PRO: Americans willing to go very far to protect security, feel safe
June 23, 2013 at 1:23 a.m.
Naomi Flonnory, a Victoria mom, wants her children to be safe.
She wants to live her life free from fear, knowing that the U.S. government is working nonstop to maintain national security.
Which is why she supports the National Security Agency keeping tabs on all American citizens - even those who do not have a connection to terrorism and without probable cause.
"If you are not doing anything wrong, it shouldn't matter if they are listening to you. ... I think it is just like a parent - if a parent is monitoring their child at any and all costs, then they will know what they are doing at all times and be able to keep them safe," Flonnory said.
Gino Tozzi, a political science lecturer at the University of Houston-Victoria, with specialties in the presidency and public policy, said most Americans feel similarly about their security.
"Americans are willing to go very far to protect their security and to feel safe. That you can fly to another part of the country and not worry about what is going to happen - or you can do things, maybe just go to a baseball game and not worry about a bomb going off," Tozzi said, adding most Americans were in support of beefing up national security after the 9/11 attacks.
The Patriot Act, passed into law in 2001, allows the government, in the name of national security, to monitor people suspected of terroristic involvement without probable cause.
Still, Tozzi said the government will need to use the information specifically in the war against terrorism for the expanded surveillance to have justification.
"Let's say the government uses it to bust people not related to terrorism. That would probably be a violation and go beyond the boundaries of what the Patriot Act was for - limiting the impact of terrorism in the United States. If they start using it to stop drug cartels or trafficking, then we get into a really gray area," Tozzi said.
And though many people are upset about the invasion of privacy, since it is a right guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment, Tozzi said national security is also a right the government is obligated to protect.
Those two rights have been competing for hundreds of years, he said, since the birth of America, and will continue to battle into the future.
Julian Garcia, a pharmacy technician in Victoria, believes the mutual push between national security and privacy dates well before 9/11, though technology has accelerated the problem.
"I grew up a child of the '80s, and I sure miss the Cold War, when everything was black and white, and there was a bad guy and a good guy, and we were the good guys.
"Now, everything has become so shrouded; it is so hard to tell who the bad and the good guys are. They seem to melt into the population here. ... I think because of that and because it is so hard to identify them, we have to go to the extremes of spying on someone," Garcia said.
He added terrorism has especially changed the national security game.
He is not concerned if he gets caught in the surveillance because he has nothing to hide.
He is concerned, however, that Edward Snowden did not work for the government but private contractors. Private companies should not have access to that type of information and software, he said, only the government.
"That a public company had access to this type of information and this type of software - they are going to be loaded with so much information they could sell. ... Those secrets don't stay secret forever when you drag a private company into that. There is way too much risk of something going wrong, and Snowden is a prime example."
Garcia believes Snowden should be prosecuted as a criminal for leaking the NSA information.
"If we have to sacrifice a little more for security, I'm OK with that," Garcia said.