Posted: August 7th, 2013
Intelligence, in any country, is of great importance as it is responsible for timely detection of situations that may pose a threat to national security hence resulting to harm of the citizens and inhabitants. In order to achieve their purpose, they have to take certain measures that will go unnoticed by common citizens. Some of these may be justified while some may not. The reason as to why some of the measures taken by the intelligence are unjustified is that they go against privacy rules. They breach on secrecy as the intelligence may have the ability to monitor an individual’s private conversations on the internet and phone.
One reason as to why the US intelligence has been forced to go into great measures, is an attempt to identify national security threats before they occur is the 9/11 bombings. There has been a constant fear of the repeat of the same hence the government took drastic measures that involved invasion of communication privacy policies of users. However, there is no way to monitor whether the information gathered is used in the interest of the citizens or whether the officials in the top offices may misuse this power to gather information to their benefit disregarding the impact it may have on the nation. Initially, this power they vested in themselves was not restricted and could not be controlled by anyone hence, the intelligence officials had the power to misuse this privileged.
Privacy is particularly vital regardless of the reason given for its invasion hence the claim brought forward against the intelligence, and the government by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as is stated in the article by the New York Times (2008) is justified. The fact that top officials in connection to the security of the nation were against the procedures followed in acquiring the information further shows the irregularities involved in the whole process. The major issue is that the intelligence monitors the information passing through the connectivity inside the States without the knowledge or consent of the users. This amounts to invasion of privacy. Furthermore, this system treats everyone like a suspect hence rendering them as guilty until found innocent. Though this system had been overhauled some years back, it was resurfaced with the increased intensity of threats against the nation in 2007 (New York Times, 2008). This monitoring could result in unjustified and inconclusive investigations that could lead to an innocent individual being harassed as it happened with Brandon Mayfield (The Christian Science Monitor, 2005). The Bush administration also opened an investigation on civil rights groups that were exercising their rights. These are groups dedicated to advocacy on civil rights and maintenance of nature hence, opening an investigation on them indicates that people do not have the right to voice their opinions, which in short is the dictatorship form of governance.
Intelligence however, has its strong points in the systems and tactics it employs. For instance, in the cold war, the US military intelligence employed the SOSUS, i.e., Sound Surveillance System. This would provide long-range detection in deep-water. It was successful in detecting and tracking enemy submarines underwater by use of a series of “high-gain long fixed arrays” (Global Security, 2011). This initial innovation has inspired a series of improvements in underwater surveillance and onshore assets to facilitate the running and functioning of the underwater gadgets. Hence, controlled intelligence is necessary for the security of any nation. However, it should ensure that it does not infringe upon the rights of the inhabitants without any discrimination.
GlobalSecurity.org. (2011). Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS). Retrieved from: http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/sosus.htm
Knickerbocker, B. (2005). America wrestles with privacy vs. security. From driver’s licenses to domestic spying, recent debates test public values amid terror war. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0722/p03s01-uspo.html
Shane, S. (2008). Agency and Bush are sued over Domestic Surveillance. New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/washington/19nsa.html?_r=1
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