OPINION

Juggling Freedom and Security

August 18, 2006
Q Bit

You, like any other good citizen have put your faith in the Government to do everything in their power to guarantee your security and freedom. And you, an honorable tax-paying law abiding citizen also expect the Government to do so without violating your rights under the constitution, and without encroaching your privacy and without dooming your civil liberties.

As it has become increasingly evident in recent times, we have a situation here.

Fundamentally, our way of life stands on the legs of Freedom and Security. We cannot have one without the other. We also cannot have both stretched to their limits. So, when we make our wishes, we also, perhaps begrudgingly accept the fine prints.

Only a fool would understate the difficult balance we seek today. We don't want to get blown up into pieces by the terrorists--we are also not ready to allow the Government to listen to our phone conversations and read our emails indiscriminately.

The Government wants us to choose between the two--freedom or security. That is, we cannot exercise our constitutional rights to have both--freedom and security. The Government forgets, quite willingly that it was sworn to uphold the constitution.

While we fight an invisible enemy hell bent to take us hostages in this war on terror, and who would go any length to destroy our core values--and vandalize our way of life, we also face the obligation to protect everything our enemies want to send to the graves with us.

Which is why today's ruling (LINK) by a Federal Judge that the warrantless wiretapping program promoted by the Government and carried out by the National Security Agency is unconstitutional and must be stopped immediately, should bring congruous smiles to the faces who realize the significance of the Statue of liberty.

This is an embarrassment to the present administration, which has demonstrated time and time again and beyond reasonable doubts their aggressive intent to bypass the Constitution and the due legal procedures.

Such frivolous practices were part of the former Soviet Union.

I don't think anyone would object to the fact that it is necessary to carry out wiretapping surveillance program for national security purposes. The question is how should it be done. You might be surprised but the answer is childishly simple.

All they--the smart folks in the NSA and Justice Department have to do is to go and convince a judge to give them a warrant to carry out their investigation. I don't see a problem as long as they have valid reasons.

In criminal investigations, such surveillance is routinely carried out by the law enforcement agencies after obtaining proper warrants. I never heard anybody complaining.

I understand that the authorities believe they have justifiable reasons for wiretapping individuals who are terrorists or perceived as threats to the national security. But their insistence to avoid the due process and reluctance to get a proper warrant is incomprehensible--unless of course the whole monitoring business is entirely without merits, or perhaps they have widened their net as much as they could and hoping to get lucky.

To me this looks like incompetence.

Yes, the authorities say that this is not being done indiscriminately--and these are the same people who lied to the country to get into a war that has now cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

The Bush administration had the trust of the people. They lost it.

By all means listen to the phone conversations, read the emails if that helps making everyone safer and more secure. But before you do so, get yourself a warrant.

Now, why is it so difficult?

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Juggling Freedom and Security

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Author: Q Bit

 

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#1
temporal
URL
August 19, 2006
10:21 AM

QB:

born free...and naked....we trade some liberties for security....

and in these exciting times the dilemma is how much the big brother should interfere in our lives?

where does caution ends and phobia begins?

#2
balaji
August 19, 2006
09:44 PM

thanks QB for rooting for balance.

phobia and paranoia are two conditions that any government would love - for they can 'leverage' the fear of ordinary citizens to push larger and more 'command & control' governments.

Mrs. G did that in India, Bush is doing, the others have done it.

Only vigilance of the civil society can constantly fight for the balance.

Every government tries to undermine the civil society. unfortunately.

#3
Sanjay
August 20, 2006
02:03 AM

Q Bit writes:
By all means listen to the phone conversations, read the emails if that helps making everyone safer and more secure. But before you do so, get yourself a warrant.

Now, why is it so difficult?


It's difficult because by the time you get a warrant, the terrorist may have slipped away. Remember the time when a Predator drone had Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden in its sights, but the officer in charge couldn't fire because he had to get authorization? Of course the bad guys got away, which is exactly what their sympathizers want.

Where did Iran get a warrant to arrest and interrogate a Canadian journalist in 2003? An autopsy on Ms Zahra Kazemi's body found that she died of a brain haemorrhage:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zahra_Kazemi

Can we keep perspective human rights in terms of recognizing the most egregious violators first, and criticizing them too? And these are Islamic states, just to be clear.

(I know, I know -- "BUT I DID CONDEMN Kazemi's murder -- you're JUST NOT LOOKING HARD ENOUGH!")

Selective and ethnically partisan liberalism is certainly not liberalism at all.

#4
Q Bit
URL
August 20, 2006
12:53 PM

@Sanjay
It's difficult because by the time you get a warrant, the terrorist may have slipped away.

we are talking about domestic spying. How do you know someone is a terrorist? If you do then you must be having some credible evidences to show for it. Just get those evidences to a judge.Period.

In case you don't have evidences, then it's illegal and unconstitutional.

Remember the time when a Predator drone had Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden in its sights, but the officer in charge couldn't fire because he had to get authorization? Of course the bad guys got away, which is exactly what their sympathizers want.

This is not relevant here.

And now your benchmark is Iran? Good stuff.

@Balaji: You are right. Governments everywhere in the world are power crazy--particularly the executive branch. That's why we have other branches for checks and balances.

@Temp: The interference of the big brother is unavoidable. Sad but true.

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