Civil libertarians say that Americans cant push back if they dont even know how their freedoms are eroding.
For example, they say, the public was only able to fight the full-body scanners that appeared at airport security checkpoints in 2007 because they knew they existed. The TSA recently announced it was scrapping the scanners in lieu of machines that only show generic images of bodies following complaints by Congress and privacy-rights activists.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he remains concerned even following a classified briefing this week by intelligence officials.
My support for anti-terrorism provisions has been based on the understanding that our government would be targeting foreign terrorism suspects under strict limits and with appropriate oversight and protections for the civil liberties of innocent Americans, he said.
But supporters of wider surveillance note that America had not sustained a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 2001 until the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April. Some have been thwarted, they say. And surveillance can help solve crimes, too.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in Boston. The cameras along the Boston Marathon route, authorities say, helped them gain information about possible bombing suspects and could be used to prove the case against 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Manhattan has more than 4,000 cameras, according to the ACLU. Chicago has 10,000 cameras, according to the ACLU. Other cities are, likewise, arming themselves.
This is the world in which we live in: People are trying to come to our nation and kill us, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Armed Services and Judiciary committees. And we need to find out what theyre up to before they do it. They have to be right only one time. We have to be right all the time.