Sacrificing liberty: how we don’t let terrorists win



Barrett, Tom

Slightly over a month ago, President Bush signed a bill that would allow U.S. intelligence agencies to modestly increase their surveillance abilities – namely by allowing them to tap any international calls made or to read electronic messages sent from within the United States to foreign terror suspects without trudging through the long and painfully tedious process of obtaining a legal warrant.

Of course, there are a select few individuals across the country who claim that such a course of action violates the U.S. citizenry’s right to privacy and is discriminatory, but most people are just plain upset at the fact that our government officials are positing this six-month plan as sufficient in protecting the livelihood of this nation’s inhabitants.

While these increased security measures may be a step in the right direction, they are far from being adequate to eliminate all potential terrorist threats in and outside of this country.

What terrorists want most is to significantly alter our uniquely American way of life, and, if we do not want them to succeed, we are left with only once choice: we must change the way we do things and even sacrifice some of our freedoms and liberties to do so.

While it may make us feel safe and secure having someone listening in on our phone calls or proofreading our e-mails for us, this type of surveillance is merely scratching the tip of the iceberg. Just think about all of the other forms of communication that are being neglected: we still have good old-fashioned snail mail, and – for those of us capable of it – we can’t forget about mindspeak. If you ask me, allowing physically sealed messages and telekinetic communications to cross this nation’s border is one heck of a loophole we have in the system and is completely unacceptable.

Perhaps we should turn the clocks back a half century or so, dust off our Cold War playbook and check out some of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s pages. While the former senator has been given somewhat of a bad name over the years, his ambitions deterred thousands of godless Communists from harming the United States or its citizens. It is true that one or two innocent people may have been wrongly accused in the process, but like I said before, sometimes sacrifices must be made. With the nation in a similar situation today, not knowing whom to trust and all, perhaps it is time we let history repeat itself.

Ideally though, we would have a system that operated as well as the one described in George Orwell’s classic novel, “1984.” That Big Brother really knew how to run a country. Unfortunately, although we are 23 years into the future, we still lack the technological capabilities that would allow us to maintain our security so thoroughly and efficiently.

Freedom isn’t free, and, unfortunately, there is a largely increasing number of people out there in the world who want to make sure we never forget that fact. It would be nice if we could maintain the smaller things like the right to privacy, free speech, the right not to be discriminated against, due process, etc., but every now and then you have to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Sometimes, in order to protect your country’s most integral beliefs, you have to compromise your most sacred values.


Tom Barrett is a junior philosophy major from Colonia, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].