Michael Moe writes at AlwaysOn:
"I don’t know about you, but I’m all for having my phone calls listened to. If reading my emails (and everybody else’s) makes it easier to prevent the bad guys from doing bad things, I’m all for that, too."
The problem here comes in identifying the "bad guys." Today, we may see them as being terrorists, but tomorrow, once we've taught people to be accustomed to the idea of being monitored and once we've built the technology to enable and perfect that monitoring, it is quite possible that the "bad guys" will be the people doing the monitoring -- not those being monitored.
The freedoms and rights that we enjoy do not come without cost. Our rights require constant vigilance and, at times, we must accept lesser personal security in order to protect the freedoms we hold dear.
Moe, like George Bush, invokes the mantra "this is a war" to justify his acceptance of universal surveillance. But, in focusing on the new "war" against terrorists Moe forgets the older and never-ending "war" to protect our freedoms. In that war, just as soldiers who march to battle, we must all accept some occasional discomfort in order to achieve our goals and fend off defeat. In this case, it is best that we avoid the easy answer of universal and unrestricted wiretapping, and potentially let a few terrorists succeed, rather than teach us all to live in and accept a world in which we have no privacy -- a world in which we have lost our freedoms. Freedom is not free.