Each week that passes, it seems that the Pandora’s box that Edward Snowden unleashed back in June when he leaked secret NSA documents only grows bigger. The public perception of the NSA has never been lower, and rightfully so. Its list of targets, both domestic and foreign, continues to grow steadily, and it seems that nobody can communicate safely outside the tentacles of the NSA. Whether you’re an ally or foe, the Prime Minister of Israel or the German chancellor, let alone a simple citizen just looking for a bit of privacy, it’s clear that you’re not safe from the NSA
On December 20, Reuters released the latest devastating report: the NSA has been working in conjunction with private companies to facilitate its massive spying program. According to secret documents leaked by Snowden, the NSA paid a private compute security company, RSA, over $10 million to gain a “back door” pass to information encrypted through their products. This news has shocked computer security experts, who assert that a red line has been crossed and that there must be serious consequences if these allegations are found to be true.
Americans are wondering, what’s next? Will the NSA begin paying off web design companies and other tech companies as well? Can any citizen or corporation communicate freely these days?
This revelation could not have come at a worse time for the NSA, when it is desperately clinging to the little legitimacy it still holds in the eyes of the American public. Unfortunately, some Democrats are not taking a strong enough stand against these unprecedented violations of civil liberties, and this must change. Some liberals are wary of being critical of the Obama Administration at a time when it is struggling with the fallout from the botched healthcare rollout, but this is a misguided approach.
Fortunately, most liberals have rightly been outraged at the NSA’s actions and are fighting for significant reforms in how the NSA conducts itself. Most prominently, Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon, a prominent Democrat, has firmly placed himself at the front lines of this battle. Ever since being elected to the Senate in 1996, Senator Wyden has been a loud advocate for civil liberties, and he has voiced his outrage unequivocally over the NSA’s actions.
He is perhaps the single most discernible voice in either chamber of Congress in favor of protecting our privacy rights, arguing correctly that “liberty and security are not mutually exclusive.” We need to stop acting as if these breaches of Americans’ rights are acceptable, and it is time that meaningful reforms are passed by our elected officials.
Liberals, in particular, need to make their voices loud and clear that they will not stand for any encroachment on the rights of private citizens. The American Left has traditionally always protected the most vulnerable members of society, and the fight for privacy must be included in their overall struggle to make America the most free society on our planet.
Fortunately, liberals today have respected leaders like Senator Wyden that they can rally around and support. Their commitment to protecting American rights has already paved the way for substantial reforms, as reflected in a recent White House review panel. Wyden has stated that it “has been a big week for the cause of intelligence reforms”; liberals to remain inspired to keep fighting for this worthwhile cause, ensuring that the rights of all Americans are rightfully protected.