The Progressiveness of PRISM

June 25, 2013
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Since 2001, the United States has pursued a sporadic and reactionary global attack on terrorist networks inside and outside the United States in order to prevent atrocities similar to those witnessed on 9/11. To externally combat terror, the Bush Administration opted for conventional warfare and invasion, while the Obama administration chose to use the drone program started under Bush. Internally, Bush used powers granted by the Patriot Act to bypass FISA courts and allow the NSA to directly spy on Americans. It seems to me that as warfare develops, the goal has to pinpoint individuals or groups of individuals and take them out, without injuring or killing civilians. Even though conventional warfare is a much larger offender, both that and drone strikes remains responsible for a large number of innocent men, women and children being killed, adding to anti-American sentiment in foreign nations. Both Bush and Obama have made it clear innocent death doesn't matter as long as dangerous individuals are taken out.

Due to the actions of Edward Snowden, we now know that the Obama administrations answer to internally combating terrorism is the PRISM program. I call it “internal” because it’s focused within the United States borders; however, it goes a bit farther than that. The focus of the program is international communication, and attempting to target individuals contacting terrorists outside the country. Those on the left who have criticized both presidents foreign policy have dubbed this an invasion of privacy and an overreach. I disagree. The destructive actions of both presidents overseas have, as I've stated, killed innocents and worsened the terrorist threat. The PRISM program is a way to even further hone in on dangerous individuals inside and outside the borders; it’s the third step in a progressive chain that, hopefully, will ultimately lead to having no civilian casualties.

Those who claim the program is wrong seem to go no father in their explanation that deeming it an “invasion of privacy”. However, this did not seem to come as a surprise to many. A TIME poll stated 55% of individuals were already aware the government was collecting phone records, e-mails, and internet search records of potential terrorists. The only information being collected when it comes to phones is phone numbers and call durations. While the amount of information that can be inferred from simply those, I hardly see it as an invasion of my privacy.

While I view this action as progressive, it doesn't excuse the poor job the Administration has done in handling the leak. On multiple occasions, Obama makes it clear that the program is technically legal, since the FISA court must approve each PRISM action (FISA has, in fact, never denied a single action), and that congress is briefed on the operation regularly. This shows he fails to grasp the controversy; people aren't worried that it’s illegal; they’re worried that it exists. Obama seems also to focus mainly on the fact that phone information is taken, while the social networking sites, video chats, and other forms of communication have been elaborated on very little.

Nevertheless, this information gathering has proven to have the potential to be helpful in the tracking of dangerous individuals inside and outside American borders while doing virtually no harm to American civilians. If I’m correct in saying these measures came about in an attempt to eliminate civilian casualties or harm to American civilians, I can only hope the mindset remains.

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