The Pubic versus the Media and National Security versus Privacy

Turn on your television to any national news channel and all you may hear is this argument about the need for security pitted against the desire for privacy or the roles of journalist versus the attention span of the public.  Each argument has its merits and each has its flaws but the one thing that each of the warring factions seem to ignore is that nether has to suffer complete defeat and a compromise is well within reach.  Stop with all of your “the world is ending” drama, step back and think and be amazed at how easily all these issues can be resolved.

Case in point, first we must all be willing to re-define the definitions of these words that we wreckfully toss about as if we are auditioning from some bumper sticker.  We must look to our past not to repeat but to learn from.  With all of the intelligence being wasted on just chasing our tails, going around in circles and never solving anything, surely that intelligence could be used to once again solve issues instead building them from a mole hill to a mountain.    When it came to the talking points of commentators regarding leaks, national security, civil liberties and the privacy debate, Bob Herbert, a distinguished fellow from DEMOS said on Now with Alex Wagner that “the press has a role to play looking for abuses” and he is correct but what is missed is that the press also have a role to play in making sure that any breaking news or news accounts does not contribute to the death of anyone, meaning in a haste to get the scoop, your desire to win a Pulitzer does not infringe on the desire of another to live.  Alex Wagner used the phrase “eroding our civil liberties” as a catch phrase to draw attention to the information being reported to be obtained by the NSA.  She does have a valid point but again missed the bulls’ eye on her target because nothing was said about the billions of mega data being mined by businesses when you complete an application for a job or for a school on line.  Is it because it is a private company storing and capturing your information instead of a government agency.   

Many of these now pressing arguments are being held based on the definitions created some time ago and what must be recalled is that everything changes with time.  Remember years ago when the internet was first introduced.  Everyone wanted a piece of the action and was so blessed to be able to converse with others in this new and exciting way.  The internet grew faster than anyone anticipated and of course Congress was so far behind it was pathetic.  As it grew, concerns about our civil liberties grew as well and the thought of personal and private information being captured by business was of great concern.  As time passed, it appeared to be less important to media so they stopped “looking for abuses” and moved on to another shiny object to boost their ratings and viewership.  The desire for security was thought to be of little concern until the events of 9-11 then it became a huge concern.  The public cried out and began to demand protection at any cost and now that we have not had another horrific attack since then, Osama bin Laden is dead and the wars born from this desire and demand of safety are coming to a close, we find it outrageous that this same government is collecting data which may be the key to the security that we now enjoy. 


So now the question is what do we do about this and what is the balance that we need to strike to cover both our desire for privacy and our need for security.  How do we put out the possible fires of oppression while keeping our passion for freedom?  Now make no mistake, I am not an expert in any of this nor do I play one on television, I am but a single solitary individual with a love for this country my God and his people.  Now if a layman such as me can take a few minutes and come up with this, surely those who call themselves experts and of more intelligence than I can as well.

I say that priorities are the key and as long as we are led by the nose from media to chance every shiny object that appears our number one focus, the health, wealth and well-being of our citizens will go unrepaired.  That all leaks should not be seen as whether leakers deserve a ticker-tape parade or a jail cell but as an event which happens that affords us, as a country, an opportunity to get this right.  An opportunity to unbiased looks at a situation, here the arguments from both sides, construct a battle plan which encompasses all sides and then implement it.  This is our challenge and we must decide, as a country, to pick up that banner or continue to point fingers like we are still in kindergarten and wonder why things never get resolved.  Our priorities should be to consider where this information is coming from and yes, what is it that disturbs us the most about it. 

It is reported that Bradley Manning dumped documents that he never really saw or read, this is not the act of a patriot.  Snowden, supposedly looked at these documents read through them before he cashed them in but one must remember that did he not do this from China and is not China blamed for tapping into so many other bureaus of intellectual properties?  This sounds more like a traitor than patriot.  A patriot would stand tall in the country that they love and refuse to escape or run away.  A patriot would not dodge retaliation from his/her government but welcome it.  Take for example the little lady who charged up the hill fighting for equal pay for equal work for women.  Now that’s a patriot or maybe just my definition of one. 

News accounts of any event are often viewed through the eyes of another journalist.  Look at those being interviewed by your cable news channels and tell me just how many are not from the news industry.  You are given a steady diet of reporters, politicians and agreeable guests and even when there is an opportunity to have a decent debate on these shows, the moderator fails to ask the tough questions, the facilitator of the interview cuts their mics or goes to a commercial.  They all do it and none are exempt from making sure that it is their show so their opinion is the only ones that counts and/or the only one that’s right.

What we should really be paying attention to is the failures of even one of our fellow Americans getting the help they need resulting in the loss of life of another fellow America as demonstrated by this article titled “Santa Monica Mass Shooter Planned To Kill Hundreds With Stockpile Of Guns And Ammo” written by Aviva Shen which begins with “Five are dead after a gunman rampaged through Santa Monica, CA, on Friday, ending at the local community college. The Santa Monica shooting marks the tenth mass shooting on a school campus in California since 1976. The spree lasted 10 minutes, ending when police shot and killed, 23-year-old John Zawahri on the scene.” The article continues saying “Many have already expressed shock that such violence could occur in a sleepy, affluent town like Santa Monica. But similar towns in southern California have suffered through random mass shootings in recent years. A 20-year-old man went on a shooting spree across suburban Orange County just a few months ago, killing four. Eight died in a hair salon shooting in Seal Beach, CA, three years ago. And in 2005, four others were killed in a rampage in the small town of Thousand Oaks, not far from Santa Monica. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December, more people have been killed by guns than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq War.”

How do we do this is quite simple to me.  Every so often we must endeavor to review our current stance on all subjects to insure that we are up-to-date and are not falling behind.  The public must realize that media is here to inform and sometimes may get carried away on one particular subject like a kid with a new toy.  The media must realize that the public is like a spoiled child that gets everything that they want.  Give me something new today and I will want something newer tomorrow.  My attention span on any one of these subjects may be quite fleeting.  National Security experts should remember that one day soon they will be included in the number of average ordinary Americans one day and if they take offense to what bothers them about their jobs then, prepare that job for later when they too become the subjects of the very policies that they helped to create and institutionalized.  Civil Libertarians and privacy hawks must realize that everything cost and demanding that all rights are preserved is about unrealistic as getting struck by a passing bullet twice in one day in the same place.  Keeping these thoughts in mind, should help many make educated decisions about what should be done.  Now notice that I used the word “should” because with those leading this pack nothing is given.


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