The National Security Agency’s secret, unfettered surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and Internet communications has made the U.S. more aware of the delicate balance between security and privacy in the fight against terrorism, Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporter Matt Apuzzo said Thursday.
Apuzzo, co-author of "Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot against America," told "The Steve Malzberg Show" Americans are now "ready to talk about the size and intrusiveness of government and how we balance that with security."
"It’s a social contract we make," he said. "We're willing to give up certain things. We give you the right to tax us. We give you the right to lock us up. We give you the right to put us on surveillance, search our homes, whatever and, in exchange, we get a functioning society that keeps us relatively safe and that's the tradeoff we make.
"The reason the NSA thing is really catching on and the reason the questions we raise in this book are important is, if you don't know what you're giving up, and you don't know what you're getting in return, then it's not really a social contract."
And that’s what’s at heart in the NSA surveillance debate, he said.
"In the end, this is not about surveillance of Muslims," he said. "This is about surveillance of Americans…"
Apuzzo insisted the government can investigate terrorism, and the terrorist threat to America, and that his book takes "a really critical look at the most significant terrorist plot inside the United States and what worked and what didn’t."
"We don’t want our government building files on what people think about their government," he added.
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