What are the deep, long-term effects of clandestine surveillance on a country? The current debates in Congress regarding the renewal — or modification — of the Patriot Act offer an occasion to hold an open discussion that is long overdue.
My own experience may be relevant to that discussion.
It was on Sept. 12, 1973, the day after a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile, that I started to understand that language was also a victim when massive state spying permeates a hitherto free nation.
That Wednesday happened to be my wife Angélica's birthday, and the only gift I could offer her was the news that I had not been killed in the...