergency of the various nations posing a threat to Germany, they would grant Hitler unprecedented power for four years, and he could overpower the constitution. Later, they extended that to four more years, then another four more years, but essentially it said that Hitler could do whatever he want for the rest of his time in office. In other words, Hitler could disavow all constitutional rights and do whatever he wanted. Now, we all know what happened: Hitler exploited this and Germany became the infamous Nazi Germany and the national emergency was all an excuse.
This is reminding me of America’s current situation. Because of a the 9/11 national emergency, the government could be granted unprecedented power over the constitution, such as spying on private conversations, torturing terrorist prisoners, etc. If we continue on this trend, it is possible that more rights will be disavowed, and perhaps even the whole constitution, all because of a national emergency. Politicians will exploit this so-called national emergency to encroach on more rights so they can have more power. America might even become an authoritarian state like Nazi Germany- in other words, sort of like a police state, in which all citizens are being watched and have to do what the government constrains them to do. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want America to be like Nazi Germany. To me, the costs of this is much more serious than the costs of a few terrorist attacks. Because America won’t be America anymore.
Overall, leaning to constitutional rights is perhaps the better decision. If we lean the other way, then Bin Laden has won.