Surveillance: What Price Security?

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Surveillance: What Price Security? Attorney General John Ashcroft stated that the United States will "use every legal means at our disposal to prevent further terrorist activity." This concept is both reassuring and frightening. I think that it shows that our country is in fact motivated to stop terrorist attacks, which is undeniably a good thing. If the government can tap phones and monitor Internet communications to learn about planned terrorist activity, than I think they should be allowed to do so. Ashcroft promised to "do everything we can to harmonize the constitutional rights of individuals." If he does plan to abide by this statement, than expanded surveillance will be a good thing. However, I fear that the government will not follow through with this. Shortly after the world trade center bombings the senate unanimously passed an amendment allowing the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to install nationwide "traps and traces" to capture information from both telephone calls and electronic messages with the approval of a single judge.

I believe that it is very possible that they will use the expanded surveillance for reasons other than combating terrorism. More specifically, I believe they will use the newfound legal status of violating citizen's civil liberties to fight the drug war. I could easily imagine a scenario where government agencies use surveillance to gain information about planned drug trafficking. Personally I am not a drug dealer, but I am a proud drug user and support the legalization of certain substances. I think its ludicrous to allow alcohol and tobacco to be legal, while seemingly harmless substances such as marijuana can land people in jail. It violates individual's constitutional rights. Rastafarians are not allowed to legally practice freedom of religion in America. What happened to "the pursuit of happiness"? Victimless crimes should not...