Those doing the heavy lifting on the security side don't see it that way. After all, somebody has to protect the home front while the rest of us are texting, going to Myrtle Beach and monitoring our IRA accounts.
Think of the character "Dan" in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty."
The CIA agent tortures and humiliates a detainee to try to gather information about Osama bin Laden. The end justifies the means if that keeps America safe.
Can the same be said for the NSA's monitoring of our own citizens?
This is the conundrum: We expect safety and security, but also our privacy.
Those in charge of the security know they are the first and last line of defense. If the intelligence community overreaches to the point of bending or even violating Constitutional protections, Americans will become even more angry and cynical about the essential institution of government.
The best case is that the revelation of the encompassing surveillance produces a national discussion about how we go about protecting our country without trampling on liberty.
But if we are not so inclined, fear and suspicion may take hold. Then President Bush will have been wrong about an unshakable foundation.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.