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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Douglas’ privacy pitch is incomplete

Letter to the Editor

Chuck Douglas’ full-throated plea for restoration of the “right to be left alone” (Sunday Telegraph, May 18) would have been even more persuasive had he addressed a key “necessary condition”.

Recall, if you will, the general panic caused by the 911 airliner attacks and the full-court press for the government to “do something” to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. There were only two obvious possibilities; Make the punishment for such attacks so severe as to deter all future attacks; but deterring suicidal fanatics is clearly a non-starter. The only other obvious approach is to detect such plots sufficiently far in advance that they can be prevented. That is what the public wanted its government to do, and it responded in a very logical and, to this date, effective manner – massive surveillance intended to detect and prevent. incipient mayhem. ...

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Chuck Douglas’ full-throated plea for restoration of the “right to be left alone” (Sunday Telegraph, May 18) would have been even more persuasive had he addressed a key “necessary condition”.

Recall, if you will, the general panic caused by the 911 airliner attacks and the full-court press for the government to “do something” to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. There were only two obvious possibilities; Make the punishment for such attacks so severe as to deter all future attacks; but deterring suicidal fanatics is clearly a non-starter. The only other obvious approach is to detect such plots sufficiently far in advance that they can be prevented. That is what the public wanted its government to do, and it responded in a very logical and, to this date, effective manner – massive surveillance intended to detect and prevent. incipient mayhem.

If the government is to back away from this level of protection, it has an obligation to prepare the populace for an occasional suicidal attack. How many would subject themselves to a little less security in exchange for a lot more privacy? Would Justice Douglas? If so, he should have said so, unless he has an undisclosed alternative to effective surveillance.

Gene Porter

Nashua