I can’t speak about how Americans feel in general about this program, but I can speak about how I personally feel. If I am to believe the words of the whistleblower who brought all this out to the public, I am scared_and_upset. On the other hand, if I am to believe the words of everyone else sitting on the other side of the fence, I should be OK. The problem is, whose words should you believe?
Edward Snowden is a 29 year old programmer who was part of the team which supposedly developed PRISM. So you would think he knows what he’s talking about. Therefore, unless we want to believe that the man is a paranoid schizophrenic, we should be worried. Indeed, we must.
That said, everyone else on the other side are either politicians (not exactly the most sincere and trustworthy bunch) and NSA agents (in my opinion, they rank the same as politicians when it comes to garnering public trust).
My personal conclusion is, I actually believe both.
But first, let’s analyze how we are set today.
Many apparently fail to realize that, just because jet fighters aren’t flying over our heads all the time and not all men have been drafted to go to Europe or the Pacific, it doesn’t mean we’re not at war. Our new found enemies aren’t always well identified states wherein we can drop bombs, flatten everything out, and be done with it. Our enemy is, more often than not, an idea. And one for which so many people are ready to die.
We may call them fanatics, lunatics, or any other epitome but the fact remains that they don’t just hate us, they hate everything we stand for.
America has been the beacon of freedom inspiring every revolution towards democracy for the last 200 years. It was the first democratic country of the modern world, and the only one today which hasn’t known tyranny. This has come at a high cost as we’ve helped bring that democracy also to Europe and Asia, but for those who hate us, they do it because they believe we’ve helped crash their aspirations along the way.
Let’s face it, mistakes were made, interests were trampled and squashed; for the sake of our own safety, we helped create situations for which we pay the price today. The situation in Palestine, the recent uprising from tyranny across the Arab world, the issues in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are the results of previous mistakes or short sighted political choices of the past.
And so today, we face an enemy with neither face nor place but is, nevertheless, well armed and ready to die. How do you stop a person from causing you harm if that person is ready to blow himself up in order to kill you? The only way to prevent the worse is to identify that person and stop him/her before he has a chance to even get armed. And this is called spying; there’s no way around it.
After Boston, we’re all asking why the FBI didn’t stop them earlier; they were known, they’d been visited before; but nothing was done. Yet when we discovered that information is being collected, we cringe. We want the cake and we want to eat it too. Our law enforcement agencies need tools to be able to prevent issues rather than clean up the mess after the fact. I personally would much rather give up a small part of my freedom to allow the FBI to do its work. I really have nothing to hide ~ if they want to store this email, so be it. I doubt anyone will ever use it against me. I need to trust that we live in a true democracy, one where what I put in writing will never be used against me only because it wasn’t in line with the establishment’s opinion. If I cannot trust the government of the longest standing democracy of the modern world, maybe it’s time that we arm ourselves and take the Bastille once more.
But I doubt we’re in that situation today.
We have a Congress wherein representatives are ready to go at each other’s throat for just about anything. I do believe that if a gross misuse of the PRISM program were to be detected, it would raise outrage within Congress and our interests would be protected.
We aren’t in Italy in the 20s, where Matteotti was murdered for daring to denounce the fascists’ raise to power. No, we’re in America. We’ve numerous checks and balances in place, and I want to, no, I need to believe that a program like PRISM is truly there only to protect us, not to be used against us.
Am I comfortable?
Do I think PRISM should be cancelled?
I believe we’ve already caused enough harm by publicizing it so much. Why? Well, because this allows our enemies to create countermeasures. I do think we need to ensure that the system is in place only to do what it is supposed to be doing, and it isn’t abused, in any shape or form, today or ever. It’s not easy, of course, but it’s the only way that’ll work as we fight this strange war against an enemy we cannot pinpoint, who could very well be living next door to us, or halfway across the world.