How much snooping and listening should the security agencies do in trying to foil terrorist attacks?
I definitely think the NSA’s snooping has been over the top. I also think the US Patriot act is about as patriotic as the birthers and 911 truthers are. But it’s equally clear that there are real terrorist out there and many of them are constantly seeking ways to harm and kill our own country’s citizens. One of their unlucky terrorist targets might end up being you, or me, or one of our loved ones. So there are real reasons to try to uncover and foil their plots.
I can also appreciate that when you are elected chief executive of your country and given the responsibility of protecting its citizens, your worst nightmare is that there is some plot brewing and you won’t know a thing about it till it comes to fruit, and thousands you were supposed to be protecting are killed or maimed. Stopping terror plots that originate in lawless lands is not like stopping local criminals. The rules of search warrants, arrests rather than targeted killing, etc. are not going to work when the terror cell is setting its plans in place in the tribal Waziristan region of Pakistan, war-torn Chechnya or the badlands of Somalia.
Given the real-world threats we do actually face, how much should security agencies like the NSA be allowed to snoop. How do we strike the right balance between safety from terror plots and safety from an all-powerful, all-seeing government that might someday elect a psychopath like Hitler to lead it?
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.