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Was the leaking of the NSA by Snowden

ben2974
Posts: 767
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9/16/2013 11:40:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
the right or wrong thing to do?

Without the United States populace knowing, the National Security Agency has been actively tapping in and recording any and all calls made. I don't want an answer on whether or not the particular actions Snowden took were right or wrong (as in his means to achieve his goal); I simply want to know if it is right that the populace deserves to know what their government is doing and how much it is penetrating into the personal lives of its own people. Can hidden actions by ANY government that infiltrate the personal lives of its people be justified (to be right)?

Thanks in advance for a hopefully engaging discussion!
Sahaj
Posts: 4
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9/16/2013 12:39:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Well, it is a highly subjective topic, of course. My opinion is this :
A democratic government is defined as being of the people, by the people, and for the people. In essence, it serves the people. And thus, logically, the people have a right to know what their government, whom THEY put in power, are doing. For after all, if all governments began doing things in secret, how is it democracy? One of the cornerstones of democracy is transparency of government, and we are seeing that this was woefully absent in the PRISM program. And the basic human right that any citizen of any country in the world should have is the right to privacy, the right to conduct his actions without being constantly scrutinized and spied on by ANY form of authority. And if this is not present, then we have transformed our world into some sort of Orwellian dystopia where "Big Brother is watching you". Defenders of the program will no doubt say that the US has the best interests in mind of it's citizens, and is only trying to defeat terrorism, but is this really true? Remember, the US was fine with supporting Saddam Hussein's regime for years, then decided they didn't like him anymore and labelled him a terrorist. Can we trust their arbitrary justifications? It would seem they can call anyone they want a terrorist and spy on them, under the USA PATRIOT act, and the PRISM program facilitates and catalyzes this. And terrorism is defined as the systemic use of terror as a means of coercion. Is not the USA creating terror not only in it's own citizens but those of the world, as a means of coercion and furthering it's own goals? Therefore I believe PRISM is wrong, and no violation of privacy and individual rights can be justified. The end should not justify the means.
ben2974
Posts: 767
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9/16/2013 3:00:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/16/2013 12:39:41 PM, Sahaj wrote:
Well, it is a highly subjective topic, of course. My opinion is this :
A democratic government is defined as being of the people, by the people, and for the people. In essence, it serves the people. And thus, logically, the people have a right to know what their government, whom THEY put in power, are doing. For after all, if all governments began doing things in secret, how is it democracy? One of the cornerstones of democracy is transparency of government, and we are seeing that this was woefully absent in the PRISM program. And the basic human right that any citizen of any country in the world should have is the right to privacy, the right to conduct his actions without being constantly scrutinized and spied on by ANY form of authority. And if this is not present, then we have transformed our world into some sort of Orwellian dystopia where "Big Brother is watching you". Defenders of the program will no doubt say that the US has the best interests in mind of it's citizens, and is only trying to defeat terrorism, but is this really true? Remember, the US was fine with supporting Saddam Hussein's regime for years, then decided they didn't like him anymore and labelled him a terrorist. Can we trust their arbitrary justifications? It would seem they can call anyone they want a terrorist and spy on them, under the USA PATRIOT act, and the PRISM program facilitates and catalyzes this. And terrorism is defined as the systemic use of terror as a means of coercion. Is not the USA creating terror not only in it's own citizens but those of the world, as a means of coercion and furthering it's own goals? Therefore I believe PRISM is wrong, and no violation of privacy and individual rights can be justified. The end should not justify the means.

This is a really nice response and I totally agree with what you say. Government stunts like these only help to fortify lingering distrust among its own people, and even widen that breach of trust. Trusting in others is something I believe to be a fundamental value to pursue, as it creates an ease of tension and therefore an easier access to interpersonal understanding. I know (I feel) that the USA is a society that focuses highly on the individual and people seem to have a sense of suspect with every new person they see walking down the street! Basically, distrust is in the air in America; and the NSA reveal just makes everything that much worse between every American. The government is an identity (an embodiment) of the people, just as you have said, and they've shown the world that Americans fear (cannot even trust) themselves.

In the end, Sahaj, I do not think this is a subjective debate but rather simply an endeavor to find the best, and therefore the right answer to this moral dilemma. It seems you have answered with a democratic ideal in mind (as the USA supposedly follows democratic principles). And within these ideals, you've explained your case regarding the NSA leak, one in which I agree with. So then, I may ask: if this problem is a matter of opinion, then can this problem be approached utilizing different ideology? If this were to happen in a totalitarian state, for example, would there be an adjustment to the way one would be obliged to respond to this dilemma? I think not.

What i'm trying to say is that no matter how you look at this single issue, there will be but one answer - and it will always be the same answer.
ben2974
Posts: 767
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9/16/2013 3:03:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Though, to add, I think I found my answer right here, but who knows. Maybe you have some other justification(s)?

"And the basic human right that any citizen of any country in the world should have is the right to privacy, the right to conduct his actions without being constantly scrutinized and spied on by ANY form of authority"