Last updated: October 21. 2013 11:36PM - 5320 Views

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Last week, The Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency has gathered personal contact lists from email and instant messaging accounts around the globe — including many belonging to Americans.

The Post based its reporting on documents provided by NSA leaker-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden. The documents reveal that when it comes to trolling and sifting through millions of contact lists for terror plots and conspiracies, the American spy agency doesn’t make distinctions between home and abroad.

While none of this is particularly surprising, given recent revelations about the NSA’s programs, it is a reminder that a person’s Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail accounts aren’t hermetically sealed environments. According to the Post, on a typical day last year, the NSA collected more than 440,000 email address books.

Americans were traumatized by the 9/11 terrorist attacks 12 years ago. That terror precipitated the United States stumbling into long wars in which its values were put to the test. At home, as the NSA programs demonstrate, the country has compromised on its most precious beliefs out of the same fear.

Isn’t it reasonable to ask if all the snooping and gathering in the name of security makes any sense? How many freedoms are Americans willing to give up because they’re still afraid?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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