Monday, April 29, 2013

How Do Americans Reconcile The Dilemma Of More Security vs. Privacy + Freedom?

 Conan on Obama at Correspondent's Dinner: "We both went to Harvard, we both have two children and we both told Joe Biden we didn't have tickets for tonight's event."

  • I have to be honest with you. I struggle with the issues of ensuring our privacy and freedom vs. ensuring our security.
  • When I'm totally honest with myself, I understand our privacy has been compromised in countless ways from security cameras virtually everywhere to our neighborhood supermarket knowing our specific shopping likes to the Internet following every virtual step we make. And with those, I haven't even scratched the surface.
  • Then I compose myself and take into consideration the vast number of national security threats. In addition to the many domestic terror threats (by the way, to date, none have been "homegrown." There's no such thing as "homegrown terrorists" as the media would have us believe), we're not only confronted with al-Qaeda, but now Chechnya, Hezbollah and several others being supported by Iran ( Our intelligence agencies were briefed about the potential of Chechnya terrorists 10 years ago. In January 2004, Homeland Security warned, "Many Chechen rebels are trained and supported by al Qaeda." They also warned about al-Qaeda's use of non-Arab and female terror operatives. In fact, many of the Chechen terrorists who attacked the Moscow theatre were women. Paul Sperry, author of "Infiltration.").

  • But will all of the security precautions we've taken protect us from future terrorists threats? The obvious answer is no. This statement in now way mitigates the outstanding work of our own intelligence agencies in the past decade. They've managed to prevent many terrorist attacks that we know of and many we'll never know about (Just in the last few weeks alone, Madrid and Canadian authorities busted several plots). Yet, even with all of the cameras we have in place, virtually none have prevented the attacks we know about. The cameras are immeasurably important in apprehending the bad guys, but not in stopping terrorism. In fact, many of the terrorist attacks we've prevented were foiled by observant citizens. The Times Square attempted bombing comes immediately to mind. It was averted by a street vendor. In fact, the captured Boston bomber was caught because of a citizen who alerted authorities.
  • All of this leaves me with these dilemmas: After every attack, our first inclination as a society is to increase surveillance and expand security resulting in more loss of freedom and privacy. It appears a reasonable thing to do. But is it? These actions also imply the more security we have, the safer we will be. But are we? I don't have the answers yet. But I do know this. Whether it's our nation or any other nation that expands its security surveillance to thwart further acts of terrorism, the terrorists will strike again. Perhaps it's just a question of whether we are willing to take further risks and maintain our freedoms or allow the government to continue to intervene. In other words, are we safer or do we just perceive we're safer when we really are not?

  • Breaking Now: It's being reported Mr. Obama has spent twice as much time on vacation and playing golf as he has in meetings about the economy. It breaks down to 976 hours on vacation vs. 474hours on the economy. Any wonder our economy has been in a world of sh!t? Government Accountability Institute