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Hankins: 'Snooping' helps to protect us from danger

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 07:05 AM

Recently, I watched a mind-boggling graphic on modern spy technology.

The United States government already has the capability of spying on any given location in the U. S. and, probably, the world. As a matter of fact, spy cameras housed in drones and satellites are capable of zooming in on street corners from outer space. So, folks, George Orwell was absolutely correct — “Big Brother” is watching!

I was astounded as the narrator (who was not permitted to specify classified locations where the devices are employed) zeroed in on anonymous city streets where one could easily pinpoint suspicious activity and identify specific individuals by the clothing they were wearing. A white dot flitting about on the screen was identified as a pigeon.

The viewer was advised that this technology is not at all new. It has been in use in various forms for many years (I recall the U-2 incident of May 1, 1960), but more so since the enactment of the Patriot Act or “Uniting the Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001,” as it was officially named.

The act grants the government substantial latitude in the area of intelligence work, both at home and abroad. We can safely assume that all technologically-capable countries engage in intelligence gathering. Countries which protest most vociferously “doth protest too much.”

Make no mistake about it, the world is a dangerous place, and only the most foolhardy of nations would forego opportunities to find out what their enemies are up to.

We must keep in mind that we live in a dangerous country where a terrorist(s) may live down the street from any one of us and appear to be the most friendly and unassuming of neighbors. It is entirely possible we may learn of their pernicious plots on the evening news and be astounded because of their seeming normality.

To bring this closer to home, frankly, I do not care if our government is snooping, if the snooping has the wider objective of protecting us from vicious acts which result in death and destruction. I recall the words of my mother who said, “If you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear!” 

Perhaps my mother (who passed away in 1957) was naïve. Yes, the world has changed significantly during the last 50-some years. The basic fact, however, has not changed. It is the foremost responsibility of our government “to protect and defend the Constitution” — our way of life. All of our presidents publicly affirm this oath.

Whether we like it or not, a certain amount of spying by all administrations has become absolutely essential to our collective well-being.

When I was a youngster, we were not allowed to “listen in” to the telephone party line we shared with our neighbors. But, occasionally (in a moment of weakness, I suppose), even Mother relished a bit of ill-gotten information!

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.



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