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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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  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:24AM (#15317189) Homepage Journal
    it appears that the public values security over privacy

    Then they'll have neither.

  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:25AM (#15317194)
    from the getting-the-government-they-deserve dept.

    Nuff said.
  • by It doesn't come easy ( 695416 ) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:25AM (#15317203) Journal
    It depends on how the data is handled and stored, who gets to analyze it, how long it's kept, where else it can be used, etc., etc., etc. And it depends on whether it is legal or not.

    It's might be OK for the NSA to use who you call to establish close ties to a terrorist.

    It's not OK for the current conservative White House to use your phone contacts to estimate your opinion of the current energy policy.

    It's not OK for Homeland Security to use your phone contacts to require extra screening at airports because you work with legitimate exporters in the middle east.

    It's not OK for the RIAA to gain access (via the FBI?) to your phone contacts to use for guilty by association accusations in their ridiculous lawsuits.

    Bottom line, do you trust this Presidency to stay within the law governing privacy, search and seizure, and due process? At this point, the current administration has basically said (without using so many words) that they are above the law. However, as an American citizen, I can very definitely say they are NOT above the law. This country is a country ruled by law and there is nothing short of a coup that the president can do about it. In fact, according to the law, if the President acts outside of the law, he (by law) would no longer have presidential authority. It's about time our elected officials learned how to stand up to the White House. Terrorism or no terrorism, the United States of American is first and foremost a country ruled by law, not by men.
  • by kefkahax ( 915895 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:26AM (#15317208) Homepage
    It seems that American's are, indeed, no longer anything like their forefathers that they speak so highly of.
  • Of course. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:27AM (#15317214) Journal
    We're talking about Americans here. They're much better at rhetoric about how great and free they are than actually getting upset when their leaders turn out to be blatantly trampling rights enshrined in the constitution.
  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:28AM (#15317234)
    Why are stories like this a surprise? The American people, by and large, are perfectly happy with their new totalitarian fascist state.

    Those who really value freedom and democracy would be best served by leaving the damned place so we can see those who remain for the festering boil on humanity's behind that they truly are.
  • by GroinWeasel ( 970787 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:29AM (#15317236)
    "It's might be OK for the NSA to use who you call to establish close ties to a terrorist."

    You just said its OK for the government to consider ALL CITIZENS as potential terrorists AT ALL TIMES.

    Are you SURE thats "might be OK"?

    You just threw presumprion of innocence out the window, without even realising what you did, didn't you?
  • security??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:29AM (#15317238)
    it appears that the public values security over privacy

    How do they come to the conclusion that spying is equivalent to security? Allowing assumptions like this to slip into one's language create the way towards further invasions of basic rights.
  • by porkThreeWays ( 895269 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:32AM (#15317275)
    Scaring Americans into giving up their privacy is really getting old. A large scale terrorism attack is still very much possible today. Mistake after mistake has shown this. It's a dog and pony show. The presentation has changed, but gaping holes still exist. Amercians somehow believe losing their rights is helping terrorism, but in reality its not. Before 9/11 terrorism was almost non-existant in America. After 9/11 it's almost non-existant. Looking at raw numbers, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of things you should be more worried about killing you than a terrorist. Statistically I'd be more worried about being killed by a shark in the US.

    And I can't believe people are actually fooled into thinking somehow terrorism is a major threat. If you want to save the most amount of lives with the least amount of effort, fight obesity. It accounts for most of the top killers in America today.

    But obesity isn't patriotic. You can't hang a flag outside your house supporting the war on fat.

    Get a fucking clue people. Terrorism isn't a threat to your daily lives. If you actually think it is, then you've been emotionally manipulated by people who want your money and/or votes.
  • by ghostlibrary ( 450718 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:33AM (#15317284) Homepage Journal
    Okay, the NSA is just making correlations between calls. However, if any actor can be tied to Kevin Bacon in 6 steps, and any person to the President in 6 steps, doesn't this mean the NSA can tie any phone user to a terrorist at will in 6 steps or less?

    "I called my auto mechanic, who called a customer, who once called a lawyer friend, who represented a terrorist. So now I'm flagged as 'communicating with a terrorist'".

    Worse, the only way to weed out such 'spurious connections' is, of course, to get more detailed records of exactly who was called, and why, and what was said. So the concept is inherently flawed and can only be fixed by further privacy violations.
  • by stinerman ( 812158 ) <> on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:35AM (#15317314) Homepage
    As we all know "terrorism" is the root password to the Constitution. This question asks only about terrorism. I wonder what their answers would be if the question was:

    "Do you find the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate drug use?"


    "Do you find the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate copyright infringment?"

    We all know these programs will not be used for only terrorism, but for everyday crimes. Will people care then?
  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:37AM (#15317331)
    Americans who have given up on caring about anything truthful being discussed in today's world are not bothered by NSA spying.

    Seriously, if the NSA will not give security clearances (thereby stopping the investigation) to the Federal Prosecutors trying to investigate this alleged spying on Americans, does the US actually have ANY checks and balances on uncontrolled power?

    More importantly, does anyone even care?
  • by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <> on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:39AM (#15317357) Homepage Journal
    what is the point of privacy [...] if you are dead.

    Well, I think that Franklin implied something in that statement: you have to be willing to die to protect your freedoms. Don't forget he signed the declaration of independence and that was essentially the same as signing his own death warrant. After all, it made him essentially a traitor to the power-in-place at that moment.
    His quote has to be seen in that context. These days nobody seems to want to die for freedom anymore and hence the freedom is taken away piecemeal...

    Look, I'm not even American, but I do think I understand the historical context. I think that Benjamin Franklin was indeed a wise man and I am only a pinko-commie-euro-bastard.

  • by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot@astradyn[ ] ['e.c' in gap]> on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:43AM (#15317410) Homepage Journal
    I think most people see stuff like what happened in London and the cartoon riots and realize the alternative is much worse.

    Actually, no (and I say that as a Londoner, having personally experienced multiple terrorist bombs). No amount of spying on the general public will allow the government to wipe out terrorism. Yes, perhaps it will reduce it. Slightly. But I can assure you that the price for that reduction is too high.

  • IRS anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lester67 ( 218549 ) <ratels72082@mypacks. n e t> on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:44AM (#15317412)
    If you think what the NSA is collecting is bad, why not take a look at what you send the IRS every year. (Assuming you're living in America.)

    So big whoop....

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:44AM (#15317416) Journal
    It's time to start using an encrypted VoIP that doesn't use DES (which NSA owns the patent on). Besides the problem is that all of this "security" is reactive and doesn't really stop anything.

    Bipartisan backlash is to be expected. Democrats hate it for obvious reasons and Republicans hate it because many of them aren't getting relected this fall thanks to their disastrous policies that have run America into the dirt these last 6 years (Sorry folks "the truth" means nothing..only the facts).
  • by Jimmy King ( 828214 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:44AM (#15317419) Homepage Journal
    No, it's not ok at all for the government to double check all my phone calls just in case I was doing something wrong even though I've given them no reason to believe I have been. Why don't I let them check my house every night to make sure I don't have any stolen goods from my neighbor's house in there, too, and perhaps an escort to make sure I really am going to my office every morning and not the local top secret terrorist hideout. I haven't given them any reason to think that I'm doing those things, but they're at least as likely as me calling terrorists from my house to plan an attack.
  • Comfortably Numb (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:45AM (#15317422) Homepage Journal
    Maybe more Americans would reject the NSA domestic spying if Bush and his minions weren't relentlessly lying [] about the scope and depth of the program. Maybe if they were reminded that the Bush administration can't keep secrets [], or if they were reminded that presidents can't wiretap political enemies [], though they will certainly try, more people would reject it. Americans are always anxious to appear "patriotic", especially when told every day that we're at war for our existence, and we've been attacked by maniacs who would destroy us. Ask us on the phone if "you support the president", and we're at least 50% more likely to say "yes". Especially when we know the president is listening, and dimly remember that he can send anyone to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib for reeducation.
  • by typical ( 886006 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:45AM (#15317423) Journal
    As we all know "terrorism" is the root password to the Constitution.

    As can be seen by the Reichstag fire, it works nicely to bypass the governmental safeguards of other countries too.
  • by dominic7 ( 70356 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:45AM (#15317424)
    They are only collecting anonymous data, just like they were only listening in on international calls. Geez the bullshit just keeps growing.
  • by MyNameIsEarl ( 917015 ) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (0002fssa)> on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:46AM (#15317435)
    It's not OK for the current conservative White House to use your phone contacts to estimate your opinion of the current energy policy.

    Would it be OK if a liberal White House did that? Because if you think Democrats wouldn't use this information you are surely kidding yourself.
  • by Mattcelt ( 454751 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:46AM (#15317440)
    what is the point of privacy ... if you are dead

    What's the point of being alive without Liberty?

    It wasn't an idle statment when Patrick Henry said Give me Liberty or give me Death! []
    It is better to live free than die a slave.

    Privacy is a fundamental key to Liberty. Without the fundamental right to privacy, Liberty cannot exist.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:47AM (#15317457)
    Ok, I'll fill you in on a bit of history.

    There once was a country. They were known as Germany. The people of Germany wanted a stronger Germany and a stronger government. So they voted for a new group known as the Nazi party, which gradually eroded their civil liberties in almost the same manner as the current Bush administration. Eventually the Nazi party had enough control of Germany to establish Hitler as Germany's dictator and go on a rampage through Europe, killing lots of innocent people, especially jews.

    Even if you don't mind the government (which can send you away without a trial) having access to any of your opinions on it, (whoops, we accidently thought all our biggest denouncers were terrorists and sent them to GTMO, oh well, we'll just keep it confidential) there's an even bigger concern.

    People in congress talk on phones too. So do the supreme court judges. And with an administration that has a history of leaking intelligence information for political gain, I wonder how long it'll be before they threaten to "accidently leak" gathered phone calls from politicians who refuse to go along with them. Everybody has skeletons in their closets, politicians even more so, and now the White House is able to know exactly what they are and how to take advantage of them.
  • No one asked me... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by d3cr33p ( 629445 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:47AM (#15317458)

    But just in case anyone is wondering, not only is the NSA out of line, they are wasteing taxpayers money and their own time. But that aside, what do they do with the info? Where do they store it and how safe is it? Uncle Sam doesn't have a good running record when it comes to keeping their computers locked down.

    Finally, I love this question:

    What do you think is more important right now - (for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy); or (for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats)?

    Why not ask: ...for the feds to invade your privacy, even if it will do absolutely no good, or for the feds to not invade your privacy?

    By the way, what is a terrorist? All the people on the phone are thinking, "Terrorist = crazy religious radical from the Middle East that blows himself up along with lots of innocent people." But what if we define terrorist as anyone who doesn't have the best interests of the US government? Or who speaks out against the US government? Or won't do what the government tells them to do? (Good grief, that's the entire /. community!)

    People are excusing the NSA's actions based on a definition of a word that may not be the same for the NSA or our government. Even if it is the same today, will it be tomorrow?

  • by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:47AM (#15317461) Journal
    Benjamin Franklin must be spinning in his grave...

    This morning on NPR [], they interviewed a guy from the CATO institute [] (not exacty a bastion of left-wing liberalism) who said that while the NSA program, on initial review, appeared to meet the letter of the law, it certainly wasn't implemented in the "spirit" of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution [].

    I completely agree with this thought. It may or may not be a legal program, but whatever the legality, it is wrong on so many levels.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:47AM (#15317467)
    .....and another survey found out that the majority of Europeans don't understand why Americans view them as elitist pricks with a smug sense of superiority
  • by JDevers ( 83155 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:49AM (#15317493)
    Many times more people die from car wrecks, preventable heart attacks, etc than die from terrorism. 20,000 people in the US alone die every year from influenza and influenza related pneumonia(1), that is about seven times as many as died in the worst terrorist attack this country has ever suffered. (2) Don't misunderstand, I think radical Islam is a developing problem, but I don't think rooting out terrorists will really stop the problem. The way to stop the problem is to basically do the opposite of what we've done in the Middle East, not spy on every citizen in this country building a giant database of phone calls, emails, and snail mail packages. While the average person doesn't care about this now because they think the "terrists is gonna get me" if the same sort of monitoring was proposed in the mid-90s they would be pretty upset. This database is being built using the MOMENTUM of terrorism, not FOR terrorism. While they might actually catch a terrorist using this database, that doesn't make it worth it. If police came to everyone's house every day and searched them for weapons or plans, there would be virtually no violence in this country, there also would be no freedom, no independence, no innovation, and eventually no money. There is a fine line between protecting one's rights and preventing violence, that line shifts depending on the immediate threat. Terrorism doesn't constitute enough of a threat to justify this sort of action. What America really needs is a good "McCarthyism red scare" like event to take place for us to take back our government, my only fear of that is with a big enough database it might be fairly easy to link ANYONE to a terrorist organization...especially when THEY get to define what is a terrorist.

    1. luenza.pdf+influenza+deaths+2001+united+states&hl= en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=3 []
    2.,_2001_at tacks []
  • by Quintios ( 594318 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:50AM (#15317498) Journal
    Everyone keeps quoting Ben Franklin. I guess the question is, should these phone calls be considered essential liberty?

    Me personally I don't think so, but you might disagree.

    What's your opinion?

  • by boldtbanan ( 905468 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:51AM (#15317506)
    But Liberty is supposed to be secure by design
    Not true at all and the nation's founders knew it. Liberty is meant to inhibit the government's ability to outright restrict freedom, but it is inevitable that governments progressively chip away at citizen's rights over time. One of the founders (I forget which one off hand, I think Benjamin Franklin) was asked -- and I'm paraphrasing -- "Do we have freedom now?" and replied "Yes, for as long as we can keep it."

    The masses almost always value security over freedom until they have so little of either a revolution is born.

  • by theStorminMormon ( 883615 ) <> on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:55AM (#15317551) Homepage Journal
    I'm am SO sick and tired of this naive argument. The only reason I'm not more against the NSA program is that I'm convinced that if the people arguing against it are this stupid, then maybe it's not such a bad idea after all.

    The argument goes something like this: the founding fathers would never have sacrificed any degree of privacy for any degree of security. This should strike anyone and everyone that reads it as an utter absurdity. Problem 1: We already have given up privacy. That's an inevitble part of living in human society of any kind. Problem 2: Since we've already given up privacy to gain (among other things) security, the question becomes one of how much privacy for how much security. It's by definition not a question of absolutes, but of degree. Anyone who fails to see this is both utterly incompetent and damaging to the credibility of those who see that we do make trade-offs and would rather not make this particular one.

    I'm not arguing that this particular infringement of privacy is worth the security gains. I'm simply pointing out that anyone that thinks they would never sacrifice any amount of privacy for any amount of security is delusional (misunderstood and ill-used Founding Father quotes not-withstanding).

    I wish there were people out there who opposed the NSA operations logically and rationally because all you idiots make those of us who are actually interested in the trade-off going on have that much less credibility when we decide we don't want to trade off x amount of privacy for y amount of security in a given situation.

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:57AM (#15317575)
    lets see.. according to TFA 502 people were involved in this cold call based survey.

    let me break this down in terms of statistical bias.

    first off.. this so called "study" being offered by organizations which are supposed to be factual news sources uses only 502 people to infer the opinion over over 350 million us citizens.

    Further, it's done by cold call..

    Most people i know who value their privacy get a caller ID and don't bother picking up the phone at all unless they recognize the number!

    This means that anyone who participated in this survey didn't care enough about their own privacy to screen out telemarketers!

    These organizations can no longer be called news sources. I'm sorry but those methods just don't work as far as objective, thorough, and unbiased journalism.
  • by dputzter82 ( 552562 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:02AM (#15317628)
    I hate polls like this and the responses they bring. I, like 111 Million other americans (according to their numbers) hate this idea.

    Now that's a lot of pissed off people.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:03AM (#15317647) Journal
    Substitute "Communist" for terrorist, and you'll quickly see that we've been through this B.S. before.

    Good night, and good luck.
  • Re:Of course. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:04AM (#15317658)
    Can you point out where in the Constitution that it prohibits the recording of calls that were made?

    The 4th amendment. Listen, the government can't just but into your life for any extent whenver it feels like.

    The actual conversations are NOT being recorded and stored. It simply makes a record that Joe Blow called Muhammed Ihateamericans on a certain date.

    Irrelevent. Its not the governments business as to what I am doing when I am not suspected of doing anything. And its all calls, not just to suspected terrorists. Stop trying to phrase things so that anyone that disagrees is a terrorist. Most calls are from Joe Blow to aunt sue. Give it a rest already.

    This has been legal for the Federal Government to do this for a long time. In fact, such things have been taking place for decades.

    Its legal when they get a supoena, which is similar to a warrant. This is illegal as the vast majority are not suspected of anything.
  • by tassii ( 615268 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:06AM (#15317690)
    What you are missing here is the basic concept of our government. The Executive Branch (President) enforces the laws, the Legistative Branch (Congress) makes the laws and the Judicial Branch (Supreme Court) intreprets the laws.

    Equal, but Separate. Checks and Balances. Remember those terms from grade school? What you have here is an Executive Branch that has set itself above all the others. We call that a Dictatorship.

    Is it beyond redemption? Absolutely not. All that is needed is for Congress to get a spine and conduct some oversight like they are supposed to. Which, unfortunately, will never happen as long as the Party Line is more important than the Nation. I hate to say "I told you so", but the moment the GOP made public their "Contract For America", I could see that the GOP would no longer be able to vote their conscience, but will be required to vote according to some hidden GOP agenda.

    In other words, they would no longer be Our Representatives , as was intended.
  • by marlinSpike ( 894812 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:09AM (#15317714)
    The fact that Americans can be led to support just about any conclusion is an unfortunate matter of fact. Just hurl the flag around enough, and there you have it -- like sheep we bleat in acquiescence.

    I'm appalled at how President Bush has gotten away with extending Presidential Power to such limits that he has effectively put himself above the law. The administration has refused to answer specific questions about the NSA Spying program, while denying Congress the right to question administration officials in an open forum, thus effectively putting the spying program beyond ANY oversight. How scary is that?!

    And this... from a President from the Republican party?! This is the party of less government? HA! This party has so enraged traditional Republicans and terrified Americans of every other stripe that I'm inclined to believe (hope), that the neo-cons are banished once and for all in 2008.

  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:11AM (#15317736) Journal
    Statistics from 2002: * Heart Disease: 696,947
    * Cancer: 557,271
    * Stroke: 162,672
    * Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 124,816
    * Accidents (unintentional injuries): 106,742
    * Diabetes: 73,249
    * Influenza/pneumonia: 65,681
    * Alzheimer's disease: 58,866
    * Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 40,974
    * Septicemia: 33,865
    * Suicide: 30,622
    * Murder: 16,110

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that our "war on terrorism" has costed us more than we spend on all of these other problems combined... maybe even by an order of magnitude. There's a difference between "We were attacked! Let's do nothing." and "We were attacked! Let's get our intelligence agencies to talk to start talking to each other and let's increase airline security." And there's a huge difference between the latter and "We were attacked! Let's spend close to a trillion dollars on wars and homeland security and allow the government to do unlimited search and seizures without warrants, force protesters into Free Speech Zones because they're (supposedly) a security risk, allow indefinite imprisonment without trial, allow the government to strip anyone of their USA citizenship without trial, and allow the NSA to monitor every single USA citizen when none of the terrorists on 9/11 were actually USA citizens.

    You want a definitive change that will make America safer vs. terrorists? Here ya go, this is the only one that will work: switch to biodiesel/ethenol/hydrogen (with a trillion dollars of spending, we COULD make this happen) and tell Israel they're on their own (sucks to be them, but I would have no sympathy for someone who founded a nation in the Antartic and complained when their toes started falling off... similarly, I don't have a lot of sympathy for the all-too-predictable holy war Israel has been drawn into.)

    Or, you and the rest of America can grow some fucking balls and realize that freedom isn't free. The price we pay isn't measured in dollars or even in the lives of our soldiers--it's measured by the lives of you, me, and every other civilian. Every day we put our lives on the line, even though our risk vs. terrorism and murder could be lessened if the government took draconian measures such as tagging us, putting cameras in our houses, and monitoring every single call we make. But that's not a fair tradeoff, not when murder and terrorism represent such a tiny tiny percent of our country's problem. We should not be monitored in any way without a warrant, and you're a damn fool for not seeing how this could be abused.
  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:12AM (#15317743) Homepage
    If you aren't Al Qaeda, if you aren't calling Al Qaeda, and if Al Qaeda isn't calling you then you aren't being spied upon without a warrant. Period, end of story, nothing more to see here.

    Well, given that there is no oversight and no ability for any party in our so called "checks and balances" system to verify this claim, that is a mightly odd statement for you to make. On what do you base this assertion? Or we are all cool now with just blindly trusting anything the whitehouse says for the remainder of the war on terrorism (read: forever)?

    If we are going to remove any checks and balances type oversight and assume nobody in power ever makes mistakes, is corrupt, or abuses power for personal/political gain, then why even fuck with a criminal justice system? Obviously any intelligence agency so capable of identifying terrorists to wiretap would also be capable of identifying all criminals? We could completely dispense with the cumberome system of juries, lawyers, and judges and just let the infailable intelligence community finger criminals and lock em away based on their word.

    When a liberal democrat gets into power are we going to just assume that they will not abuse this power just as you believe Bush would never abuse it? Or does this blind and baseless trust only apply to him?
  • by renderhead ( 206057 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:12AM (#15317744)
    Yes, it all sounds very bad until you realize that "the public values security over privacy" is a false statement, or at least very misleading.

    The truth is that the public values a certain amount of security over a certain amount of security. Everyone has their threshhold, and it's different from person to person.

    For example, I'd object greatly to having surveillance cameras mounted in my home if the conditions were "the cameras are a permanent fixture so the government can better protect our nation from terrorists". On the other hand, I wouldn't object at all to the same cameras if the conditions were "they are a temporary fixture so that we can track down and arrest a serial killer who was recently spotted entering your house." Heck, I'd help them install the things!

    In that case, the security issue (my life was in immediate danger from a murderer) outweighed the privacy issue (I might get caught picking my nose on camera).

    In the case of the phone record issue, the 63% cited have weighed the loss of privacy in this case (the government knows who you've called, when, and how many times, but not what you said) against the perceived security threat (the chances of averting a terrorist attack are improved by the government having this data).

    Disagree if you want - observe that 37% of those surveyed did. But don't accuse the other 63% of being stupid sheep unless you know what reasoning they applied to their opinion. What are they personally giving up (in more specific terms than just "privacy")? What are they personally gaining?
  • by surfingmarmot ( 858550 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:12AM (#15317749)
    The Founders were very concerned about freedom of assembly--the curtailment of that freedom was one the methods dictators, in this case King George and the Tories, use to suppress dissent. If the 'government' could monitor the revolutionary meetings and find out who attended, they could then quietly round the participants up one by one later. In the modern age, the telephone is used to arrange many meetings. If any government wants to repress freedom of assembly and quash dissent, what better way than to have a list of a dissenter's contacts to round up for questioning? A few police dragnets and stakeouts and the matter is closed. They don't need to know the content of the call--association is 'guilty' and you are on the call list so you are brought in for quesitoning. Sure, there is a remote possibility the NSA _might_ find find some terrorists in this net, but this brute force drift net is going to trap and drown as a 'side kill' our freedom with much more certainty. The fact that this escapes the average American is no surprise--most of them have never read the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution and many don't recognize paragraphs from them when given in a poll. Freedom is too important to be trusted to the uneducated mob.--they won't miss it until they need it and then it will be too late.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:13AM (#15317759) Journal
    There is no such thing as a random telephone poll.

    Here's a statistic for you, 100% of people polled by telephone said they were "willing to participate in telephone polls"!

    This is especially relevant here, since those that value their privacy are less likely to participate in telephone polls.
  • by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <> on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:13AM (#15317764) Homepage Journal
    So fighting in Iraq is fighting for the freedom of Americans? Huh? Can you elaborate? I frankly see no connection.

    I also want to point out that mandatory conscription has been abolished in many European countries, so the people that enroll into the military also enroll whilst knowing that they can and will die for their country.

    Also, (at the risk of invoking Godwins law), do you really think all Europeans sat still when they were invaded by Nazi Germany? I [] don't [] think [] so [].

  • by lbrandy ( 923907 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:13AM (#15317769)
    .....and another survey found out that the majority of Europeans don't understand why Americans view them as elitist pricks with a smug sense of superiority

    What I've always found curious in these discussions where Europeans start babbling on about the ignorance-filled American dystopia. America, despite the NSA wiretapping and call database, is still eons ahead of most of Europe in terms of government intrusion. The UK, for instance, does incredible stuff that would get people crucified here.

    In my industry, we work with people from many countries... and I can see with absolute certainty that if you do not want the government snooping in your life, America is generally a far better place to be than Europe. Omnipresent video surveillance, automatic liscense plate recognition, and a central database of liscense plates, their locations, and the times. That's reality in parts of western Europe. They don't even lie and say it's for terrorism... it's for dealing with normal criminal activity. They are actively trying to acquire face detection/recognition software to start tracking individuals throughout the community, as well.

    I have no problem with Europeons mocking America for not living up to their stated values. However, let's not get self-righteous... kettles and pots will reign supreme.
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:14AM (#15317778)
    no, only about 10% of what Bush has done has kept us from further attack, and the other 90% is about turning the U.S. into a police state. And the bungled war on Iraq was a huge side-track to continued efforts to exterminate those who attacked us, we have woefully few of our armed forces pursuing the masterminds of the 9/11 attack. Bush caling the Iraq war part of the "war on terror" either means he's a liar and/or a complete shit head.
  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:15AM (#15317788) Homepage Journal
    I think it's a little more sophisticated than that.

    If you have a list of how has called who, when, and for how long, you can diagram out connections between people and see who are the most influential. Have a look at this image [].

    My guess is that they are looking for people who have influence, who are at the center of social hubs. These people are leader-like; they are charismatic and people want to listen to them. They have a lot of connections. They aren't consciouly trying to build an organization or influence people; they are just popular and social.

    If you want to put the kabash on any fomenting organization, or group of people that are causing your problems, just 'take out' the few charismatic leaders. If you look at the image above, if you put 'Ron' and 'Patti' under house arrest, you would pretty much kill any communication between the red and green groups.

    It's a way of keeping information from tavelling between people, so then people must rely on official news sources.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:16AM (#15317806)
    There's a further problem that was seen during the election. Telephone polling is usually limited to landlines, but many young people use a mobile exclusively. So the demographics are screwed even before you start.
  • by badmammajamma ( 171260 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:20AM (#15317854)
    This is, unforuntately, very true. I get extremely pissed off when I have to explain to a fellow American why this shit is important. When people say they don't care about the NSA monitoring them because they have nothing to hide I just cringe. (And people wonder why history repeats itself. ) Perhaps our education system is in a complete state of failure.

    Bin Laden has kicked our ass in a way that is so much better than mere body counts. He has cost us hundreds of billions in dollars and, more importantly, managed to shift our entire belief structure. As far as I'm concerned, the terrorists have won. I'm sure this turned out better than Bin Laden ever imagined.
  • by rhakka ( 224319 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:21AM (#15317864)
    Well, I'll tell you one thing that is an utter waste of time: airport security. Why? Glad you asked. Because after the entire world saw what can happen when you are on a plane that is hijacked and they say "sit quietly and no one will get hurt", hijacking will *never work again*.
  • by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:24AM (#15317900)
    So this 63% are not stupid, as the liberal left constantly alleges, but happy for the powers that be to use one of the few tools they have to give us some small protection from suicidal, religiously deranged nihilists.

    Really. And just how big a threat do you think these folks are to us? That is to say, where does the probability of being killed by an Islamic fanatic rank against the probability of being killed by automobile accident, drowning, lightning, snakebite, heart attack, or cancer? This terrorist business has been blown waaaaay out of proportion.

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and thus clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. -- H.L. Mencken

    Remember the War on Drugs?

    It surprises me just how poorly the reality of global jihad has sunk into American mainstream consciousness.

    Do you mean the Jihad that we are creating through our failed foreign policy? It seems to me that our current "leaders" are doing everything in their power to ensure that WW3 comes to pass and that it will be fought over religion. Here's a clue for you --- not all of the religious fanatics subscribe to Islam.
  • Wrong Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thecitruskid ( 468923 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:25AM (#15317905)
    The question is too abstract for most Americans. Instead of "do you care if the NSA has access to the numbers you call?" they should do some digging and ask "why did you call 555-6789 six times last week?". Somehow I feel this would generate a completely different emotional response.
  • Is it any wonder? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by edbarbar ( 234498 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:26AM (#15317914)
    After years of the government providing "safety nets" in the form of massive social welfare programs, after years of socialists telling people "Government is the answer," you wonder why this result. After years of the smartest and best making law after law to protect give special protection to each minority group they can pander to, is it any wonder? The lawmakers tell what you can and can not say at work, the lawmakers talk about crimes of hate, the lawmakers make you give them money so they can give old people drugs, social security, etc.

    Is it any wonder we fear terrorism. After years of our press telling us we can't understand anything, and hiding truth in euphamisms, is it any wonder we fear it. After years of making criminals into victims, and terrorists into criminals, is there any wonder why we fear we aren't being told the truth?

    It's odd to me the same group of people worried about call lists in the NSA database are the same ones who create this massive nanny state.
  • by Garse Janacek ( 554329 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:26AM (#15317918)
    You're making it sound like everyone who opposes the wiretapping is in this monolithic block of people that all have the exact same extreme opinion. That's not really accurate, and I don't know why you'd pick that up from occasional Ben Franklin references, since there is at least some variety of opinion even in the relatively-polarized slashdot forums.

    You want a rational argument: The information the NSA is getting is illegal. There is a very specific legal process for obtaining wiretaps, and they aren't using it. If they want to be able to do this, they should use the existing legal procedures, or the law should be changed to accomodate the new ones. If they can't obtain this ability through legitimate legislation, why should they be able to do it? Of course there is some degree of tradeoff between privacy and security, but large-scale wiretaps have not turned the tide in the war on terror, and they are illegal.

    You seem to be convinced they're okay because stupid people are opposing them, which seems strange to me since there are plenty of stupid people in any large group, which includes both sides of most political debates, and often stupid arguments get the most airtime (and/or their proponents are the most vocal). For examples of stupid arguments in favor of the wiretapping, how about the government officials who keep insisting that their actions are not illegal? I don't know if you can call it "stupid" when it's just a blatant and easily checked falsehood, but come on. This is the best they can do?

    There are checks and balances built into our system for a reason. The executive branch should not be able to disregard that in the name of security, because it is illegal, and any legitimate trade-off between privacy and security should be made in full view of the public and according to a democratic process. Why are we so insistent on spreading democracy to the rest of the world if we're so willing to bypass it ourselves when it's expedient?

  • Best phrase ever. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Poromenos1 ( 830658 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:27AM (#15317925) Homepage
    The masses almost always value security over freedom until they have so little of either a revolution is born.

    This is probably the best phrase I've ever seen. I hadn't thought about this until now, I was just wondering how (since societies apparently eventually seem to self-regulate and converge to some point) it is possible that so many freedoms are continuously chipped away from the people. Now I realise freedom is not a graph that converges somewhere, but one that lowers enough to pass the tolerance threshold, where a revolution brings it back way up, only to get it chipped at again in time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:27AM (#15317929)
    "Considering the US military is a all volunteer service and every single american soldier in Iraq and Afgnaistan as well as all over the world volunteered to join the military knowing the risks, i think you don't understand the US at all. The US is not europe, people here actually are willing to fight and die."

    Check that.

    Poor people are willing to fight but they have no desire to die. They are in the military for the money and mostly due to shady recruitment tactics. It's strange that other countries are as free as we are but don't need to take all these precautionary measures.

    I guess i'm angry because they are so stupid that we found out about it. Shouldn't intel gathering be a little more discreet?
  • I was going to say the same kinda thing, except I was going to ask which liberty we're giving up.

    For those that say "search and siezure", your phone calls are already someone else's business (the phone companies). And most of them gave up your info willingly. I'm afraid in this one, it is the phone companies you should be mad at, not the government.

    I do think it was wrong of the government to ask, but it was clearly wrong for the phone companies to roll over.
  • by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:31AM (#15317969)
    Amendment IX:

    "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

    You've got it backwards. The need is to prove that it's NOT an essential liberty.
  • Re:IRS anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by protohiro1 ( 590732 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:31AM (#15317974) Homepage Journal
    That information is something I send to the IRS. I know what it says, and it doesn't include my private phone calls. Just my income. And any spending I choose to deduct. A little harder to use that info for evil. Also, in order for tax collection to work, they must have that info. But, to protect our privacy there are many things they cannot do with that data. Just like the NSA isn't allowed to do what they are doing. Because when we give the government powers we create laws to check those powers. This administration has claimed that they don't have to obey those laws. And that is the problem. The government asserts the right to break any law they see fit. This is a problem, don't you think?
  • Re:Of course. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:35AM (#15318009) Journal
    Now, really. Would you be comfortable saying that exact same thing to any of the tens of thousands of direct parents/children/siblings of people actually killed by these "non-special" people in New York, Bali, Madrid, or London? Face to face?

    Yes. I would.

    The more you fear this enemy, the more power they have. If you decide that it's worth fearing terrorists because you lost a loved one in a terrorist attack, then you're pissing on their graves.
  • by HairyCanary ( 688865 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:35AM (#15318012)
    What is especially sad to me is that we have allowed the terrorists to win. What they did directly caused a statistically insignificant amount of damage to this country.

    What we did to ourselves in response, however, is far more impressive.

  • by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <ckratsch@gmail . c om> on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:36AM (#15318023)
    Might be, if it's legal.

    Anything the President wants to be legal is legal, as GW Bush has signed set asides for ~750 laws, essentially nullifying those laws in a time of war. Yes, previous presidents have done this, for a total of about 350 times prior to GW Bush.

    When the president comes out and says that all the surveillance they're doing is legal, it may just be because he set aside the law which makes it illegal. So technically he's right; all surveillance is legal, because GW Bush said it's okay to ignore the laws making said surveillance illegal.
  • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:38AM (#15318042)
    Well, if they don't value their security sufficiently, their privacy will be moot because they will be dead. So this 63% are not stupid, as the liberal left constantly alleges, but happy for the powers that be to use one of the few tools they have to give us some small protection from suicidal, religiously deranged nihilists.

    So let me get this straight. You think the government should be able to just basically ignore laws requiring warrants and oversight and just do whatever it wants without any assurance to the people (and "we're protecting your privacy" sound bites don't count)? You think that the hundreds of years of laws that exist to protect the people from government abuses aren't there for a reason? If you really think governments don't abuse their people to get richer and more powerful at their expense, open your eyes and look around. IT HAPPENS.

    Serving the people by keeping them safe is a function of the government. Violating their rights and not being accountable to those same people is not. The government must carry out its protection function while at the same time obeying the laws and making itself accountable and carry out the function of not abusing the people.

    Why do you hate America?
  • That would be the "Lyme Disease - hey, at least it's not AIDS!" argument.

    Just because the current political climate in the United States "isn't as bad as ______[insert country]" doesn't make it ok.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:41AM (#15318082) Journal
    Well this poll apparently had 47 questions.

    I suspect that the subset of people that value their privacy, and people that are willing to answer 47 questions on the phone with a stranger about their personal beliefs, are probably not very overlapping, as this poll shows.
  • Two points (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:43AM (#15318104) Homepage Journal
    a) I'm guessing the practical negative implications of this have not yet begun to materialise. Whenever I hear anyone offer the rationale that "only wrongdoers have anything to worry about," I remind the speaker that it's the government that holds the definition of wrongdoing, (in a legal sense) and who can thus change it. Hence, you might be going about your business, doing something which previously wasn't considered wrong at all, and you'll suddenly get a visit from a government worker wanting you to answer some questions. Hold on...You're not doing anything wrong, right? Well, you see sir, there's been this new legislation passed recently...

    b) People obviously must not have much faith in the pre-existing legal framework...either that, or they're entirely willing to ignore it, which is perhaps even more alarming. The point though is that...hasn't anyone stopped to consider that maybe the reason why wiretapping has been completely illegal up to this point is *because* it's so dangerous? Although it hasn't happened recently, there was a time when laws existed for valid reasons. ;-)

    Either way though...this is an indication that things are nicely on track for the expected naked coup de tat/subsequent revolution in 2008. Although it may seem unbelievable, as I said above, the negative ramifications of everything Bush has been doing still haven't entirely registered with a good portion of the population yet...they're still not hurting enough. Eventually that will change, however...and when it does, there's going to be complete chaos.
  • by mdpowell ( 256664 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:44AM (#15318111)
    > It's a non-issue because collecting call data is not monitoring.
        > If you want to call it monitoring, then Ma Bell has been monitoring us since
        > private lines were introduced.

    IMO people are missing the point about why this logging is so bad.

    Monitoring who we call, when, and for how long is the same as the government compiling a list of our friends, family, and buisness associates, and using that network to go on a fishing expedition for suspicious activity. I don't know about you, but I don't want the government knowing how many times I called my doctor last week and how the timing of those calls corresponded to calling my family members. Something as simple as that information could be used to make (possibly incorrect) inferences about my health. This database has a chilling effect on free association.

    To say the database is OK because it omits "personally identifying" information such as names and addresses is misleading; your phone number is nearly as unique and identifier for you as your SSN and a more unique identifer than a common name like Robert Johnson. And the data are easily associated with names anyway through tools such as

    My understanding is that in the past, the courts frowned on massive fishing expeditions for evidence against individuals that were not personally suspected of a crime.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:50AM (#15318183)
    You forgot to mention that in 2009, Bush leaves office,

    Unless of course there is another terrorist attack right before the next election. Im just saying!
  • by Spaceman40 ( 565797 ) <blinks.acm@org> on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:53AM (#15318225) Homepage Journal
    Bravo. I wonder when people like the GP will understand that the Constitution's only a piece of paper. It's just like money; only worth something because people think it's worth something.

    Take a group with no respect for the principles behind it (and no checks and balances on their power), and it's worthless. The founders wanted to make sure it was really difficult to get around the checks on power for each branch of government, but these checks have been slowly eroding for over 200 years now.

    What's to stop a law being passed that restricts free speech? The president's veto power, the bicameral legislature, and the courts. If none of these are used, the bill of rights is useless.

    It's a piece of paper - why can't people understand that it doesn't magically bind anyone to anything?
  • by shummer_mc ( 903125 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:57AM (#15318270)
    "...until more of us start getting killed by terrorism on our own soil, we should simply continue the same. "Business as usual" you say?"

    Yeah, I'd say so. Do you realize that this one terrorist attack has shaken America's faith in their government (which could easily become completely de-stabilized)? Do you realize that as a result of our government constantly eroding our freedoms ("It's only phone records"...) as a measure to stop this "war", terrorism has proven the most powerful force on Earth?

    A couple thousand lives (2,500/298,709,755 = .0008% -- less than the remainder of your 'statistic'-- of the population) aren't worth that. I'm sorry. You can have mine, too. I'll gleefully submit my life (I used to serve in the armed forces-- so this is not foreign to me) to take back all of the nasty things that have occurred as a result of this terrorist act.

    -- rant --
    I am SUPER frustrated that we don't realize that "not bargaining with terrorists" (the legendary policy of the US gov) MEANS not being provoked into a protracted engagement on foreign soil (which in 600BC China was considered stupid, too). I can never understand why this "war" was supported; I can never understand why we invaded a third party country PREEMPTIVELY; I can never understand how so many people can support this obvious-MORON president. However, I am only one vote (I tried to changed the minds of my ultra-conservative family before the last election-- but was unable).
    -- end rant --

    "Business as usual" is a hell of a lot better.... I, for one, DON'T welcome our new, fear-mongering overlords.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sdirrim ( 909976 ) <sdirrim AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:00PM (#15318297) Journal
    A total of 502 randomly selected adults were interviewed Thursday night for this survey. Margin of sampling error is five percentage points for the overall results. The practical difficulties of doing a survey in a single night represents another potential source of error.

    502 people is not representative of hundreds of millions of people, especially given the 'sources of error'. Also, the article said more than half of people polled supported Bush's handling of privacy matter.
    51±5 = 46 = less than half.

    Especially given that Bush's overall approval rate is approx 35%, according to CBS.
  • Re:MOD PARENT UP! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:01PM (#15318303)
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson

    To make this like a meeting and have an action item to leave with, this translates into

    1) Openly speak out. Yes, Bush should be impeached. Removed from office? Dunno, but impeachment is the first step to figure this stuff out.

    2) Join the NRA and learn how to protect yourself and your family _AND_ buy at least 20-30,000 rounds of ammo.

    Americans have become such lazy pussies over the years, I guess because they don't think too much, and times have been good for a while, but that is changing, and we need to change in turn.

    We need to be outraged about the BS this government is doing nowadays. No, its not OK to tap my phone. Worried about terrorism, protect our borders thank you. You have the personnel and equipment, now go do your job. With the millions of people walking into our country every year, and the tons of "illegal" goods coming by boat, airplane, tunnels, car, and tractor trailer, its trivial to do a substitute on the cargo for "terrorist" goods and services.

    We run this country, not the government. The government works for us, remember?

    The "Psyops" the government has waged against people in the US and abroad has worked very well on the weak minded people. These manipulations of the government by citing the "War on terror" and the "Save the children" campaigns are clever, and have worked for a while on stupid people, but those days are over.

    Also every time this wiretap nonsense gets mentioned, remember that al Queda (according to the 9/11/01 report) got away with the attacks because _they did NOT use any electronic form of communication_.

    Tapping phones and all of the other illegal shit the government is doing is only a form of terrorism against the people of this country. None of these current efforts will affect the "bad guys".

  • by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:06PM (#15318349) Homepage Journal
    Oh bullshit. Come on. You've got to be kidding.

    I've got a better chance of being hit by lightning that being killed by the (boogeyman) Terrorists. This whole 'terrorists are going to get you' nonsense has gone way too far. Yes, it's a risk, but no reason to go belly up to the threat. Be a man about it. You WILL die someday. It probably (nearly definitely) won't be terrorists. Are you giving up all your privacy and other rights to avoid it?

    Yes, you will die. Think beyond yourself. Your children will live on for a while after you are gone, and your grandchildren after that. Think fourth dimensionally - what kind of a world are you building for them? You want them to be slaves with no freedom of thought, unable to speak their mind because they are being monitored 100% of the day? Just so the fucking boogieman terrorists can't get you?

    Terrorists are a lame red herring. There's always been terrorists, there always will be unhappy people in this world. Take appropriate measures against the risk, but don't become OCD about it and go into a sheep spasm.
  • by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:08PM (#15318368) Homepage
    The masses almost always value security over freedom until they have so little of either a revolution is born.

    Probably true, but consider this: freedom is defined as the ability to take actions that you desire without being restricted; the concept of freedom itself says nothing about preventing others from knowing what you are doing. In fact, if someone wants to know what you are doing, and you prevent them from finding out, you are restricting their freedom to information. On another note, let us consider another freedom: the freedom to kill anyone you desire; this is a freedom which has existed since time immemorial, ingrained in the very psyche of humanity. Yet, in order to get the assurance that we probably won't be the victims ourselves, we choose to forgoe the freedom to murder in exchange for the security of not being murdered ourselves. This lies at the core of social contract theory [], the pillar upon which our society stands.

    P.S. Whatever happened to the dream of everyone having perfect access to all information; "information wants to be free" they exclaimed, and yet, when that information is of value to themselves, they want to preserve it. They desire a monopoly upon it (a copyright which never expires), and in the process, have they not murdered the very dream of an open source society?
  • by Spaceman40 ( 565797 ) <blinks.acm@org> on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:16PM (#15318453) Homepage Journal
    "their privacy will be moot because they will be dead."

    Have you taken a look at death statistics? Deaths by terrorism in 2005 (around the world) number somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 (reports vary). Deaths by car accident? 42,636, in the US alone. Don't talk about terrorism as if it's the biggest threat to life in the world today. We'd have better luck sending the NSA against cancer, for example, or using the money to purchase portable defibrillators.

    So use some other argument for this - "They're attacking our country, we must defend ourselves," perhaps. Just don't use FUD.

    (by the way: I know a bunch of smart people on the right. In fact, they generally have very compelling arguments for smaller government. This sort of thing, though, is not smaller government - why is it conservative?)
  • by hendersj ( 720767 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:25PM (#15318568)
    ...that the Americans in this poll are particularly interested in preserving - the right to bear arms. They seem to forget about little things like the free exercise of religion, speech, the right to a free press, the right of assembly, the right to be free of unreasonable search and siezures - particularly without warrants - and the right to a public and speedy trial.

    It's interesting to me that those who fight for the right to bear arms because they don't trust the government to not interfere with that are more than OK with the government deciding what is reasonable with the search & siezure rule because "they have nothing to hide".
  • Re:MOD PARENT UP! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:25PM (#15318570) Homepage
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson

    Fair enough, but keep in mind that the founding fathers were more than willing to fight wars. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson (and the American people) went to war against Tripoli (in North Africa, for the historically and geographically challenged) for reasons that would confuse most Americans today (Tripolitan War []). Today's society is paralized by the death of 3000 Americans in a conflict that they themselves have not come anywhere near experiencing first hand. Do you truly believe that a civil war, arguably the most brutal type of war, fought on American soil will be more pleasant than the Iraq war?
  • by tombeard ( 126886 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:25PM (#15318573)
    "Perhaps our education system is in a complete state of failure."
    Or perhaps it is a complete success. Notice how we statred dumbing down right after the 60s and all the protests? I still remember "New Math".
  • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:27PM (#15318585)
    Even if the government had a recording of every overseas call I ever made, along with complete biographies of everybody I talked to, AND a list of my favorite internet pr0n sites, they'd still have less information about me than already does.

    You voluntarily turn your data over to Amazon. You don't voluntarily turn it over to the government, which is barred from having the data in the first place without a warrant.

    "Get over it"? That's the exact attitude that has led to illegal, immoral, and just plain wrong abuses like this! And it's disgusting.
  • by RogueLeaderX ( 845092 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:30PM (#15318621)
    "Any man who is willing to sacrifice a little liberty to gain a little security deserves neither and will lose both." Many people I speak with deny this quote applies to the activities of the U.S. government during the War on * (currently Terrorism) because law abiding citizens are not effected. The claim is, "Only those who break the law will be concerned about this, do you break the law?" No, I do not break the law, but I do study history. Typically change comes about slowly. Honestly I trust the current administration to use these powers as they advertise, to combat terrorism. Pretty "soon" (10-50 yrs.) citizens will consider these monitoring activities normal. The controversy will be about other bits of liberty that citizens must give up to make their nation more secure. People in power have a tendency to increase their power for various reasons. Unless the U.S. is truly blessed by God we will eventually get a truly evil or truly incompetent (or both) leader who will use the power others have built up improperly. (e.g. A religious nut who will institute thought crime, a hawk who will attempt to take over the world, a despot who will abolish our Federation, whatever else you can think of.) They will have the tools to crush opposition, given to them by generations of politicians with noble causes. Monitoring phone calls/transcripts is just one of those tools and I personally don't think the government should have it in their toolbox. Rogue_LeaderX Note: I'm made many statements here without providing concrete examples. I highly recommend studying China's dynastic cycles and/or European political history since the fall of Rome (especially after Louis the XIV in France.) Another good resource is Winston Churchill's volumes on WWII. Please don't just skim Wikipedia's entries. Wikipedia's overviews due show the changes, but lack any description of how they came about which, in my opinion, is more relevant to our current political debate.
  • by Odocoileus ( 802272 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:37PM (#15318687)
    I personally despise all of this crap coming fomr the gov't, but on a logical level it may be unavoidable. Here is why: When people still drove horse buggies there wasn't really a need for traffic enforcement. As automobiles became popular (and faster) more control over the traffic system was needed. This can be generalized to many systems, including our society. When the population was low there was more room for deviant behavior (or it was easier to observe and correct deviant behavior), but as the system approaches levels that are closer to full capacity, then better control is needed. The system requires tighter specifications.

    I am not an engineer and this may not exactly get my point across, but there are many /. readers who are smarter than myself, and I would like to know what they think about this.

  • by metternich ( 888601 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:42PM (#15318737)
    What I'm very curious to know is how effective their Data Mining was. Did they catch anyone using this system? How many arrests? How many convictions? How many terror related and how many "ordinary" criminals? People seem to be willing to cave if they're told something will make them safer from terror, even without any real numbers backing up the claim.
  • by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:48PM (#15318814) Journal
    Of course it applies only to him. The *moment* a liberal democrat gets into a position where there's even the possibility of using this framework, the very same people who currently support it will pass lots of incredibly strong laws against it. They're not interested in anything but their own power base and maximizing it at all costs, even -- or perhaps especially -- when those costs are borne by the American public.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:53PM (#15318866) Journal
    You've hit on what I think is the real issue: oversight.

    Where is the oversight? It would be one thing if the administration was doing this with congressional and judicial oversight. That would afford us at least a minimal protection of our civil liberties. However, the Bush Administration is determined to increase the power of the Presidency under the cover of post 9/11 security. They effectively wish to suspend the Constitution for the duration of the War on Terror, i.e., forever.
  • Re:MOD PARENT UP! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by srussell ( 39342 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:56PM (#15318908) Homepage Journal
    2) Join the NRA and learn how to protect yourself and your family _AND_ buy at least 20-30,000 rounds of ammo.
    Y'know, I admire the sentiment. However, I have strong doubts that any weapons you could muster would provide any sort of defense against the firepower the government can come up with. Personally, I think it's a form of mental masturbation for people to buy guns thinking that, somehow, they're going to be able to mount an effective insurrection against the government. It didn't work for the South [], it didn't work for the folks at Waco [], and it didn't work at Ruby Ridge [].

    I'm all for gun ownership. I think the statistic is that members of households with guns are three times more likely to be the victim of a homicide than non-gun households, so, by all means... stock up.

    --- SER

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:06PM (#15319001) Homepage
    The people in the US military are hardly volunteers. They're forced via leverage into combat through the realities of class difference.

    You're born poor. You get a substandard education because all of the educational dollars and community infrastructure are re-routed to wealthy districts since that's where both the lobbyists and the lawmakers are from since they have the resources to affect policy and ability and access to means to vote while the poor can't even afford to take a day off of work to do so.

    Because of this substandard education, you have few prospects in an economy in which labor is moving offshore to line the pockets of the very wealthy through the exploitation of cheap labor. To make things worse, there is NO WORK WHATSOEVER because there is no working economy in your part of town, and you can't afford to commute out of it to the other side of town where the rich people do have a working economy in order to land a job (nevermind the fact that they wouldn't hire you anyway--wrong side of the tracks and all).

    But it's a problem to have no prospects, since you live in the inner city and there is no social safety net. There is nowhere for you to grow your own food or improvise shelter, but there is also no social infrastructure to feed you and clothe you, much less provide you and/or your children with basic medical care. You . will . die . prematurely, and so will your children.

    BUT... The same Uncle Sam who won't guarantee you BASIC healthcare or fund the security force and investment necessary to help your community to feed itself or jumpstart its economy... comes along and says that if you are willing to carry a gun, he will feed both you *and* your children and provide you medical care and a retirement. Otherwise, you and they will suffer and die young. He promises you that it's safe, you won't die, the numbers are in your favor, our military is ultra-strong and ultra-well-equipped, it's like playing a video game, there's absolutely no risk, plus you'll get to travel and work with computers and get a better education and on-the-job-training and you'll finally have respect instead of being seen as a worthless piece of poor trash, and more to the point your . children . will . eat . and . be . healthy.

    What choice do you have? After asking your recruiter again and being promised that it's utterly risk-free, and looking around your dive on the south side and out the window at your graffiti-covered neighborhood with boarded up windows everywhere and drug dealers on every corner, and thinking once more about how you never were able to finish high school because the school was so dangerous you were afraid to go and they didn't actually have any *textbooks* for lack of funding anyway, and you'll never amount to anything and your family has a history of heart disease and cancer and you want to be there for your children... you sign on the dotted line.

    And then they send you to Iraq and you die.

    And Uncle Sam and his gronies even wealthier thanks to you, a poor person, having been forced into labor at gunpoint to force Iraqis into US service at gunpoint.

    And some shmuck posts to Slashdot about how you were happy to do it because you were brave and volunteer-minded.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Straif ( 172656 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:13PM (#15319078) 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?

    What else are they expected to do? Get a weekly article in the New York Times detailing all their clandestine activities?

    There are probably many things the various government agencies have done or continue to do without Congressessional knowledge, and that is always a dangerous thing, but the facts seem to indicate that the NSA programs don't fall into this category. The proper authorities were kept up to date on the various programs details and at the time, had no problems with them.

    I think the bigger story here is that there's been yet another leak of classified information without proper authorization. If these leakers who are sharing classified information with non-credentialed sources for their own personal reasons or political gain (there is a clear mechanism in place if they truly believed that a program was violating American law and leaking to a reporter is not it) continue to do this with such regularity, then they may as well just shut down the CIA and NSA and military intelligence agencies and just throw in the towel.
  • by xstonedogx ( 814876 ) <> on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:16PM (#15319109)
    Get some perspective. Do you have any clue how many people have died defending the liberties you're willing to give away because you lost an uncle?

    And what about money? In my family alone, I've lost three people to cancer (and more are in remission), including my 28-year-old aunt. So I understand your loss. But I'm not demanding or defending government expendatures of insane amounts of money to cure cancer even though about 200 times more Americans die of cancer every year than die in terrorist attacks. Feel free to add heart disease and a load of other things more deadly than terrorism to that list.

    And it would almost - almost - be justifiable and understandable for you to take that point of view, if the methods the government was using to fight terrorism were effective security methods that could actually prevent terrorism. They're not, though, and you're just proving the GP's point: You're being emotionally manipulated.

    Don't be angry at me. Don't be angry at the GP. At this point, don't even be angry at the terrorists - they're dead.

    Be angry at the people who are using your grief for your uncle and fear for your living loved ones to convince you that they need your freedom and money to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to you and the rest of your loved ones.

  • Re:french whine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hendersj ( 720767 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:16PM (#15319111)
    Ah, yes, the tired old "if you don't like it, LEAVE" arguement. Heaven forbid we should try to influence change in our country, much less hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

    Our government was founded on a principle (among others) of checks and balances. With two of three branches in the hands of a single party (regardless of whether it's republican or democrat), there are no checks and balances.

    If you were looking at a democratic executive branch and a democratic congress having their way with the American people, I'd bet you'd damn well not leave. Part of living in a democracy is giving the opposition a voice and allowing it to be heard. Perhaps you'd rather live in a dictatorship so you don't have to think any more?

    How about this: Let the government take your guns away. I'm not talking child safety locks, I'm talking about you not owning any guns at all. Period. Being prosecuted and locked up for violating the ban. Let's see if you stay quiet about that.

    What the Bush administration is doing is exactly the same - they are violating the fourth amendment and insisting that they "don't have time" to get a warrant. That's utter bullshit. They don't want oversight because they don't want to be held accountable. And if they don't want to be held accountable, that's all the more reason for the American people to rise up and DEMAND accountability.
  • by AoT ( 107216 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:21PM (#15319182) Homepage Journal
    Online polls are a horrible measure of opinion, even more self selecting than telephone polls.

    Damn likely that some partisan site posted the poll then a web swarm ensued.

    Also, those polls are posted next to an article and, depending on the exact content of the article, the poll can be even more skewed.

    Not that this mean Americans accept this, I haven't talked to anyone who does.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:5, Insightful)

    by natoochtoniket ( 763630 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:26PM (#15319240)
    There is no such thing as a random telephone poll.

    Here's a statistic for you, 100% of people polled by telephone said they were "willing to participate in telephone polls"!

    Here's another statistic for you: 100% of those people were also "willing to have the call recorded"!

    So, the only people who were asked if the approved of the NSA recording phone calls were the people who were both willing to have the phone call recorded, and willing to participate in a telephone poll. The people who objected to having the phone call recorded were not asked the third question.

    This isn't funny. It is just an abuse of statistics.

  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:27PM (#15319243) Homepage
    I have heard this 'above the law' bit a lot. However, it seems rather shrill. ... the Supreme Court seized that power ... Congress ... its power has expanded through seizure ... What the President is doing is promoting a view of Presidential authority that has waxed and waned throughout our history.

    It really sounds to me here like you're using a whole lot of words in this post to say "the people complaining about the Executive rising above the law are totally right, but I don't see why it's a problem, so I'm going to call them 'shrill'".

    Bush will be out of office. He won't become a dictator calling for a referendum on whether "Bush should be president" until 2031.

    Who cares about Bush? Seriously, who gives a shit? Bush will leave office in 2009, but we will still have a president. Bush isn't a threat at all, the threat is the intitutions and movements that put and are holding Bush in place. Bush is just the public face of those institutions. He is a mascot that both allies and enemies alike can latch onto and concentrate on until they forget that the U.S. government is a large number of people and processes working in concert, and not just one single man. He does his job very, very well.

    Even if the problem here were the men running the executive and not the runaway executive itself, it isn't like Bush being out of office will change a goddamn thing-- because Bush hasn't been running the country in the first place. He's been in office in the sense of sitting in the office, not running the office. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld each have better claims to the title "head of the executive branch" over the aggregate of the last four years, and none of these three men have term limits.

    The President will over-reach, Congress will express holy indignation, the President will retreat to a lesser, but still greater than before, position, and the Supremes will eventually mediate it all

    The President is overreaching now; Congress is doing absolutely zip nada nothing about it; and the normally-sacrosanct assumption that no matter how badly our elected leaders fuck up the Supreme Court (the great American playground monitor) will someday step in and clean the whole thing up, has been serverely compromised by the unfortunate incident that the exact people who are currently overreaching have just been allowed to replace 2 of the 9 justices of the Supreme Court.

    Its the way our system works.

    No, no no. This is the way our system breaks. The way our system works is when people "get their panties in a bunch", complain, and convince everyone to vote for something as different as possible. Or perhaps you actually think the way political progress happens is that good citizens sit polititely and remain attentive to the news while Congress "negotiates" for us which of our basic conceptions of what constitutes American government get to survive?
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AoT ( 107216 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:28PM (#15319258) Homepage Journal
    I think the bigger story here is that there's been yet another leak of classified information without proper authorization. If these leakers who are sharing classified information with non-credentialed sources for their own personal reasons or political gain (there is a clear mechanism in place if they truly believed that a program was violating American law and leaking to a reporter is not it) continue to do this with such regularity, then they may as well just shut down the CIA and NSA and military intelligence agencies and just throw in the towel.

    The people leaking this stuff need to be given medals. What we are seeing now is the intelligence communities response to the Bush administration's attempted takeover of the civilian agencies by the military. (see: nomination of a general to lead the CIA)

    I have to say, I am not a fan of all these secret police agencies operating in the US; I think we need to abolish all of them and reconstitute them with real oversight. But, I am overjoyed at the responsibility that these leakers are taking for informing Americans about these horrible programs.

    Remember, all, or most, of these people have taken oaths to uphold the constitution; and, it's good to see some people take their oeth seriously.
  • by topical_surfactant ( 906185 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:37PM (#15319335)
    My guess is that most Americans are more concerned about the "American Idol" voting mix-up than any domestic spying.
  • by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:44PM (#15319422) Homepage Journal
    Pfft. It's call data. BFD.

    With all due respect, you have no basis on which to so casually disregard the discussion.

    Today, those who are saying anything at all are discussing the collection of CDR's. Essentially pre-processed billing information. But three months ago, it was "no domestic survelliance of any kind" and six months before that it was a "very limited program affecting, at most, a few thousand calls" and only then if one end was overseas and a known terrorist was involved. Before that, nothing but silence. The trend is clear.

    ...they'd still have less information about me than already does.

    You misunderstand the function of privacy, as most people do. It is important for you to have your privacy, even if your privacy is not important to you. It is important to me for you to have your privacy. This applies even in a universe which contains only you and I, and even if we both agree that we don't need our own privacy and don't mind if the other keeps their own entirely.

    Do I care that you access port sites? Not in the least. Should I be concerned about you visiting porn sites? If you're an adult, it's really none of my business whether I care about it or not. But if I think you're underage, then I have a responsibility to care. Which means I have a responsibility to keep track of your age for the sole purpose of caring about you accessing porn sites in the event you happen to be underage. Maybe that would work if it's just us two. But with four billion people on the planet, if I spend all my time trying to keep track of every person's age, I'd have no time left to go after those sites that really are making money through the illegal act of allowing underage people to aggess porn.

    Another example: I haven't taken my truck in to have the brakes checked in over a decade. If you drive the same roads I do, should you be concerned? Probably. But you wouldn't be if you knew I put less than 100 miles a year on my truck, and am a certified mechanic. But if you are a member of the Traffic Safety Board, and you run the local Jiffy Lube, and your Service Visit Database tells you I haven't been in for a decade, you might develop a healthy concern. Heck, as a business owner alone, you might spot a sales opportunity. But your lack of knowledge about the specifics of my case leads you astray. That's despite the fact that I don't care if you know I'm a certified mechanic, or that I hardly ever drive the truck anyway. If you're just the Jiffy Lube guy, it may mean I get extra junk mail. Now thats a BFD. If you're on the Traffic Safety Board, maybe a cop spends the afternoon needlessly checking my brakes over, when he could have been pulling drunks off the road. Maybe that's a BFD, maybe not. If you're the NSA checking my phone records, and not understanding the legitimate reasons behind my suspicious calling pattern, it could mean wasting my tax money investigating some mechanic who doesn't drive his truck very much.

    And as bad as might be, they still can't toss you into Gitmo without a hearing, even in time of war.

    Privacy is an illusion.

    Arguing that privacy doesn't exist, shouldn't exist, or doesn't matter is probably pointless. More correct to say my privacy exists only if you choose to make it exist. If (and only if) you choose to respect my privacy, then together we can build a society of mutual respect. If you choose not to, then we will quickly find ourselfes back in the jungle, where either of us can take from the other, depending on who's bigger.

    But if privacy is irrelevant, why not have the NSA open-up the CDR's to everyone? Why should only the NSA be allowed to access that information. More to the point, if the Bush administration isn't doing anything illegal or anything (that it considers) immoral, why are they preventing the rest of us from finding out what's going on?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:44PM (#15319423)

    Terrorists are a lame red herring. There's always been terrorists, there always will be unhappy people in this world. Take appropriate measures against the risk, but don't become OCD about it and go into a sheep spasm.

    Actually, you can go one step further. Instead of arming yourself against the risk (or do both), you could try to make these unhappy people happy. For most of them, not a lot is needed.
    When they receive education, they might start to question what other people tell them.
    When their children are no longer killed because they don't belong to the 'right' tribe or religion, they might no longer feel that they have to lash out to others.
    When they get a fair price for the work and goods they produce, they might no longer feel they are being exploited by 'the west'.

    Most of the blind followers of tyrants don't do so because they thought things over, they usually just do it because they hope that somehow it will make their lives better.
  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @01:44PM (#15319424) Journal
    Oh my fucking god. Our ideology? You actually literally believe that they bomb us because they "hate our freedom"? Lay off the crackpipe. No one flies fucking airplanes into buildings because they "hate freedom."

    Yes, I seem to remember getting a mail from the government telling me I need to get RIFD in my arm next time I renew my license.

    If you were paying any attention at all, you'd realize I was making a point using a hypothetical scneario. Point is, we *can* gain increases in security if we sacrifice every last one of our freedoms (and yes, I do include the FREEDOM to associate people e.g. by calling them without being ruthlessly tracked), but that doesn't mean we should. The loss of 2,500 lives mandates at best a very small loss of freedom.

    Abandon Israel? You are definitely off your rocker now. They're the only thing keeping the Middle East from going completely insane.

    Oh yes, I forgot Israel has such a wonderful STABILIZING influence! I think you've got some rat poison in that crack of yours.

    Once Iran gets nukes, you can forget safety, regardless of whether or not we're driving cars on foreign or domestic oil-products.

    Iran getting nukes is indeed scary. Too bad we don't have enough resources to spare to take them on while simultaneously keeping Iraq from plunging into civil war. Maybe we should of thought of that before, you know, we declared war on a country that did not attack us (9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudi), does not openly support al-Qaeda, and had no WMDs (don't fucking tell me "everyone thought/knew Iraq had them!" because that's bullshit. The only "evidence" we had was classified, and then turned out to be blatantly false) Iran has a *huge* standing army...

    'm pretty sure everyone in America agreed that something should be done

    Yup, and something WAS done. Flight 93, despite having already given control of the plane to the terrorists, forced them to abort their mission. Any future hijackers will not even get this far (even disregarding the increased security)--they might stab a flight attendant or two before everyone on the plane kicks their fucking asses. On top of this, we made some much-needed changes in the intelligence community (improving inter-agency communication.) That's it; that's all that's needed. If you really want to end terrorism, you must take drastic action like banning all aliens and immigrants from Middle or taking away the things that connect us to them (oil and Israel.) What the hell is this phone monitoring going to do? It's going to show Arabs phoning other Arabs. Likely, every single muslim in this country is only 3-6 'steps' away from al-Qaeda, just like the Kevin Bacon game. If you want to deport all the foriegn muslims then just freaking DO it; don't pretend that monitoring the calling habits of the rest of us is going to make a damn bit of difference.

    Furthermore, just about all what you mention there are ISOLATED incidents. You don't have 2500 people dying of cancer in the same building at the same time.

    Yes, because 2,500 people dying at once is so much worse than millions dying over the course of one year! Really, your logic is so rational it's almost breathtaking.

    Not a member of the debate team, are you?

    At least I can say I'm not a member of the sensationalist spin machine.

    Most of what you mention is not nearly as preventable. Cancer studies have been going on for years and years and years, same with a lot of the other diseases you mention. We haven't made a lot of progress in a lot of those, just measures to prolong life a bit.

    That's just plain ignorant. We've made HUGE strides against many types of cancer, and we've got a slew of new heart disease medicines as well. And I'll wager we haven't spent well over one trillion dollars on research, either (including Afghanistan and Iraq, this figure is acturate.) Who knows what kind of d
  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:36PM (#15319986)
    "The governments of the present day have to deal not merely with other governments, with emperors, kings and ministers, but also with the secret societies which have everywhere their unscrupulous agents, and can at the last moment upset all the governments' plans".

    Who said that? Benjamin Disraeli, prime minister of Great Britain in the 1870s. By "secret societies" he meant exactly the same thing as we mean when we talk about "terrorist networks" such as Al Qaeda. Yet Disraeli and his great rival Gladstone did not set about tearing down all the guarantees of liberty in the British constitution - on the contrary, they valued them highly.

    9/11 was a terrible blow, and perhaps the greatest terrorist attack ever. Its effect was very much amplified by the USA's previous immunity to attack (by anyone except Americans themselves). But the butcher's bill was two orders of magnitude lower than those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and no higher than the total inflicted by the IRA on British civilians (admittedly over several decades). Thousands of times more civilians were killed in WW2, and again in Vietnam. And probably about a hundred times more civilians have been killed in Iraq (or died due to the war) since 2003.

    There is nothing in the least unprecedented about the present terrorist threat, and we should remember our ancestors - people like Lincoln, Grant, both Roosevelts, and Churchill - and ask ourselves how they would have reacted to it.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:26PM (#15320428)
    P.S. Whatever happened to the dream of everyone having perfect access to all information; "information wants to be free" they exclaimed, and yet, when that information is of value to themselves, they want to preserve it. They desire a monopoly upon it (a copyright which never expires), and in the process, have they not murdered the very dream of an open source society?
    A completely open society is not what we're moving towards. Rather it's a society where Big Brother has all the information, and the populace has very little (due to govt secrecy). For instance, your private phone calls are now open to the government. But the mere identities [] of those behind our national energy policy is a secret. If anything, it should be just the opposite; private matters should be private, and public affairs should be public, yet somehow we've got it reversed.

    Personally, I think even a completely open society (which I don't desire) would be better than one where the most important information is concentrated into the hands of just a few people.

  • by sgtrock ( 191182 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:42PM (#15320567)
    As someone who volunteered to serve in the US Navy at the absolute low point of the US military recruiting efforts (1977), I call bullshit on Every. Single. Point. It has /never/ been as bad as you make it out to be.

    Yes, the bulk of the guys in uniform are poor and are poorly educated. So? How is this different from any military anywhere in the world? The real difference is how those grunts are treated once they do enlist or are drafted.

    The truth is that the U.S. military is the single most egalitarian institution in the country. It has always been the most color blind, especially on the battlefield. It has always been the most tolerant of religious faith. It has historically provided an avenue for upward mobility for the poor and disadvantaged by providing education far beyond the simple "How to Carry a Rifle and Kill People" that you seem to think it is.

    You think I'm lying? Then compare the ability for any minority to advance in the military at any point in history to their civilian counterparts. I defy you to find a situation where they had fewer opportunities than they did in civilian life. If you are honest in your evaluations, at best you will only be able to show that they have rough parity between the two.

    The fact that you don't have a clue tells me that you never had the honor of wearing a uniform alongside a black from the slums of Chicago or Detroit. Or a hillbilly from Kentucky. Or a Filipino from the mountains of Mindanao. Or an American Samoan. Or a Mexican from the barrios of east LA. (or from Monterrey, Acapulco, Mexico City, or lord knows where).

    I did. Those sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, and soldiers were some of the finest individuals that it has ever been my privilege to know. The career people were virtually all dedicated, hardworking, loyal, honest individuals who took pride in doing a very difficult job under very trying circumstances. The rest of us were there because we also chose to. Putting us down by saying someone forced us to enlist at gunpoint or by lying to us simply shows just how ignorant you and everyone who modded you up really is.
  • by Jim_Callahan ( 831353 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @04:56PM (#15321224)
    Wow, I'm glad I live in the USA and not whatever US you live in. Over here, there are plenty of jobs which don't involve being a target, even with minimal education, and being poor, as in actually being unable to afford food, is so rare as to be essentially nonexistent. Even the jobless usually plenty of support... hell, most of them can afford televisions, cell phones, and cigarettes!

    Our military is all-volunteer, and has plenty of people from rural areas as well as the cities, roughly according to population. National law means that even a minimal tour of duty ensures an excellent secondary education, and as a result people with an interest in protecting their fellows in the country get a leg-up over those that don't, which pretty much everyone agrees is reasonable. My family on both sides has benefitted greatly from this system.

    You really should consider immigration, just petition the local embassy to 'reality' in your country.
  • Re:Yes, it was (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @05:29PM (#15321493) Homepage Journal
    "Under my supreme intellect I cannot think of any way in which a real-time social networking analysis could help in the WoT so it mustn't be useful."

    It's not a question of whether it's useful, it's a question of whether it's legal.

    When a nation puts the 'useful' ahead of the 'legal', one expects to see domestic spying, bribe taking, secret prisons, torture, imprisonment without trial, etc, etc, etc.

    "Dad, are we there yet?"

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

    by micheas ( 231635 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:07PM (#15321779) Homepage Journal
    502 randomly selected adults? You cannot draw any conclusion from that other than 502 people agreed to have their dinner interrupted (and even that is a sperious conclusion). 250+ million people living in the US and you expect 502 to represent them? Well, actually, I guess we do...and look at the bang up job Congress is doing....

    That this is moderated insightful is just depressing. This is something that is taught in intro to statistics, a class that one needs to understand in order to understand almost all research papers. This is especially distressing considering that this is a site geared towards people that have taken much more than the minimum amount of math and science classes. This would be worth a response on a site aimed at people with little technical knowledge, as is . . .
  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:52PM (#15323013) Journal

    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!

    It isn't that people don't know or care about their civil liberties, it's that they were asked a misleading poll question before most of them had had time to read anything about the subject they were being questioned on. And before you assume that it was an honest mistake, consider that the pollster is a known partisan hack with a history of biased polling [].

    This poll is nothing short of a brazen public opinion trojan trying to exploit the old "all your friends are doing it" security hole. We're supposed to hear about it and say "Well shucks, if most Americans are in favor of bending over for the soap, why should I be different? After all, they're from the government, and they're here to help us!"

    If you've been regularly applying security patches from trusted sources you should be immune to this exploit in any case.

    -- MarkusQ

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta