Benjamin Franklin Summary Response Outline
In 1759, Benjamin Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This can be interpreted in multiple different ways, including that those who give up liberty will not be able to get it back. When people give up a “little” liberty, they give up all of their liberty by letting the government weave itself into their lives.
These words spoken by one of the greatest intellectuals of that time correctly portrays how freedom is lost because of civilians’ acceptance of the NSA. Relating to the unlawfulness of the NSA, it was said that “...almost all of the applicable “law,” when it comes to the National Security Agency and its surveillance practices, was secret until Edward Snowden began releasing his documents” (Van Buren, 2014). Typically, people are given warning if there is a possibility for them to commit a crime, i.e. a sign saying “do not park between hours x and y” or being taught laws through parents and schools. But no one was given a warning through an announcement of the Internet surveillance. They didn't ask for permission for any of those they spy on, so that begs the question: what else can they do or have done without the knowledge of the general public? Apparently, anything judging by the willingness and nonchalance of about half of the people in the United States.
However, the NSA protects the citizens, and if the government truly has bad intentions the general public will push back against the questionable acts. The people still have their freedom to take back their rights. The government isn't allowed to interfere with “the right to peaceably assemble” (Madison). If the people want change, then they are able to get it through protests and petitions. It’s a right, and the most important rights will be defended. Change can happen, even if it's a bit difficult to gain momentum at first.
Many people think that the rights infringed upon via government surveillance aren’t important and don’t pertain to them. We cannot deny that most of the people in the United States will not be arrested because of the NSA, but it’s more complicated than that. If the government can ignore the Fourth Amendment given in the Bill of Rights, then they, if they feel it’s “necessary”, have the power to ignore all of our rights. It happened during the Cold War, when communist practices were prohibited by the Communist Control Act of 1954. Those laws also don’t apply to anyone the president decides to jail. They can target and detain any U.S. citizen without “process of due law.” They are allowed to fly drones over the U.S. to spy on civilians, and that’s not the end of the countless times the Bill of Rights has been ignored.
The metaphorical line has been crossed, and it doesn’t seem like the government is going to step back any time soon. We the people have given them the power to do what they’ve been doing. Liberty can’t be exchanged for safety. Both only exist when they are separate and balanced. “We the people” need to make evaluations about what the government’s intentions are in order to turn back on the Orwellian path this country is headed towards.