July 4 is a day when we celebrate our independence, our freedom, and our liberties, guaranteed by our great Constitution and Bill of Rights.

It is also a good day to ponder the continuing growth of the national security state. This state demands the power to watch our every move. It says that it keeps us safe by having the ability to read our emails and monitor our phone calls. It sets up hidden cameras on the street to watch us.

Similarly, in schools, confidential data about our children and grandchildren are being amassed on a huge database that will be stored somewhere in the “cloud,” and managed by amazon.com. The database is being assembled, thanks to $100 million from Bill Gates and the Carnegie Corporation, by Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation. Don’t you feel safer already, knowing that every detail about your offspring is aggregated somewhere so that corporations can develop new products and sell stuff to the schools? Who might hack the data? Who might use it and misuse it? We don’t know. Will it happen? Of course.

And then there is the big story of the hour, the leaking of national secrets by a contractor employed by Booz Allen & Hamilton (which has a billion dollar contract with the U.S. government to manage secrets). Now our government is in hot pursuit of whistle-blower Edward Snowden. What did he do? He told the world that our government has the capacity to watch our every conversation, online and on the telephone. Days ago, the New York Times revealed that our government has been tapping into phone calls and emails in Germany and has done so more than half a billion times. No wonder the government wants to keep its snooping secret. The German government and people must be outraged.

Today is a good time to look at some of the claims made in the media about leaking and the danger Snowden poses to our national security. This article in The Nation does that, and it is a revelation. If we accept the idea that the government can monitor our phone calls and read our emails, haven’t we abandoned a good deal of our liberty?