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Morality involves balancing the ends and the means. It dictates that what we do in any circumstance should result in the best outcome. It is thus relevant to take into consideration the expected benefits from the act of interrogation techniques. Most people believe that there are constraints or cases in which it is not right to do what makes for the best outcome. However, in most cases these constraints turn out to be very small. The good outcome that the intelligence practitioners aim at (existence of a state with its military, political system and industrial capacity intact) is so paramount such that these constraints are overridden. In the process many things that appear immoral on their face happen. Higher stakes make the overriding of constraints easy. Interrogation techniques can not be condoned when they are used to terrorize the population or specific communities. The credibility of the information obtained via interrogation techniques is a major issue. Poor techniques with unreliable result may end up damaging consequent efforts and lure the source to lie. This beats the purpose of interrogation.
Religion comes into play when it comes to other interrogation techniques employed. How does an intelligent practitioner made in God's image, while extracting information for the greater good, protect the human dignity of the person being interrogated? Some interrogation techniques are outrageous and should not be tolerated by any person. This is especially so when the party engaging in this atrocity is their own government. It is even more outrageous that a debate about whether it is okay or not is going on. This clearly demonstrates the complicity of the people in the crimes committed by the government. In allowing these techniques, we raise a society where this is condoned. The acts committed by the intelligence practitioners dehumanize them. The fact that the person being interrogated has not yet been proven guilty is unfair. This contradicts humanity as an essential attribute of the people holding power. The basic principle of justice is violated. The courts and interrogation practitioners should work together in trying to get the desired information rather than use certain techniques.
Project SHAMROCK was an exercise on espionage that involved monitoring all the telegraphic data that entered into or exited the United States during the height of the Vietnam War. The NSA were given an unlimited daily access to microfilm copies of all outgoing, incoming, and transiting telegraphs that went through western Union and its associates ITT and RCA. However, in 1975, the project came under so much scrutiny due to an increased number of congressional critics. Therefore the Church committee had to establish what was right to be done by the surveillance team. It is clear that most ethical issues that were present back then are still relevant even today as espionage is still rife in America today. Ever since the 9/11, there has been an increase in surveillance mostly one to counter the threat that these terrorists pose to the country. Whether this is justified or not, there remains one thing that is very clear to most Americans; their privacy is being infringed and that people have no where to hide. This program that is ongoing, established by President Bush was made illegal by FISA in 1978 even if there was no internet or fax machines back then.
The practice is therefore wrong on two accounts, it does not follow the law as established by FISA and secondly it still poses the same privacy infringement as it did back then. It is wrong for the government to act against the very constitution that it should uphold and expects the rest of the citizens to follow. It is therefore not about terrorism being a problem to America, it is about the executive or presidency ignoring the law that is supreme to this country. No one is against being protected and maintaining high national security measures, but the problem is about the secrecy under which all this happens. Why is the government reluctant to enact laws to support this? Although some pundits may argue that the president, being the Commander in chief is mandated to intercept enemy information during times of war (Prof Michael Stokes, University of St. Thomas), it still does not convince the ordinary citizen because they are not enemies to their own government. Another way the presidents circumvents around this law is by the use of the DC circuit ruling that the president being the Commander in chief has the independent authority to repel against any aggressive acts without necessarily seeking congressional authorization. Much is still expected to be amended in the law to warrant any surveillance o American citizens.
Intelligence has always been used as a tool to gather information about any threats that a country poses. It has also been a subject hat has come under intense scrutiny for many years because many people feel that their privacy is infringed in the process of this surveillance being carried out. Which begs the question, is it worth it? The world today has become a very insecure place to live in. The number of terrorist has risen and technology is fast being employed in the strategies that the terrorists use today. This therefore means that our government must always try all means possible to gather information that the terrorists transmit to have a chance to thwart any attacks they are planning. Many may disagree to this but given the recent attacks on American soil on 9/11 and those on our allies(read Madrid and London bombings), it therefore means that without proper monitoring of criminal activities and communication, we may jeopardize our preparedness on any imminent attacks on or soil.
One thing that elicits so much skepticism on surveillance is that of privacy, but many would agree how difficult it is to tell who a terrorist is and who is not hence making it necessary to do across the board for any abnormal activities to be spotted. Morality dictates that we do all it takes to protect our citizens and this therefore empowers the president to go to such extreme measures in a bid for upholding national security measures which every American desires. We only need a few examples of how surveillance on criminals has in the past aided in intercepting information that really proved critical in stopping attacks by terrorists on our soil. Eventually I do believe that more and more citizens are going to be in support of this cause for the common goal of promoting security in our land. I just hope that it doesn't take another attack on America for this to be realized but rather sober assessment from our people.
The presence of terrorism, drugs and weapons has in general meant that the government has to do more in a bid to curb these vice. Some of the techniques used have been seen as to be infringing on the privacy of citizens but the ethical justification of this can only be explained when one answers the underlying principle of collecting the intelligence information. The act proposes the use of 'Enhanced Surveillance Procedures' and this involves monitoring the communication of people suspected to be involved in criminal activities or computer fraud. But it should be noted that respecting the dignity of citizens is a very key factor and emphasis should be put on not harming anyone in any way. Privacy and data protection measures do sometimes address some questions that are raised, but they mostly tend to be limited only to individualistic readings of the prevailing situation, and not to consider issues concerning fairness and equality.
In the US Patrol Act II, we have the section which empowers the government to disclose electronic communications in order to protect life. This can be justified as it is very critical to save lives of many people at the expense of someone's privacy being infringed. The Act also allowed for 'sneak and peek' searches because any temporary delay in notifications of given search orders would stops terrorists from giving tip offs to their counterparts that are being investigated
After Dr. Arrigo exposed the inner working of the interrogative techniques being used in Abu Ghraib Guantanamo prisons, it was revealed that psychologists played a major role in shaping the kind of techniques to be employed I interrogations. Some of the key areas that were highly used in the program included torture as well as psychological interrogations by the military in these prisons. Those that were profoundly opposed to the use of coercive interrogation had to use subordinate international law to that of the U.S. law t justify the activities that were being carried out. It therefore goes against the morals of human rights to advocate for the use of torture in these prisons.
Operation Shamrock was an intelligence gathering operation that was used to monitor telegraphic communications within the USA. It sparked controversy after a government investigation in 1975. Senators were outraged with this. Reports had surfaced especially on the The New York Times about how the government was conducting illegal surveillance to gather information about the war in Vietnam as well as domestic political influence. To counter the growing concern in the public about this, the president sought a way to shield himself against any sought of sits about the same. A law was enacted in 1968 which provided that there was nothing in the Act that affected a president's authority to be involved in electronic surveillance for use in foreign intelligence purposes. Many people like Congressional investigator Britt Snider find that this surveillance was done completely out of the will of the ordinary citizens. It was therefore advocated that the government only use this surveillance technique only in cases it had the warrant to.
Although back then it was reviewed that citizens would be protected from illegal surveillance, it is a fete that is yet to be fully realized. Just recently AT&T, a US telecommunication agency has been accused of directing its internet traffic to of several of its operations centers to NSA. It is indeed immoral to use these means as it enslaves the citizens and makes them to live in constant anxiety and fear that they are being watched by the NSA. Lawsuits are still clogged up in courts about the very same issue but the government always gets around them and this practice is forever perpetuated. Some of the reasons that the government uses to back surveillance of its citizens is that of the recent history of the US being a target of terrorism activities like 9/11. There is however telecommunication companies like Qwest which have refused to cooperate with the NSA by handing in customer private information. This is because as they claim the government has no moral authority to do this in addition to not having a warrant.
The safety of every American citizen is one of the most fundamental rights that the government should consider necessary and a priority. When the security and safety of a people is jeopardized, the losses can always be insurmountable, like in the 9/11. Several innocent people were killed as well as loss of many other things like buildings and planes. It is therefore necessary for and imperative for the government to do everything possible to safeguard national security. It is unfortunate that some of these techniques can be regarded as infringing on one's privacy but many would agree that it is for the greater good. This therefore implies that that the very rights that are provided for in the constitution to uphold the privacy and freedom of citizens can sometimes be overlooked as an urgent step to protect the citizens. This does not always auger well many especially when our country has gone through a period of relative calm since the 9/11, but we should not be quick to forget that it is the same intelligence lapse that saw our country get attacked back then. Terrorists are more than ever using more sophisticated means to operate and there is a growing difficulty to try and catch up with their advancements. Take an example of the Nigerian citizen who recently had explosives in a plane en route to the US. If the communication of such a terrorist was being monitored earlier it would have been very easy to catch up with him even before he boarded the plane. There have also been attacks on various cities in Europe most notably Madrid and London in the recent past by Al Qaeda sympathizers and again we are able to see the intricate manner in which they are able to carry out their missions.
It is therefore time people realized the importance of allowing the intelligence agencies to sometimes infringe on our privacy a little bit in order to protect us. It should however not misuse this noble quest to blackmail citizens as well for matters that are not correlated to national security of the country. Another issue the government should probably do is to legislate all the secret surveillance activities it is undertaking so that they are authorized by law to do this. In this way it also removes the dark cloud of secrecy that surrounds it and makes citizens less skeptical about the whole exercise. As long as terrorists are here with us, national security is at constant risk and we have a responsibility to allow and help the government crackdown on these activities lest the ordinary citizen loses more in case of any attacks.