www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Flexing muscles -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Blacks must confront reality -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

The leadership scam -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Green monster -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

The resurrection of Rick Perry -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Senate campaign -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Right to be heard? -8/26/2014, 10:08 AM

Over-covering Ferguson -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

Figuring out the tax debate -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

An obvious ploy -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Not-so-beautiful sunset -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Cannabis therapy -- Why bother? -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Business climate of Kansas -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

James Foley: Courage in the face of danger -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Festering wound -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Big banks settling -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Tuition pays for this -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

College textbook scam -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Policing a riot -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Evil strikes back -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Art appreciation -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Abuse of power -8/20/2014, 8:22 AM

Ferguson police arrest reporters for reporting -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Don't 'got milk' -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Another road map to success? -8/19/2014, 10:05 AM

It's the abuse of power, stupid -8/19/2014, 10:04 AM

Riots in Ferguson, and what they mean -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

One of billions -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

The GOP presents: Barack-nado -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Media and Missouri: What's going on? -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Answer the bell -8/15/2014, 8:58 AM

Get ready for denials -8/15/2014, 8:49 AM

Mental illness -8/15/2014, 8:49 AM

Mindless drones -8/14/2014, 9:27 AM

Can-do attitude -8/14/2014, 9:27 AM

'Poor door' -- a symbol of a truth we all know -8/13/2014, 9:19 AM

Eyeing the Ogallala Aquifer -8/13/2014, 9:19 AM

The slacker congress -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

CIA vs. Senate -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

The cannabis conundrum -- we against us -8/11/2014, 8:55 AM

The debate is over -8/11/2014, 8:54 AM

The 'Almost' Revolution -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

Is cross a history lesson or state religion? -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

Another downgrade -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

State economy plays critical role in the future of FHSU -8/10/2014, 2:09 PM

Building on past successes for a stronger future -8/10/2014, 2:09 PM

Will Palin's channel rival Comedy Central? -8/8/2014, 9:25 AM

Western anti-Semitism -8/8/2014, 9:25 AM

Patrolmen without borders -8/7/2014, 10:13 AM

Not a choice -8/7/2014, 10:12 AM

Ebola politics -8/7/2014, 10:12 AM

Too few voters -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

A special breed -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

A license to vote -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

Selfies in Auschwitz -- and why it's wrong -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

Election turnout -8/5/2014, 9:19 AM

Dairy's closing -8/5/2014, 9:19 AM

Concealing the Statehouse debate -8/5/2014, 9:18 AM

Beauty all around us -8/5/2014, 9:18 AM

Needing another senator -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Doing what he said -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Needing a new understanding of energy -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Do-nothing Congress -8/3/2014, 12:02 PM

Seeking the ultimate 'redress of grievances' -8/3/2014, 11:43 AM

Kansas values -8/3/2014, 11:43 AM

A candidate with morals, integrity -8/3/2014, 11:43 AM

Huelskamp deserves vote -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

One third of 1 percent makes difference -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

Vote for our future -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

Reaching a limit -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

Please stop helping us -8/1/2014, 10:57 AM

Deadly double standards -8/1/2014, 10:57 AM

Huelskamp's attention to detail -8/1/2014, 10:57 AM

Surprise, surprise, surprise -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Medicaid expansion a win-win for Kansas -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Term limits are first step -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Vote for what's right -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

The next governor -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Shultz is the pick -7/31/2014, 10:11 AM

Eyeing the children -7/30/2014, 9:01 AM

Speak from the heart -7/30/2014, 9:01 AM

Changing attitudes -7/30/2014, 9:01 AM

Time to replace Huelskamp -7/30/2014, 9:00 AM

Water vision -7/29/2014, 9:48 AM

No longer a supporter -7/29/2014, 9:47 AM

The power of punctuation -7/29/2014, 9:47 AM

Running for the wrong bus -7/28/2014, 9:04 AM

Old Old Mexico -- Culture and content -7/28/2014, 9:03 AM

The defining issue of economic recovery -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

In a world of sectarian violence, what can be done? -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

Funding DHDC -7/27/2014, 1:18 PM

Endorsement for Shultz -7/25/2014, 3:28 PM

Against the wind -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Do blacks need favors? -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Vote Huelskamp out -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Open meetings -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Leadership change needed -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Vote for Huelskamp -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Protecting unborn children -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Learning experience valuable -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Uncle Sam and his ever-growing dragnet

Published on -6/21/2013, 9:23 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

In 1929, Secretary of State Henry Stimson dismantled the department charged with breaking codes and learning other nations' secrets.

Asked why, he said: "Gentlemen don't read other gentlemen's mail." Some sources quote him less elegantly as saying "each other's mail," but you get the gist. And boy, have we ever come a long way.

We still pay lip service to our "right to privacy," but in reality we don't have one. When you make a phone call, send email, buy something online, or arrange for an automatic withdrawal from your bank, you open up your life to people who would seek to mine it for their own purposes, good and evil.

Privacy? That's so 20th century.

The latest assault on our private lives was revealed the other day when an employee of a private contractor revealed that the National Security Agency is clocking all our calls and emails -- where they're coming from, where they're going.

The authorities say widespread snooping is a vital tool in our never-ending fight against terrorism.

This dragnet has some people deeply upset. Others, not so much. It clearly falls short of the Orwellian nightmare of actual eavesdropping -- so they tell us -- but that dystopian nightmare is only a click away.

It's time to worry.

The young man who gave away the game said he did it out of patriotism.

"The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong," said Edward Snowden.

President Barack Obama said he welcomed the debate. Then he sent his agents out hunting for Snowden, perhaps to give him the Medal of Freedom. Not.

The situation is a real curveball for conservatives. They hate Obama and live to criticize him.

But they also love national security above life itself and would never stand in its way, no matter what. They think Snowden is a traitor and should be hanged (if not dismembered).

Liberals are also in a delicate spot. They're very suspicious of the gigantic national security apparatus we've built and don't like the idea of the government being able to snoop on their private conversations. Progressives wanted Obama to put an end to that sort of thing, not expand it.

As a result, many liberals consider Snowden a hero, like Daniel Ellsberg, the fellow who spirited the Pentagon Papers to the newspapers that published them.

Ellsberg himself has said Snowden's leak was even more important than his own. He also likened the vast surveillance operations to the extremes seen in East Germany, declaring "the so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America."

I feel very strongly both ways.

On the one hand, I think the Constitution does grant us a right to privacy. The document may not do so explicitly, but this right is embedded in the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, religious freedom, and the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. We have a right to be left alone unless the government can give us a very good reason to the contrary.

On the other hand, I have no desire to get blown up when I go to my neighborhood coffee shop. I'm willing to give the government a good deal of leeway to prevent that.

It's been nearly 12 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We haven't had a truly major event like it since and that's probably not an accident. I think our security forces are doing something right.

All presidents face this balancing act between freedom and security. Pretty much all of them, regardless of ideology, come down on the side of playing it safe.

I guess I'm OK with that, sort of. I just wonder where it's all going to lead. One minute, the government is tracking your phone calls.

The next minute, you're living in East Germany.

OtherWords.org columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.

Kansas News