Monday, July 1, 2013

The Balance Between Security and Freedom

The revelations about NSA's PRISM program, and US spying on European diplomats, has caused many Europeans to lose their trust in the US government.  This article is by a German politician who explains why German's are so sensitive to these reports.  They had lost trust in the US government under George Bush and they had high hopes for the Obama presidency.  They have been disappointed by Obama's inability to close down Guantanamo and because of his defense of NSA.

When German's learned about the storing of digital communication data, that was legal under the European Constitution, they took actions to change the Constitution.  Most American's, who have not experienced secret police practices which promised security with the loss of personal freedom, seem to be supportive of US spying.  They tend to believe that only terrorists need to be concerned about government spying.  They support police brutality for similar reasons.  Only criminals need to be worried about police brutality.  Hopefully, we will not have to experience the Gestapo and the Stasi to become more concerned about the weapons that we have given to government.

I have also been disappointed by my president.  My concern, however, goes beyond the office of the president.  Any president that we elect will inherit a national security apparatus that has grown and become more sophisticated over many years.  George Bush took advantage of that apparatus.  Its not clear whether a president who has concerns about that apparatus can do much about it.  Our president's only become aware of the power at their disposal after they are elected to office,  and it will live after they leave.  They are "short-tirmers" in the eyes of bureaucrats who have built the system.

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