The Daily Star
---- — Revelations that the National Security Agency has been monitoring our communications in apparent violation of the Fourth Amendment is causing quite a stir, but partisans are already trying to use it for their own ends. If that happens, the republic will have lost an important opportunity to set things right.
Both parties share responsibility for this program; it began in the Patriot Act and grew under Obama. Laying blame on one party or another for partisan gain will be easy, but irresponsible, because our first responsibility is to our country, and not our party. If we miss an opportunity to forge a national consensus on this matter, and turn it into another useless cycle of the blame game, we neglect that duty — to the nation, and to ourselves.
When the Patriot Act was passed, these same concerns were raised, but were shouted down by an American people willing to sacrifice a little liberty for the illusion of security. All qualms about civil liberties were set aside. Once in place, the program grew according to its own internal logic, supported by all sides.
That is why, properly approached, this disclosure is so important for the future of our country; it can open the way to a thorough debate on the issues the program’s existence raises, and, as a nation, we can have a hand in choosing our future.
That discussion will, by necessity, have to include the loss of privacy to private businesses as well as to the government; it’s the co-existence of the activity in both spheres that’s taking us into a dark future. But if we allow that reality to be lost, the opportunity to turn the ship of state aright will also be lost.
Don’t let that happen.