Freedom Is Dangerous But I Still Want Mine

December 18, 2005

President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without judicial oversight. Typically if law enforcement agencies want to spy on you they have to present their reasons before a judge and the judge has to say “yes I see why you need to do this,” but not anymore. The NSA has been listening to our phone calls without having to answer to anyone about why.

One disturbing fact about this is that the New York Times knew about it a year ago but didn’t report it. The Bush administration told them not to so they didn’t. Don’t even get me started on the whole myth of liberal media bias.

Mr. Bush says that everything he did was perfectly legal. He’s outraged that we all found out about it because this secret spying is “critical in saving American lives.” But the legality of this executive order is certainly not universally agreed upon, to say nothing of its appropriateness even if it isn’t illegal.

Does it raise no red flags for patriotic and thoughtful Republicans that our president is being so cavalier with our civil liberties, the rule of law and indeed the truth itself? We had a war whose primary justification proved to be utterly false; we had the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act which among other disturbing items allowed law enforcement to secretly learn what books we check out from the library; we had Abu Ghraib; we had battles between congress and the White House about how much torture we can administer to detainees; we had credible reports of secret prisons. At what point do the freedom-loving Republicans who support the Bush administration become concerned about this? I’m especially thinking of the passionate defenders of freedom who howl with bloodlust if anyone suggests that we restore capital gains tax the “death tax” to Clinton-era levels. How can it be that they are so sensitive to undue government intrusion into our lives and wallets and yet remain totally unconcerned about admitted secret spying on Americans?

Perhaps they simply see the sense in the president’s argument: this erosion of our civil liberties is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. If cops want to listen to the phone calls of sinister dark-skinned men without the permission of (liberal! activist!) judges, let them; at least we will never have another 9/11. But I have a different view.

Freedom is dangerous. It comes with risk. We could have a cop on every street corner frisking passersby at will. I’m sure they would catch all kinds of things that people shouldn’t have: weapons, drugs, books. But I don’t think any of us want to live in a country where such intrusions are accepted. Letting people have their privacy certainly allows for some to do bad things, but it also allows all of us to live with freedom. I’ll take that risk. Safety is always used as the excuse when the government comes to take away your rights. You want to give up your freedom for safety? You do that. Me, I’ll risk it.


No comments yet

  1. Yes freedom is the better and I think also safer choice.

    I would like the subjects of the phone taps to be reviewed, I don’t believe for a moment that the neocons could resist using that power for political and personal gain.

    Were political opponents in the last elections “Investigated for terrorist activity” if you know what I mean? How about spying to get the upper hand in a governmental vote in the house or senate or just some corprate buisness deal or the stock market.

  2. Even I am not that cynical – yet.

  3. Persons with links to terrorists, Persons with links to terrorists, Persons with links to terrorists, Persons with links to terrorists, Persons with links to terrorists, Persons with links to terrorists, Persons with links to terrorists, Persons with links to terrorists,

    When are you liberals going to get it through your thick skulls we are at WAR

  4. How exactly does anyone know what “links” these people had, Fred? The usual checks on police powers, i.e. judicial oversight, has been illegally bypassed. They could be anyone at all, couldn’t they? If not please explain. I suppose it’s likely that there was legitimate suspicion on these people, but that’s not the point: the point is that nobody knows, and that’s not right and that’s not the United States of America I knew last week.

  5. Bush holding hands with his uncle Bandar fred, bandar is related to Osama bin Laden is he not? Bush is easily a person with links to terrorists by their own criteria. I think the neocons should have taps on their phones because they have shown themselves to be untrustworthy at every damn thing they do.

  6. I hope you know that the nature of this post now puts you on the suspected terrorist list, and liable to be phone & computer tapped. What kind of American are you who doesn’t support our president making him safer from all those big bad evil people out there? If he was smart, he’d suspend and ignore a few other parts of the constitution and start quartering soldiers in our house to keep us extra safe! Not to mention running for a third term. Or maybe even President-for-Life.


  7. Oh…No…Not the “list” There goes the Neighborhood.

  8. Scott,
    The “Little Red Book” story that you are linking to on this entry is a hoax. See http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/12/24/students_tall_tale_revealed/

  9. I heard that, too! Thanks for the link, Mykl.

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