September 18 2013
photo by IntelFreePress/Flickr.com
This commentary appeared in U.S. News & World Report on September 17, 2013.
The United States is again engaged in a public debate over the tradeoffs between individual liberty and domestic security. The most substantial examination of the issue in decades, the current debate was intensified earlier this year by the unauthorized release of vast amounts of information on the collection of American's communications data by the National Security Agency.
The disclosures raise questions of constitutionality, individual privacy and the effects that government monitoring can have on citizens' willingness to exercise core rights such as freedom of speech and assembly that are critical to the functioning of a democracy. Potential negative consequences of surveillance are weighed against the central responsibility of a government to protect its people, further complicated by uncertainty surrounding current and future threats the security efforts are designed to detect.