In his speech this morning defending the federal government’s right to, in the interest of thwarting terrorism, secretly examine the phone records of any and all Americans, President Obama insisted “nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” adding:
The modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content was worth us doing. You can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience and, in the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance.
To which I would respond with the classic words of The Greatest American Ever, Benjamin Franklin, who told the Continental Congress in 1776:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.