The most surprising or shocking thing about the recent revelations of the NSA’s Prism program is that anyone should be surprised (or “Shocked!, Shocked! “like Captain Renault on “finding out” about gambling taking place in Rick’s casino in Casablanca just before he collected his winnings). The real and lasting concern should be about whether there are effective checks and balances and independent supervision to prevent abuses of the program. Those who detest anything that Obama does or say are convinced that he is not to be trusted and will abuse this power against Americans (as well as foreigners) who disagree with him as he allegedly pursues his goal of turning the U.S. into a collectivist, socialist and completely unAmerican society. While others shudder at the idea of the program being at the (Glenn) beck and call of individuals such as the last Vice President of the U.S. or the Ehrlichmans and Haldemans of yore. Whatever your political persuasion (or lack of persuadability) you should be demanding independent and effective surveillance of the watchers and the people who are in charge of them. Because sooner or later the people in charge will be ones you don’t like who don’t like your opinions.
The public revelation of Prism should also stimulate thinking about the U.S. Constitution and the validity and applicability of its originalist interpretations.The 4th Amendment 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, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” How does or can this work in the era of global online searches and remote seizures of property (e.g. malware that captures the use of your computer)? If the 4th Amendment is in urgent need of rethinking in the 21st digital century, should the 2nd Amendment continue to be presented as a right that is eternally carved in stone (and too often a gravestone)?