Few favor less government intervention in our lives than do I. And few value the freedom of privacy more than do I. But we're living in dangerous times and unfortunately those times require drastic measures. Case in point - the USA Patriot Act.
The anti-terrorist Patriot Act gives the federal government broad powers to monitor the activities of those suspected of terrorist activities. Like any other loosely-defined measure, this issue has the potential for abuse. But the times are indeed dangerous so we have to carefully weigh the balance of freedom with the protection of this country.
Lawmakers of both parties are now voicing concerns over the explosion of "national security letters" that allows the feds to monitor the e-mails, phone calls and other activities of those suspected of terrorist ties. As many as 30,000 of these "national security letters" are being issued each year. That large number has some lawmakers questioning just who the FBI is monitoring and why.
I don't know if we should be concerned over this expansion of monitoring. I'm astonished that there are that many residents in this country with suspicious connections that would prompt the FBI to monitor their activities. But I also have to have a level of faith and trust in the FBI that they will monitor only those with some terrorist connection. Our other choice is to eliminate the monitoring and that scares the heck out of me.
As you would expect, the American Civil Liberties Union is hot under the collar over the monitoring requests. They argue the policy restrains free speech. And they might well be right. But the world today is frightening on countless levels and I am willing to gamble the privacy and free speech issues to assure safety for my children and grandchildren.
There is no easy answer to this question and there never will be. But we do know that there are those within this country who would bring harm and disruption to our way of life if left unchallenged. Am I willing to risk potential abuse to a few in return for greater safety for all? Yes, I am willing to make that gamble.