June 25 2013
Vicki E. Alger
Edward Snowden’s account about the government’s top secret PRISM program appeared earlier this month in The Guardian and the Washington Post. The program is supposed to help the NSA identify terrorists, but innocent American citizens are having their personal communications monitored.
Snowden fled to Hong Kong and is now in Moscow, where President Putin has said “nyet” to extradition. Vocal, bi-partisan camps have formed. One side says Snowden’s a traitor; the other, a whistle-blowing hero. Eric Yaverbaum described the odd bed fellows this way in the Huffington Post:
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has declared Snowden a traitor and recently declared "I hope we'll chase him to the ends of the Earth." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was booed after describing Snowden as a criminal at a liberal conference in San Jose, California, near her home district. Her response was to lecture the crowd, "...you don't have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a difference balance." Both Republican Congressman Peter King and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein have accused Snowden of treason, yet they are diametrically opposed on so many other topics.
… These are questions that liberals and conservatives alike want answered. It's why Republicans such as Rand Paul to Democrats like Alan Grayson all agree that Snowden's leaks have allowed the public to finally determine how much privacy we are willing to give up. Even polar opposites Michael Moore and Glenn Beck agree on something: both have called Snowden a hero.
President Obama has said, “I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 per cent privacy and zero inconvenience.”
When asked by Guardian interviewers to respond, Snowden quoted Benjamin Franklin: “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
Whether you believe Snowden is a traitor or a hero, we need to ask ourselves when is enough enough? We must not forget the Fourth Amendment right “of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” To be clear, I consider the NSA monitoring my email, phone, or other communications unreasonable.
There will come a time when, after allowing our fundamental rights to erode little by little under the guise of “national security,” the biggest threat we will face is the government that we empowered to keep us "safe."