Many stories of government surveillance and/or what steps to be made to curb the feast of information initiated by the NSA has inundated the headlines since mid 2013. Hero/Villain such as Snowden and his odessey has brought the specter of the Patriot Act into full view. The strawman terrorist the act was intended for has fallen away to reveal the American people in its shadow, shone through the light of surveillance. To be clear, neither is this an Orwellian state or a conspiracy theorists dream/nightmare come true. The dichotomy of Safety/Intrusion helps to inform us of extremes presented but not of its origins. .
Many legislators (until public scrutiny), law enforcement and government agencies prescribe to a Safety/Risky dichotomy. Through unhindered access to information the US is safe and will continue to stay that way. True patriotism requires access to even the most mundane of personal information which will be kept inaccessible but to only the essential government agencies. Risking another 911 by honoring public privacy is unacceptable and by sacrificing privacy, America gains security.
US citizens, legislators (under public scrutiny), and civil liberties advocates draw a Intrusion/Privacy dichotomy. NSA monitoring of non-suspicious citizens stifles rights, freedoms and privacy endowed to the people by the constitution. The right to privacy has been circumvented for the apparent need of a ‘police state’ of communication. The intrusion into public communication is a herald of other rights to fall by the wayside in the name of public safety.
As this inevitable exposure of our suppressive public policy is debated and discussed from local diners to Capital Hill. Hopefully a reflection of the dubiously named Patriot Act will transport us back to the time of September 11, 2001where America was faced with the dichotomy of Patriotism or Personal Rights. The crowbar of fear under the banner of patriotism (intentionally or not) manipulated America. Under the pressure of terrorism, death and uncertainty we psychologically retreated into the perceived haven of restrictive legislation. Hopefully, now that time and perspective has passed we can objectively evaluate the suppressive laws passed under duress and I shudder to think of what oppression we could have shackled ourselves to in the name of patriotism.