Editorial: Surveillance may yield needed unity

Oct. 29, 2013 @ 07:16 PM

A dozen years later, the battles still come forward with links to Sept. 11, 2001.

Congress, handcuffed and gridlocked as it may be, is now center stage. President Barack Obama will act next.

And then we’ll have our third major decision regarding privacy since that terrible September morning. We knew it would take time to eliminate terrorism and the threats to the U.S., and that it might never completely be done.

We knew our lives were forever changed. But the scope continues to broaden, and the decisions continue to be made. Call them battles in the war on terrorism, a war with the twist of its climatic moment coming before the conflicts affecting us all.

In that sense, al-Qaida continues to post victories we begrudgingly do not wish to admit.

Congress is considering laws related to surveillance practices. Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin may not feel his views have evolved, but in the 2006 re-authorization of the 2001 USA Patriot Act, he felt advocates of privacy were using exaggeration and hyperbole.

Eric Snowden has gone from 18-year-old North Carolinian when 9/11 happened to working for the NSA and revealing what happens behind closed doors, which has in part led to the troubles with NSA activities Congress and the president has under review.

Sensenbrenner, and others, didn’t think authority would be misused. Within the broad concept of the president listening to our phone calls is the actual revelation last month the NSA’s inspector general said officers and analysts with access to spying systems were monitoring their lovers’ phone calls.

That misuse is disturbing and unacceptable. More to the international point before Congress, Snowden’s information suggests we’ve listened in on foreign leaders of 35 countries.

Government ministers in Belgium can’t bring mobile phones to meetings with the prime minister, per his order.

It is enough to bring Democrats and Republicans from both the House and the Senate together on a bill, with support from both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association.

After a dozen years of impact with rips into so many facets of our lives, could unity we thought we had in the immediate aftermath finally have come back around? We can only hope.

For it is unity that will ultimately deliver us from that nightmare which still haunts.