Security and freedom

Recently, two “natural enemies,” a Democrat and a Republican, agreed that “our intelligence services are not the bad guys” in the terrorism fight. This is a troubling alliance.

First, “neither lawmaker offered specifics about what led them to their conclusions,” except that “terror is up worldwide.”

Second, when adversaries agree, Americans need to be wary. The core of their remarks centered on recent NSA revelations and that these disclosures “hurt anti-terror efforts.” Were they hinting at greater freedom restrictions to come?

Third, when opponents agree, where is the debate? Adversarial agreement implies secrecy; secrecy invites corruption.

“Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places … and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.” (Woodrow Wilson)

In the name of security: Watchful cameras are ubiquitous; gun control promoted; free speech is under assault; e-mails are scanned; cell phone calls intercepted; and internet use monitored. Are we prepared to cede more freedom for an elusive security, for a greater authoritarian government?

One example: the authoritarian tyranny at airports with the groping of citizens in the name of security. If an individual did this they would be arrested. Jefferson said, “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”

“There is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.” (John Kennedy)

We must not yield to the seduction that “security” is more important than our personal freedoms. It isn’t!

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” (James Madison) 

Ken Schaefer 


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