Domestic Surveillance and Government's Loss of Legitimacy
Inks, Christopher Scott
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The terrorist attacks against the United States on the morning of September 11, 2001 created an environment ripe for the abuse of power. With a fearful nation clamoring for greater protection against future attacks, the National Security Administration (NSA) took the opportunity to create and implement a secret domestic spying and data mining program, the size of which had never before been imagined. Because information is the ultimate form of power in today’s world, unmitigated access to so much personal data has the potential to aggregate power into this one agency, leaving the rest of government and the populace unable to defend themselves against those who would use it to advance their own agendas. Once obtained, there is no way to check this power. Since government is only as legitimate as the populace believes it to be, such aggregations of power are likely to increase dissent among the citizenry and ultimately result in a belief that it has become illegitimate. Such a government is ineffective and puts the entirety of the populace in harm’s way, not only from terrorists outside its borders, but from potential domestic abuses of this power. In the rush to protect the country against terrorism, one must be careful the actions he or she takes do not inadvertently create a homeland security threat from within.