For and Against: I don’t spy a problem

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There are children in Egypt who go to sleep every night listening to the sound of angry protesters and mobs outside their doors, afraid that when they wake up they might find their parents dragged away by government officials. There are child soldiers scattered throughout Africa that wake up every morning not knowing if it will be their last. These people would give anything to know that they will be safe. And what life-threatening situation do we Americans face? People reading our emails.

In 2001, President Bush issued a presidential order that authorized the National Security Administration to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance of any American citizen’s telephone and Internet communications in an attempt to counter the threat of terrorism. This has raised controversy among Americans who claim that their privacy is being violated. But just how important is privacy when it comes at the cost of our security and protection?

Psychologist Abraham Maslow has observed that people have five sets of needs that must be fulfilled in a particular order to achieve the level of comfort in life that humans naturally strive for. According to Maslow’s social hierarchy of needs, the second level is a sense of security and protection. Without a sense of security, we forfeit a basic need: to feel safe and secure. Safety is the intent of the National Security Administration, and our safety is the very reason President Bush gave the NSA his consent to freely investigate any American citizen’s electronic communication lines––to shield us from the incessant, ever-present threat of terrorism that looms over our lives.

The ugly truth is that we are not safe from our fellow American citizens. The suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were brothers who immigrated to the United States as refugees in 2002. Dzhokhar became a naturalized American citizen on September 11, 2012. Who would have suspected that an American citizen would attempt something so tragic in the land of their own citizenship? According to Eli Lake, senior national-security correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, the majority of convicted terrorists in the United States are American citizens. If we are not even safe from our fellow Americans, can we really complain about the potential violation of our privacy by measures that are taken to protect our lives?

The NSA has a responsibility to protect the lives of the American people. Isn’t it only reasonable that we support everything done to ensure that we can live our lives knowing that we are safe and secure? Events of the past have proved that no amount of precautions taken are ever enough to guarantee our safety. With this in mind, isn’t it in our best interest to support security measures whenever possible? Is our privacy really more important than our lives? The fact that Americans complain about the NSA having too much access to information about their lives reveals that we prioritize our privacy over our safety. It seems that we would rather suffer terrorist attacks than have people read our emails.