The Price of Freedom

What an uproar!  Oh my god, they are monitoring our phone lines, and emails, and internet searches!  Really people?  Now everyone that knows me knows that I am a pretty conservative guy.  I also value my privacy and my family’s privacy.  I am not for big government and not for big brother watching everything that I do or say.  However, I am smart enough to know that we entrust our government to watch out for us and keep us safe.  The professionals at NSA could care less if you call and talk to your mom or your girlfriend.  They would never see that information, unless your mom or girlfriend was also talking to a known or presumed bad guy.

I hope that none of my friends are naïve enough to think that there is a person in Washington sitting there personally looking at your phone records or emails.  If you do believe that then please un-friend me and continue down that narrow road of conspiracy theorists and paranoid schizophrenics.   The people who monitor all of these forms of communication have much bigger fish to fry then you.  Their job is difficult to say the least.  They are tasked with keeping a nation, not a household, not a community or a city, but a nation safe from harm.  That task is daunting to say the least and gets even more complicated when everyone knows how they are doing it.

What price would you pay to take care of your family?  Would you allow a security team to track the phone numbers received and called from your children’s phones?  Would you allow a security firm to monitor their internet traffic and emails to ensure their safety?  How many of you would allow a tracking device to be put on their cars so that you could find them if they were in danger?  How nice would it be for your security team to stop someone who was on the way to your home in the middle of the night for the sole purpose of taking your daughter and killing you?  Now let’s talk about the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, and other clandestine services that are used on a much larger scale and how they actually use your information, chances are they don’t.

These agencies use metadata from phone calls, from internet searches, and from emails to key them in on high threat targets.  They don’t listen to the phone calls or read the emails.  They use algorithms to search through countless 1’s and 0’s to find the perfect combinations of characters that match up to form what they believe to be a threat.  For an example if you were to do an internet search for jihad the chances of you being looked at by any of these groups is trillions to one.  Now if you were to search on the internet for a way to make a bomb and then search for a flight to Washington DC, then your chances go way down to say maybe a thousand to one.  We add in a phone call from you to a known or suspected terrorist either next door or overseas and someone might come knocking on your door within the next few minutes.   A computer would have picked up on the combination of binary information fed into the system and put a risk factor on you based upon what you had just done with the phone call and the computer searches and presented to its user a risk assessment of you based on that information.  Then that person would use that risk assessment and drill down further to see if it is a true threat or just a kid playing on the computer and possibly someone making a wrong number call.  If it was found to be a true risk then a team would examine the information and do some actual detective work to find out the true nature of your interests.  If that true nature turns out to bad or evil, then at that point they would go through the Justice Department to get the proper warrants to take your evil butt down.

There is a price to pay for being free.  No big brother is not listening to your phone calls or reading your emails.  Big brother is not watching you look at Facebook or surf the internet, big brother doesn’t care what you look on the internet.  There is no camera over your shoulder watching you live your day-to-day lives.  However, we task our government to keep us safe and that is a tall order to fill.  We must be willing to give them the tools to do their job.  If we are not willing to give them the tools to thwart terrorist activities here and abroad then we can’t complain when things like the Boston bombing or the attacks on the World Trade Center happen.  We cannot complain when our neighbor is planning on blowing up our children’s elementary school and no one catches them before it happens.  Yes there is a price for safety and there is a price for being free.  The question is, are you willing to pay the price?  Just as a Marine or a soldier picks up their rifle every day, are you willing to sacrifice by allowing the binary configurations of your emails, phone calls, and internet searches be run through a computer so that you children and your grandchildren remain safe?

My favorite movie is A Few Good Men.  There is a quote from that movie that rings so true with all of the bleeding heart liberals out there today.  Col. Nathan R. Jessep put it quite poignantly when he said “Son we live in a world that has walls, and those have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it you, you Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury, you have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Santiago’s death while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence while grotesque and incomprehensible, to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you talk about parties; you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall! We use words like honor, code, loyalty.  We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something; you use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination, to explain myself to a man who rises and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner, in which I provide it. I’d rather you just say ‘thank you’ and go on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn, what you think you are entitled to!”

Yes Virginia, there is a price to be paid.