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Americans Not Bothered by NSA Spying 1322

Snap E Tom writes "According to a Washington Post poll, a majority (63%) of Americans 'said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism.' A slightly higher majority would not be bothered if the NSA collected personal calls that they made. Even though the program has received bi-partisan criticism from Congress, it appears that the public values security over privacy."
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Americans Not Bothered by NSA Spying

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  • Yes, it was (Score:5, Informative)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:28AM (#15317229) Homepage Journal
    From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/poll s/postpoll_nsa_051206.htm [washingtonpost.com]:

    This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone May 11, 2006 among 502 randomly selected adults.

  • Three things: (Score:4, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:30AM (#15317242)

    1. The poll questions say absolutely nothing about the current illegality of this sort of data-mining on U.S. citizens.
    2. The second to last question from the poll:
      46. If you found out that the NSA had a record of phone numbers that you yourself have called, would that bother you, or not? IF YES: Would it bother you a lot, or just somewhat?

      NET A lot Somewhat No No opin.
      34 24 10 66 *

    3. The last question from the poll (emphasis mine):
      47. Do you think it is right or wrong for the news media to have disclosed this secret government program?

      Right Wrong No opin.
      56 42 1

  • by cybercobra ( 856248 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:41AM (#15317388)
    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    - Benjamin Franklin

    When you don't teach people about the importance of civil liberties, it's no wonder they don't defend them. Bring back civics classes!
  • by Joe U ( 443617 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:47AM (#15317470) Homepage Journal
    Amendment IV:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • MOD PARENT UP! (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:05AM (#15317668)
    It is important that we be reminded of the proper course of action when our system starts to fail (as it seems to be doing now):

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson
  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:36AM (#15318024)
    Asked 502 people ? And draw conclusions about what the American people think about NSA's activity ? What is that, 1.6e-4 percent ? And half of them support the NSA's actions ?

    This isn't even worth to say anything else about it.

  • What parts? (Score:3, Informative)

    by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:43AM (#15318101)
    That entire screed was about a controversial system in one country, but not even that--just one CITY. So, instead of saying "that's reality in parts of Western Europe" just be honest and say "they're doing something sketchy in central London" -- and before getting so persnickety about how many eons the U.S. is supposedly ahead on these things, Washington, DC has all of these things right now, so rather than being ahead of the game, it's close to deuce, babe.
  • Re:Yay! For the USA! (Score:5, Informative)

    by general_re ( 8883 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:54AM (#15318229) Homepage
    Bush is the only president to be elected *twice* without winning the popular vote.

    Ummm, what [cnn.com]?

    Thinking is all well and good, but it wouldn't hurt to complement the thinking with a bit of research.

  • by GrumblyStuff ( 870046 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:05PM (#15318340)
    And grew pot.
  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:06PM (#15318351) Journal
    The supreme court said in smith vs maryland in 1978 (and this was not a conservative court)

    [W]e doubt that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial. All telephone users realize that they must "convey" phone numbers to the telephone company, since it is through telephone company switching equipment that their calls are completed. All subscribers realize, moreover, that the phone company has facilities for making permanent records of the numbers they dial, for they see a list of their long-distance (toll) calls on their monthly bills. . . .

    [E]ven if [a caller] did harbor some subjective expectation that the phone numbers he dialed would remain private, this expectation is not "one that society is prepared to recognize as 'reasonable.'" . . . This Court consistently has held that a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties. . . . [W]hen [a caller] used his phone, [he] voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the telephone company and "exposed" that information to its equipment in the ordinary course of business. In so doing, [the caller] assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers he dialed.
  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <logicnazi@ g m a il.com> on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:14PM (#15318442) Homepage
    This is asking the wrong question. I know the rest of the slashdot crowd are big fans of privacy but I don't really care if my phone calls are monitored or who I call placed in a secure governmented database so long as this information is not used for law enforcement purposes. If congress wanted to give the NSA power to do massive pattern analysis on US phone calls I would be all for it if they banned any information collected from being turned over to law enforcement or used for prosecutions (we can stop terrorist attacks even if we can't prosecute the terrorists...though I might even support an exception to prosecute terrorism but I worry about a slippery slope with that).

    However, I am absolutely furious with the Bush administration for conducting illegal surveilance in secret. I believe that Bush is probably not using this program for illicit political gain but his blatant disregard for the law creates a precedent that other presidents could use to intimidate political opponents like Hoover used to do and generally engage in lawless behavior. I think Bush ought to be impeached or at least censored for his lawless acts and then the congress ought to write provisions for large scale monitoring with appropriate safegaurds.

    So asking if people are okay with the NSA spying on them is just the wrong question. Many people may feel like me that Bush's behavior is totally unacceptable but ultimatly it isn't problematic if the NSA searches phone records with appropriate safegaurds.
  • by TimothyJones ( 954047 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:18PM (#15318484)
    On the subject of synthetic females. I lived in Poland back in the 80's (time of a gov't imposed martial law and general civil unrest) and every time you picked up the phone, well there was that syn female "This call will be monitored. This call will be monitored, This...". That was the new dial tone. And they did monitor them too. For quite a few years. For a long while you could not even call abroad and our letters and packages, dometic and definitely otheriwse, more often than not arrived re-sealed with a big "CENSORED" stamp on them. That activity too was labeled as "protecting the country".

    Honestly, I never dreamt that I'd be brought back to those scary, communist days. In the US of all places.

  • A Little History (Score:3, Informative)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:19PM (#15318499)
    This sort of thing ALWAYS happens in the US in time of war. Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during the Civil War. And the Copperheads complained vehemently. There was a great deal of censorship and monitoring of communications sanctioned by Roosevelt during WWII. Americans will tolerate a loss of privacy in exchange for victory. After each war, things went back to normal.

    Personally I've got no problem with the NSA doing traffic analysis. If someone's making calls to Waziristan, Yemen, Iran, Syria, and the Bulk Fertilizer Sales Company; they might be a farmer with international customers. But they might be something else, and I'd rather see the Feds act prudently than 'fail to connect the dots' again.
  • by frieko ( 855745 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:24PM (#15318557)
    The CNN Online poll tells different story. It all depends who you ask: http://edition.cnn.com/POLLSERVER/results/24900.co ntent.html [cnn.com]
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:28PM (#15318604)
    Dewey defeats Truman!
  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:10PM (#15319045) Journal

    The MSNBC poll [msn.com] shows 85% against.

    -- MarkusQ

  • Fake quote... (Score:4, Informative)

    by monkeyfarm ( 197818 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:17PM (#15319119)
    While the sentiment of the quote is good and all, it's also most likly made up. http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/tyler.asp [snopes.com]
  • Re:Yay! For the USA! (Score:3, Informative)

    by First Person ( 51018 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:26PM (#15319233)
    Don't forget that some 750 laws do not apply [boston.com] either in whole or in part to the Bush administration. Unprecedented and dangerous.
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:32PM (#15319290)
    Why on earth do people even bother reading the papers? They're ALL owned by the Neo-Con interests. Everything they print is designed to channel thought along Neo-Con approved vectors.


    If the Washington Post, (or Times, or whatever the heck paper it is), was a REAL paper truly concerned with actual news journalism they would have written extensively about. . .

    1. The Diebold voting scandal.
    2. The Downing Street Memos.
    3. The fact that Saddam and the guy in an American prison are not the same person.
    4. The fact that the Bin Laden tapes are fakes.
    5. Stephen Colbert's brilliant lamb-basting of Bush and, um, the PRESS.

    --Among other items. (Like the mountains and mountains of bullshit surrounding 9-11.)

    The fact that NONE of this was dealt with means that the paper is a sham. Period.

    So don't get worked up about their made-up polls.


  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:47PM (#15319457) Homepage
    "So the fact that both NSA programs were routinely reviewed by both the Senate and House intelligence committees made up of members from both parties doesn't count right?"

    These programs are NOT overseen by regular committees, and the sight of Alberto Gonzalez lying to the Congress some months ago -- on television -- on this very matter should tell you all you need to know about what "review" of these spying programs are permitted.

    There are a couple of members of the intelligence committees that are privy to some of the nonsense that Bush is doing -- BUT.

    They are sworn to secrecy, and to discuss the matters they know of to anyone would be a federal offense, punishable by loss of office, a fine, and a prison sentence in real federal prison. The "oversight" is garbage, for the people overseeing the NSA cannot tell anyone about what they know. Sort of opening the crate with the crowbar nailed inside the crate. They may be of the opinion that the operations are illegal and the President needs to be impeached -- BUT.


    The "oversight" is manipulated to be impotent.

    I somehow think that "oversight" will return as a Republican issue as soon as both the new Democratic president is sworn in. Oversight of his sex life, foreign policy, bank loans his staff's interns were involved in, real estate deals from twenty years ago, his military career or lack thereof, on and on and on and on and on on every cable channel for four solid years, and then redoubling in volume and nastiness when the Democrat is reelected in 2012. I don't think "national security" will stop them. Hypocrites and slime.
  • Re:Yay! For the USA! (Score:4, Informative)

    by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:50PM (#15319500) Homepage
    You're absolutely correct; I retract that portion of my statement.

  • by thisislee ( 908426 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:51PM (#15319513)
    I like how my answer of "No" on the survey page equates to "No, it's an intrusion on our right to privacy." I know it isn't scientific at all and doesn't claim to be. But it seems to me like they are trying to use weaker language to the get the YES and then displaying it as if you agreed with the stronger language.

    That said, I still would have voted "No, it's an intrusion on our right to privacy" and I'm sure the majority still would have agreed.
  • by cicho ( 45472 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:03PM (#15319633) Homepage
    One telling difference: as you note, in Poland they actually announced the fact that calls were being monitored.
  • by necrognome ( 236545 ) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:31PM (#15319918) Homepage
    Business partners do not have guns and enforcement powers.
  • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:54PM (#15320149) Homepage Journal
    Telecommunications Act and the Patriot Act which have been passed since 1979 and say you need a warrant for the type of information the government is collecting.

    Then again we aren't even sure what the NSA is doing. Why do you need such a huge database if you aren't going to do searches for patterns or do data-mining? If the call records of individuals are easily available with a warrant within 24 hours what is the point of collecting records on millions of Americans?

    Also the polls don't really mean anything. Do some research and you'll see the same type of response with Nixon. It wasn't until the consensus was reached that what he did was illegal that things turned around drastically.

  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:3, Informative)

    by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:26PM (#15320430)
    Also to the point (as I'm sure many intelligent /.ers will likewise mention), the questions on that poll were articulated to heavily favor the NSA - instead of asking:

    Do you realize the reason why the charters of both the NSA and the CIA forbid spying on anyone within the borders of America?? (Answer: to avoid fascism from gaining a foothold in the US of A!)

    Too late, it appears.....

  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:5, Informative)

    by gobbo ( 567674 ) <{wrewrite} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:56PM (#15320719) Journal
    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" [wikipedia.org]

    You, sir, and your fellow slashdotters, are representative of the only paltry, disempowered, cranky and nearly ineffective oversight we have left. When a trillion are spent on the military, 25 times more than Russia alone, many billions of that going into 'black' projects that even the president isn't allowed to know about; when there are over 700 military bases on foreign soil and no admission of imperial designs; when 'the Brotherhood' operates in the open, yet no-one really knows about them; when the PNAC is honest about their designs, and now has power but there isn't panic; then you know that complaining about things is of little use, however necessary.

    Not to be a pessimist, or anything. There is a groundswell of dissent. But few, if any, really can grasp the entirety of global geopolitics, and just how many long-running unjust plans are well under way.

    Zbigniw Brzezinski is one of those in the know, like Kissinger: "as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."

  • by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:59PM (#15320743) Homepage Journal
    NSA CDR monitoring has been publically known about since 1999, when a lawsuit was filed over it in California.
    That's pen register (trap and trace) monitoring, not CDR. And that's for international calls where U.S. domestic law does not apply. Unless you're thinking about something different than I. Can you cite a reference?

    Pen registers only record the pre (for origination taps) or post (for termination taps) translation routing information and time. Essentially that boils down to "what the phone system was asked to do" (for origination taps) or "how the phone system responded to" (for termination taps) a call setup request. A CDR is different. The CDR contains all information the phone system considered relevant for the processing a call, including such things as the carrier selected, party to be billed for the call, whether it was an 800 call or a credit-card call, the credit card number used, whether the call was answered, how many times it 'rang', whether the call was forwarded, the translation schema used, which trunks were traversed, etc.

    More to the point, while a pen register shows what was actually done, the CDR shows what the switch was told to say was actually done, regardless of what actually took place. Under certain circumstances that's considered to be the more correct behavior.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments