Julian Sanchez at the Cato Institute has written an excellent response to his colleagues Roger Pilon and Richard Epstein after they wrote an op ed for the Chicago Tribune in which they defend the NSA’s surveillance program.
…the appropriate question is whether the creation of a system of surveillance perilously alters that balance too far in the direction of government control, whether or not we have problems with the current use of that system. We might imagine a system of compulsory cameras installed in homes, activated only by warrant, being used with scrupulous respect for the law over many years. The problem is that such an architecture of surveillance, once established, would be difficult to dismantle, and prove too potent a tool of control if it ever fell into the hands of people who—whether through panic, malice, or a misguided confidence in their own ability to secretly judge the public good—would seek to use it against us.
While I hold much of Epstein’s and Pilon’s work in high regard, I believe both their research and their reasoning in this case to be faulty, and hope they will reconsider their position on this important issue. If they remain unpersuaded, then I at least hope that readers who look to Cato for guidance on these questions will recognize that theirs is not the position held by all—or, indeed, most—Cato scholars.
The piece is well worth a read.