Thursday, April 16, 2009

Civil Liberties and Domestic Surveillance: I have always had mixed emotions with respect to the NSA's collection of domestic telephone and email exchanges. Lofty principles are wonderful in an age when nuclear weapons are not a reality. That is not the age in which we live. Yet, what is more representative of the essence of our nation than its civil libertarian devotion. It is the reflection of who we are and, often, at least the verbal justification for our military and diplomatic intervention on the world stage. While I understand the grave existential threat of physical attack, I worry about the existential erosion of those very ideas that make us, as a nation, who we are. The body and the body politic consists of both ideas and biological realities. They are united. Can one live without the other?

While there is a certain amount of government surveillance which, I believe, is necessary, the dragneting of thousands if not millions of harmless citizens' phone calls and emails is a waste of time, money and surely is, I believe, ineffective in keeping the nation safe. We are wasting resources capturing email and phone calls of an elderly grandmother living in Boca Raton whose daily routine includes meals at her assisted living, bingo and phone calls to her daughter in law in Paris. Our country needs to be protected but the protection requires pin point accuracy of who is the real threat and who is not.