As we debate the issue of combating terrorism in the 21st Century, a number of things come to mind. Ben Franklin once reflected that those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither. I support that assertion. History tells us the eventual providers of the “security” we seek, often become the tyrants who rob us of what remains. Nevertheless, we are faced with a global enemy who means to exploit our freedoms in order to murder innocents, (9/11, Boston Marathon etc…). So where is the balance? Frankly, I’m not sure there is one.
To be sure, “We the People” simply cannot allow our government carte blanche access to the privacy associated with our individual and unalienable rights as outlined in the Constitution. We must however accept that “terrorism police work” often requires the same “NCIS” tactics which glue us to the flat screen on Tuesday night. Consequently, in order to occupy that “national security” middle ground everyone is talking about, judicial oversight must be ever-present, relentless, and transparent, with swift and significant accountability for any abuses. Our freedoms are far too unambiguous and precious. Moreover, what we are seeing today is proof that “clandestine” data mining and the like, can corrupt even the most well-intentioned of efforts, especially if government is involved. So as keepers of that government, and if we continue to immerse ourselves in the wonders of rapidly advancing technology, then we must also be steadfast and diligent in policing its misuse.