Letter: Where is the press?
Shortly after passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001, I began presenting a program on the conflicts between national security and civil liberties. A significant part of the presentation focuses on the new and expanded government powers to intrude into our private lives without the ordinary safeguards against abuse. Those laws have been revised at least twice in light of revelations of abuse by the FBI and the NSA. Unfortunately, Congress has not installed any real protections, nor has it struck a genuine balance between security and guarantees of liberty in our Constitution.
My voice in this area is one of many from the civil liberties community. The ACLU, the American Library Association, The Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have tried to raise the alarm and have taken legal action against the government.
One of the most powerful forces in our society, the press, has largely ignored this growing problem. The mass media pleads that it does not have the resources to do serious investigative reporting. But somehow resources are found to do in-depth reporting on any number of frivolous matters, from the latest escapades of Lindsay Lohan to the dancing career of the girlfriend of the latest whistleblower. Apparently our appetites for the frivolous are much stronger than our concerns for our liberties.
Two aphorisms come to mind. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
RICHARD A. HESSE