"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin
In light of the events of September 11th, it is clear that concerned Citizens all over the world need to stand up and take action now more than ever. They need to take notice of events and think not only of their own country, but of all nations in this modern world. In response to the terrorist action that left many dead and wounded from more than just a few nations, the world's response has swift and even more far-reaching than I had expected.
Currently there is one facet to this that I am concerned about. With the good instinct of many people to take action quickly, it is quite easy to become reactionary, and move without proper consideration of the consequences. One aspect of this has shown up already in the U.S. with a few isolated incidents of people of being discriminated against and hurt merely because of their appearance. Those actions, thankfully, are quickly seen as wrong, and are being dealt with and shunned by the vast majority of people. However, there is another aspect to this rash action that is more difficult to even notice.
The other aspect of that problem is in the knee-jerk reaction by our legislature to do something and do it quick. In this justifiably hurried climate it might be just a little to easy to cross lines that should not be crossed and take actions to curtail our basic freedoms that should never be dealt with or restricted without careful deliberation on the long-term consequences.
Before some might take my caution as cowardice or naiveté, I would like to point out a little of my background. I served four years with the U.S. Army, including two years in Germany while the Berlin Wall was still standing. I was quickly aware of the hidden dangers of terrorism due to the disco bombing that killed two U.S. Servicemen and injured hundreds the same month I was assigned to Germany, and another bombing the week I actually arrived in-country. I have done my share of guarding bases, checking cars and watching for anything that might be a tip-off of ill intentions.
My beliefs in the proper route of action, and the need for U.S. Troops in Germany was justified sooner than any of us expected, with the fall of The Wall before I even left active duty. Steadfastness and determination prevailed.
Now I see that the basic Constitutionally protected freedoms that I and my fellow servicemen put our lives on the line to protect are now being possibly yanked right from under us by others sworn to uphold them. I know that this was not their intent, but that appears to be the net effect of their proposals. This has been cited to be just "for the duration", but then again we have been warned that this "new war" is likely a long, drawn out one.
I for one intend to do whatever I can to ensure that we do not start to slip into the oppressive culture that once haunted the likes of East Germany. As I had one German high-school student tell me while I was standing guard duty: "I've been to East Germany; I've seen how they live. I'm glad you're here". Let us hope that they never have to return the favor and stand fast outside our 'wall'.
As our legislators strive to take proper action to ensure our success against any terrorist threat, I would urge all U.S. Citizens to just keep their representatives accountable, and to have them be sure to carefully weigh all the consequences of any actions they take, as going back from any short-sighted mistakes may be a long hard road.
As to details of security, encryption, the Internet and all, I have all my time since the Service working with software development and the industry. I have had to keep on top of things for professional reasons, and feel that it has given me a better insight on the technology than the average legislator. With all this in mind, I have seen several professionals present key issues clearly and concisely. I have collected a few links to such pieces that might help the average citizen get a good grounding and learn what they need in order to check that their representatives keep the people and our country's founding principals as the main focus.