By Bob Lowerre
Some aspects of our national security have become the subjects of lively controversy. Take, for example drones and the collection of phone records.
I could write a legal brief about these subjects. I could compose an academic essay about them. Instead, I'll simply make some common sense comments about them.
A few facts must precede any rational discussion. We are facing an unprecedented, worldwide conspiracy devoted to bringing down not only the United States and its allies, but democracy itself. It is not a government or a country. It does not do battle in any usual sense. But it is lethal. And it is motivated by (1) a radical interpretation of one of the world's main religions, and (2) pure hatred. It is an enemy that cannot be confronted by conventional means.
An effective weapon against its leaders has been drones. Many of them have been killed. So have some who have harbored them, along with some innocents. But the so-called "collateral damage" has been but a tiny fraction compared with that of other wars of recent history. Drones bother some nations that comfortably shelter these killers.
Some opponents of the drones propose preposterous nonsense -- for example, getting judicial authority before attacking these culprits. May we continue to use one of the weapons that work against so determined and merciless an adversary?
Much publicity has followed disclosure of some of our top secrets. One of the disclosers is a youthful Army private; the other a young man, an employee of a government contractor, whose previous life was a litany of failure. How such types could be made privy to some of our most confidential data is deeply disturbing. Much more disturbing is the monumental effrontery of these lowest level functionaries in substituting their juvenile judgment for the law and security of their country -- all to the aid and comfort of our enemy.
For decades, I belonged to an organization, one of whose major missions was defense of personal privacy. That battle has long been lost. Millions of our people have happily surrendered their privacy through Facebook and other social networks. Countless banks and other enterprises have assembled catalogs of personal data on most of us for commercial gain. The political parties, most successfully the Democrats, have gathered such information on each voter that they can individually fashion their message to (a great political tool, but a great invasion of privacy). And then there are the hackers.
I would much rather the government have information about me for the purpose of fighting terrorism than to have private entities possess it for who knows what purposes.
Before we get in a bundle about governmental activities disclosed by two lawless individuals, let's step back and take stock of the nature of our enemy and the viable means of combating it and the disclosers. Some label these criminals as "whistle blowers" or even as "heroes." The label "traitors" much more nearly fits with reality.
Bob Lowerre is a retired lawyer living in Woodstock.