Alec Baldwin expressed his displeasure and disappointment with reports that the National Security Agency has been collecting data on American citizens by monitoring phone records of millions of Verizon customers. “I think that the post-9/11 world is one in which people tell themselves that they’d rather be safe than sorry,” Baldwin told Buzzfeed at a New York press event promoting his new block of National Geographic specials. “And although I have an understanding of that and an appreciation of it, I do think that the democracy that we believe in and tell ourselves that we believe in, to preserve it, it takes a lot of work. And it seems that we live in a world now where people aren’t willing to do the hard work and heavy lifting.”
Baldwin acknowledged the new normal the U.S. has faced in the last decade, which is a “paranoia” that only intensifies with each terrorist act, like the recent Boston Marathon bombing. But the trading of freedom and privacy for security — a tendency to “cut a lot of corners” — is a development he finds unsettling. “There are many, many hard working people, but I’m talking about in terms of to conduct a policy, they sit there — and this began in the previous administration — they said let’s just make this easier on ourselves,” Baldwin said. “Let’s just do what we need to do, and if something is going to get jettisoned, if we’re in a lifeboat and we need to throw something over the side and lessen the load here to ensure our survival, some of these rights will be tossed aside. That’s a shame.”
The Guardian newspaper in Britain broke the story last week that the N.S.A. was mining phone records of Verizon’s customers to keep track of phone numbers, location and duration of calls, and other information.