International spying has become a technology that keeps countries safe from wars and combats terrorism. President Obama, in one of his most recent speeches, announced that he would “tighten restrictions” on spying on international leaders. This means that the CIA and other international spying / intelligence gathering agencies will have to keep their spying “under the carpet” and away from the public and media’s eyes. President Obama also said in the same speech "America’s capabilities are unique,” “That places a special obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do to protect our country and citizens." One way that the government can spy on other countries is to place “bugs” inside embassies in the U.S.. A bug is a listening device that can either be on all of the time, or can be activated by sound. For example, if the CIA placed a bug inside the Iranian Embassy in Washington D.C., and “overheard” the occupants of the building talking about a nuclear bomb, the CIA would not be able to use that information in a court of law, but instead could use that info to seek and disable the nuke once they have heard the location of the bomb from the “bug”.
Security cameras are a very common form of domestic surveillance, and as Americans we see them on every street corner in metropolitan areas. They are the latest technology that is keeping our streets safe and they can also catch criminals in the act, like what happened with the Boston bombers and the tragedy at the finish line of last years Boston Marathon. Thankfully, the cameras mounted on Boylston Street in Boston, helped law enforcement quickly identify and capture the bombers. The moment that a civilian steps out of their house or car, they are now in the public eye, and are able to be rightfully spied on. Since the attacks on 9/11, Washington D.C. has added over 5,000 security cameras. New York has over 6,000 just in the lower manhattan area, also known as downtown New York. Chicago has added over 3,000 cameras, since the terrorist attacks.
The Prism Program collects data from many unsuspecting United States citizens. The Prism Program allowed the NSA to the monitor phone and email data of almost every American. It also allowed the NSA to search browsing history, even if the browsing was conducted in a “Private Mode.” PRISM, allowed the agency to access major American Internet companies. The man who leaked this information to the press, is Edward Snowden and he disclosed this information on a website named “WIKILeaks.” He was a CIA computer technician, who would have had limited contacts within The NSA because of his relatively low security clearance. As any agency employee, every agent is sworn in. By leaking this information, Edward Snowden violated his sworn oath. Some may argue that he never met anyone within the NSA, because of his low level of clearance. Snowden has since left America, and has defected to Russia. He is being charged by the United States government with treason. If he is convicted of treason he would most likely receive the death penalty because this is a federal crime. The United States is trying to have the Russian President, Vladimir Putin return Snowden to America, where the government will have him face trial. This issue sparked an international controversy. There were rumors that the U.S. Olympic Team might not attend this years games in Sochi, Russia because Russian President Putin has refused to return Snowden back to the United States. Over all of the years that they have conducted this program, Edward Snowden said that the NSA had used PRISM to successfully stop one attack, which is better than not stopping any.
In my opinion, spying, both international and domestic, has Pros and Cons. It keeps people around the world safe from unthinkable acts, but it also allows the government or whomever is spying to look through a glass door into random civilian lives which may or may not be at stake. I think that the NSA spying is both good and bad. It keeps this great country safe from attacks, and possibly could have prevented tragic events like the September eleventh attacks in New York, that killed over three thousand innocent people. The bad side of the surveillance is the fact that the NSA was breaking the Fourth Amendment which states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." The Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement agents to establish "probable cause" and obtain court-issued warrants for any searches or seizures. I agree with the NSA. It is necessary to give up privacy to be protected. Similar to what Thomas Hobbes said in his idea of a social contract between the government and it civilians, where individuals give up some freedoms for some security by the government. If the NSA wasn’t looking over this country, who knows how many attacks would have happened and how many lives would have been lost. As the saying goes, “Better safe than sorry”.
The NSA argues that they protect this country from horrible things through undetectable observation, but opponents say that the NSA’s surveillance violates a Constitutional right, because as American citizens, we have the right to partial and impartial privacy inside our personal lives. Should Edward Snowden be charged with treason? Do you think that Edward Snowden signed up to leak this information or do you think that he merely stumbled on to it and had to tell the world of this problem? If the PRISM Program is still ongoing, what is your opinion on the matter of privacy and the boundaries of spying? Was the NSA’s surveillance necessary, and is it constitutional to violate the fourth amendment and its citizens privacy, on behalf of “national security?”