Eavesdropping: A threat to our liberty

When the eavesdropping scandal first broke and George Bush told America that the National Security Agency is currently eavesdropping on Americans domestically without court- approved warrants, I didn’t realize the gravity of his admission. After all, Bush indicated this was a necessity for security during a time of war, and I figured the government had already been illegally spying on Americans ever since technology for spying became available. I even gave kudos to Bush for honestly admitting to something that had previously been kept hush-hush.

However, after thinking about the magnitude of the scandal and reading more about the surveillance acknowledgment, I have changed my mind. I read an article by the public editor for The New York Times, Byron Calame, and discovered that the story uncovering the eavesdropping scandal had been withheld from the public for a year after the White House had called for a full halt on the release of the article. Now I became very worried. As an American I fully appreciate the freedom of speech and press given to me by the Constitution, and I feel that trying to kill the release of a news story limits this freedom that the people of the United States hold dear.

The article about the eavesdropping scandal was released by The New York Times on December 16, 2005. When the public editor said that this release date had been delayed for a year, he did not mean exactly 365 days on the dot. So consider this: What would have happened if the story had been released a little over a year ago, let’s say prior to November 2, 2004, the day Americans elected George W. Bush for his second term? With public knowledge of a scandal, would Bush have been elected?

Milton Glaser, an American graphic designer, coined the phrase, “Surveillance undermines liberty.” This slogan, which applies perfectly to the eavesdropping scandal, represents the threat to our democracy that comes from a government that illegally eavesdrops without warrants and forces media to become a puppet to the White House.

Karyn Meshbane is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience. She can be contacted at k.meshbane@umiami.edu.