Bill Emmott at PostGlobal

Bill Emmott

Great Britain

Bill Emmott is the former editor of The Economist magazine, a leading international current affairs publication from England. He is now an independent writer, speaker, and consultant on international affairs. Close.

Bill Emmott

Great Britain

Bill Emmott is the former editor of The Economist magazine, a leading international current affairs publication from England. more »

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Like Torture, "If" Is the Key Word

The second part of the question almost answers itself. "Is this surveillance justified if it helps stop terrorist operations?" As in the case of torture, if surveillance were actually to be proven to be successful in stopping terrorism and thus saving lives, it would be hard to mount arguments against it.

But the real issue is that we don't -- can't -- know whether it does or doesn't. We lose our liberties -- or, in the case of torture, allow inhumane punishment -- in a general cause, not for a specific, knowable outcome such as the one in the question. It is so easy to abuse such power granted in a general, untestable cause, that we should not grant it.

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Reader Response -- Latest Featured Comment

» almaden | Torture doesn't stop terror operations. We do know this. Not because this was U.S. military and intelligence doctrine for years, grounded ...
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