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Strategic Horizons: After NSA Leaks, ‘Trust but Verify’ Applies to U.S. Government

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The day after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington, I wrote in my notebook, "The big question of the next few years will be whether an 18th-century Constitution is adequate for security in the 21st century. The nation will have a huge debate on this."

As it turned out, I was correct on the first assertion. When drafting the Constitution, America's Founding Fathers could not have anticipated the intense connectivity of the modern world, where catastrophes of any kind have cascading effects both tangible and psychological. They could not anticipate the existence of small cells of sociopaths with the intention and capability to cause maximum harm to the United States and manipulate mass fear. But I was wrong on my second assertion: There has been no far-reaching national debate on whether an 18th-century Constitution is adequate for the 21st century. In particular, Americans have not decided how much privacy they are willing to surrender for greater security from shadowy, nonstate enemies. ...

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