National Security, Surveillance, and Privacy after Osama
American Constitution Society Book Talk, 2011
2 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 9, 2011
The death of Osama bin Laden has started a debate about whether and how the United States can extricate itself from its military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is only a matter of time before public attention turns to whether the expansion in government surveillance powers over the past decade should also be rolled back.
Don’t hold your breath.
Edward Shils, a sociologist writing soon after the McCarthy hearings had shaken the United States, argued that liberal democracy depended on protecting privacy for individuals and denying it to government. Yet the following half century has seen precisely the opposite happen: individual privacy has been eviscerated while governments have become ever more secretive. This accelerated under the Bush Administration after September 11 and there has been no serious reversal under President Obama.
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