It stands to reason that most Americans would have shifting views on balancing individual freedom and national security.
"Loose lips might sink ships" was a widely accepted slogan during the horror of World War II, following so closely on the heels of the global World War I.
Today, "loose lips sink ships" sometimes is used to admonish people who may be speaking out of turn, or providing information that someone else would want to protect. But with actual ships not at risk, the clichÃ© is not a popular phrase. In fact, uttering it in most situations would be met with "don't tell me what I can say."
So one might guess it would be the same with the Patriot Act, which enhanced government surveillance of its citizens and suspected terrorists. Perhaps after a major terror attack, we may turn a blind eye to government overreach: collecting data on millions of Americans not linked to terror. Then after some time passes, we might try to claw some of that freedom, our privacy, back.
Unsurprisingly, Americans don't see eye to eye on whether this is appropriate. But our shifting views on it seem to be less related to the times, and more related to disappointing partisan rancor. This is most striking among Democrats.
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey that showed that in 2006, 75 percent of Republicans said it was OK for the National Security Agency to collect data on phone calls and e-mails without court approval. Today, it's only 52 percent.
In 2006, 61 percent of Democrats called that unacceptable. Today, only 34 percent disapprove.
Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., will introduce legislation that would put some controls on the government's collection of data from Americans with no demonstrated links to terrorism. Both serve on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
The federal government has defended its actions by a "secret interpretation" of the Patriot Act. Some secrecy in trying to stop terrorists and spies is critical. Secret interpretations of laws that apply to pretty much everyone should be rejected.
"The NSA's collection of millions of Americans' phone call records is the type of overreach I have warned about for years. Although I strongly believe some authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provide valuable information that helps protect our national security, Americans with no link to terrorism or espionage should not have to worry that their private information is being swept up," Udall said.
Such legislation could balance personal freedoms and national security. As long as it doesn't fall under a secret interpretation by the government.