Changes to the US Government in the Post-9/11 Period

analytical Essay
1267 words
1267 words

The period of American history that we live in today is commonly referred to as the “post 9/11” period due to the September 11 attacks in 2001. Often characterized by a heightened sense of suspicion among the American people, a hawkish American foreign policy and last but not least, a rise in surveillance for the increased the security of the state. It’s been known for some time that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been involved in warrantless intelligence gathering both foreign and domestic, and on citizens and non-citizens alike. However, the magnitude in which the NSA gathers information through the recently revealed PRISM is unprecedented through the requirement of communications and internet companies to hand over raw data of its consumers. Although the PRISM program “cannot intentionally” target any US persons (meaning both citizens and residents alike), the fact that is has the potential to target US persons, and its secretive process to carry out surveillance is a major ethical dilemma in the sense that it violates the principles of an open, liberal-democratic society in which the United States was founded upon. This paper is not to argue that surveillance must totally be disassembled, for that would mean security would be at risk in a global era that is interconnected through near instant means of communication. But instead, it is to argue that because of the extent in which the government runs its surveillance, the social and political landscape of the United States is being inhibited due to the fear of government intrusion.
PRISM is the name of the surveillance program utilized by the NSA to collect massive amounts of data from companies such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other internet giants to hand over da...

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...which Kantian-based ethics originates, advocates that people have a duty or moral obligation to act against unethical policies and correct them because they conflict the idea that people are free beings with the right to pursue their freedoms without fear of repercussion. From a constitutional ethical standpoint, the fact that the surveillance breaches the protections granted by the fourth amendment, where it states that “The right of the people…against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated…”, and by the fact that the surveillence “chilling effect” has on the people’s right to free speech and press show that the government is overstepping its bounds limiting the privacy and freedom of its citizens.
Mass surveillance therefore goes against the ideals of a democratic society, in which individual people capable of making a decision on their accord.

In this essay, the author

  • Argues that surveillance violates the principles of an open, liberal-democratic society in which the united states was founded.
  • Explains that prism is the surveillance program utilized by the nsa to collect massive amounts of data from companies such as google, yahoo, microsoft and other internet giants to hand over data under section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act.
  • Explains that section 702 provides the government legal basis to conduct surveillance through prism for the purpose of acquiring foreign intelligence on non-us persons.
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