Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 24, 2013

Those who reveal nasty secrets should be thanked

The recent events surrounding the National Security Agency’s surveillance program have unfolded with the blink of an eye.

For anyone who does not know, whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former contractor employed by the NSA, released documents on PRISM, a program used to collect information from companies ranging from Google, AT&T, Yahoo, Verizon, and many others.

This information includes phone calls, emails, and other personal records being collected from millions of citizens. It was also mentioned that the NSA was collecting information from other countries, Germany being one of them.

Upon hearing this, German politician Markus Ferber compared these tactics to those of the Stasi of East Germany.

I have heard many people criticize Snowden for being a “traitor” and risking our “national security.” I am writing this letter to tell those critics why they are wrong.

According to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This information has and is being collected from millions of citizens without a warrant or probable cause.

Does this mean that the government considers everyone a suspect of some sort? Even if this is the case, it is being carried out unconstitutionally.

Those who say this program is a safeguard against terrorism are mistaken.

It is possible that it might have prevented a few, but when countering this argument, three incidents should come to mind: the “Underwear Bomber,” the attempted bombing of Time Square and the Boston Marathon bombings.

The “Underwear Bomber” would have been successful if his bomb had gone off; this program did not stop him from boarding the plane in the first place.

In my opinion, the man responsible for the attempted Time Square bombing was caught by street cameras and suspicious onlookers, not internet/phone surveillance.

The men responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings were, unfortunately, successful.

Due to these incidents, I fail to see any indication on how this surveillance program is helping to prevent terrorism.

We should be thanking Edward Snowden for releasing this information to an otherwise uninformed citizenry. He was very careful about what he wanted to release so as to not put peoples’ lives at risk.

When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, which revealed that the U.S. government knew that it was fighting an unwinnable war, did we accuse him of treason and throw him in prison? Of course not!

Whistleblowers who expose these types of secrets should not be forced into hiding, but congratulated.

It is time for those who are disillusioned from listening to their bickering representatives and cable news channels to wake up and call for an end to this highly intrusive and unconstitutional surveillance program.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” Benjamin Franklin

Eric J. Szymanski II

Cumberland

 

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