right to privacy

nsa-tsaAll of a sudden, Congress is having second thoughts. The New York Times reports that the strategy of letting the National Spy Agencies build haystacks to look for needles is going to be reconsidered by Congress. This is good news.

Backers of sweeping surveillance powers now say they recognize that changes are likely, and they are taking steps to make sure they maintain control over the extent of any revisions. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee met on Wednesday as the House deliberated to try to find accommodations to growing public misgivings about the programs, said the committee’s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California.

Congress critters admitting they are the powers-that-be behind the pervasive spying is good news. It’s nice they are stepping up to the plate and admitting perhaps they made a mistake, and not just because looking for needles anywhere, but a pin cushion, is a colossal waste of time. Who would have thought that the absence of haystacks in which to look for pins would lead to them being built?

On the other hand, I suspect it’s not the surveillance most people are upset about; it’s not the spying, it’s the listening in. People don’t like the idea of having their speech recorded and then played back for someone’s amusement or to stop them in their tracks. Speech is supposed to be free, if only because people always make things up. Not to mention that some people need to hear themselves speak just to know what they think. Having their words taken down is incredibly intrusive. Perhaps even more so than being pawed by the TSA.

Nevertheless, while Congress is at it, all that frisking at airports out to be reconsidered, as well. While not as intrusive as the vaginal probe, the TSA makes a mockery of the right to privacy. An assault is an assault — coerced consent or not.


Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."