"Thoughtless people," wrote Emerson, "contradict as readily the statement of perceptions as of opinions, or rather much more readily." The leaders and functionaries who in the past twelve years have imposed on the United States a massive system of secret surveillance are best looked on not as betrayers but as thoughtless people. They have forgotten the moral perceptions that were once felt to make the United States a country exemplary for its freedom. The work of this moment is to compel them to see again what people who understand liberty have never failed to see.
Twelve years after 9/11, One WTC became the tallest building in America. In the same time, another edifice has arisen from 9/11's ashes, a looming, largely unaccountable national security state. Rather than a soaring tower to our free society, it is a monument to secrecy, diminished democracy, and lost Fourth Amendment rights.
Perhaps our great society is no longer a full house, but a house of cards -- a bluff that has allowed those in power (holding the cards and the dealers) to rake in money from players who can barely afford to sit at the table. Maybe it's time to change the game, or at least ask, "What price am I willing to pay for liberty and what price am I willing to pay for security?"