National security and personal privacy

When the rights of Guantanamo inmates are raised, some accept it as a requirement and justify it by the fact that their own privacy has also been infringed for security reasons. On the heels of the 9/11 happenings, a discreet program authorizing eavesdropping on the US citizens was signed by President Bush. The National Security Agency (NSA) program allows the monitoring and eavesdropping of electronic communication of US citizens without a warrant.

The scope of the program has initiated immense debate on the acceptability of the program, and whether it is in violation of the law. The level of surveillance required for maintaining national security and the acceptability level of US citizens are again subjects of controversy. The program is well ahead of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which had been followed since its implementation in 1978, for gathering intelligence.

Not much is known of the NSA program and has been speculated by newspaper reports that about 500 people in the US are under surveillance at any given time. Although the government on its part maintains that the NSA program is absolutely necessary and that it does not breach civil liberties, it is unfortunate it doesn’t see a need for a public opinion on the subject. People need to be assured of their privacy, just like the politicians want to be assured of national security.

Yet, it wouldn’t be proper to ask for privacy when that privacy can put the country to security risk (Keiber, 2006). One thing is however clear; the issues involved are complex and cannot be easily solved to everyone’s satisfaction. As terrorism has no boundaries of geography or time, this translates into indefinite intrusions into personal lives without any court permission.