In the aftermath of 911, the Bush administration, with Congress's help, used al-Qaeda and the persistent threat it posed to justify systematically setting up a surveillance state. Now, 13 years later, several lawmakers are using the threat the Islamic State poses—and Americans' fear of the group—to argue that the surveillance state should be preserved.
Edward Snowden's cache of documents showed just how institutionalized surveillance has become, and it seemed that the American public and lawmakers had finally come to say enough was enough. Al-Qaeda was quiet, there hadn't been a major terrorist attack on American soil since, well, 9/11, and people were sick of having their private communications read by government spies.
If people don't get what we're saying about the threats to our homeland now, shame on the Congress
And then the Islamic State started making noise in the Middle East.
James Foley, an American journalist, was very publicly and very brutally decapitated by IS terrorists. Then they killed another one. Then, a British aid worker. These senseless murders gave rise to a justifiable outrage and a justifiable fear.
But now, you have politicians talking in much the same way they did soon after 9/11, a period when counterterrorist groups like the NSA got whatever they wanted, no questions asked, and quickly.
"The passage of the USA PATRIOT Act was characterized by speed, haste, and, apparently, a complete lack of an informed national discourse, ostensibly motivated by the notion that crisis required expediency," Winston Nagan, a University of Florida law professor wrote of that period.
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