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United States Privacy

Most Americans Think Courts Are Failing To Limit Government Surveillance 281

Posted by samzenpus
from the always-watching dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "More than half of Americans believe that the federal courts have failed to limit the U.S. government's collection of personal information via phone records and the Internet, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. But that's nothing compared to the 70 percent who believe that the government 'uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism,' according to the organization's summary of its survey. Another 63 percent of respondents indicated they thought the government is collecting information about the content of their communications. The Pew Research Center surveyed 1,480 adults over the course of five days in July. 'The public's views of the government's anti-terrorism efforts are complex, and many who believe the reach of the government's data collection program is expansive still approve of the effort overall,' the organization's summary added. 'In every case, however, those who view the government's data collection as far-reaching are less likely to approve of the program than those who do not.' Some 47 percent of those surveyed approved of the government's collection of phone and Internet data, while 50 percent disapproved. Among those who thought the government is reading their personal email or listening to their phone calls, some 40 percent approved of the data collection, even as 58 percent disapproved. There's much more, including how opinions of government surveillance break across political party lines on the Pew Research Center's Website."
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Most Americans Think Courts Are Failing To Limit Government Surveillance

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  • by PortHaven (242123) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:08PM (#44413117) Homepage

    Iz me.....Nazi-katz,

    • pew pew! institute
    • by PortHaven (242123) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:17PM (#44413245) Homepage

      Yes, there are times Godwin's law should be applied. And when your government is reading your mail (email, phone calls, social media). and monitoring your travel (street camers, license plate scanners on police cruisers), and your police are being militarized.

      Exhibit 1: Listening to your communication
      http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/354590/greenwald-nsa-has-trillions-e-mails-and-phone-calls-betsy-woodruff [nationalreview.com]

      Exhibit 2: Monitoring your travel
      http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/07/28/18740565.php [indybay.org]

      Exhibit 3: Militarization of police
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/bradlockwood/2011/11/30/the-militarizing-of-local-police/ [forbes.com]
      http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/4203345 [popularmechanics.com]

      ***

      Essentially, the only reason most American's do not realize they are living in a police state is because most American's are decent folk and indoctrinated to submit to authority. As such, very few American's ever conflict with the state on a level to feel the police state.

      The deranged genocide of millions is NOT a requirement for a police state. While Hitler and Stalin killed millions, much of the Soviet Republics police state history was not under the auspices of genocide. A police state, by necessity does not need to be a deranged murderous state, in order to be a police state.

      So yes, with all of that happening. I think we've reached high time to be justified in enacting Godwin's Law.

      • Spot On (Score:5, Insightful)

        by deanklear (2529024) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:28PM (#44413389)

        I recently wrote a long post about the subject:

        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4016327&cid=44388965 [slashdot.org]

        As a nation, we need to come to terms with what our country has become.

        After re-reading it, I would only change a few things: our goon squad isn't the most oppressive by any stretch, but it is the most well-armed. And while I believe that America is in reality a fascist totalitarian state, it's important to remember that there is no central plan that makes it so. It is the combined effect of corruption, institutional failures, and political apathy that make it effectively a fascist totalitarian state.

        That's good, because it's less easy for any one individual to take over the entire system. But it's also bad because it can hide in plain sight.

        • Re:Spot On (Score:5, Insightful)

          by interval1066 (668936) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:55PM (#44413805) Homepage Journal
          I came to fully realize this is now a police state when they started using the word "Homeland"... last time terms like that were used to describe one's own country was the Nazi "Fatherland"...
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Not entirely true, translated KGB means "Committee for State Security". They often referred fondly to "Mother Russia".

            Basically we've become everything we decried them of being in the 80's.

          • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:54PM (#44415401)

            When I was raised we called America, "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave." Calling ourselves something that echoed "Fatherland," or "Motherland" would have met revulsion. Those were appellations for Nazis and Communists. We despised the KGM, Stasi, and SS for their total surveillance. Being stopped to show your papers on a public road was THE test for whether you lived in a totalitarian state. Now we have the NSA violating the highest law of our land at will, and the TSA making random stops on our highways demanding drivers submit to searches and checks of their papers. Americans are still quite heavily armed for a civlian population, and we still do have means to information that circumvent government and official media. We will see if Americans still have enough moxy, enough self-awareness as a free people to rise up and re-assert their freedom, or if they will submit to tyranny and take the whole world down with them. But either way, it will not happen without a great deal of blood.

            • "That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fi
          • by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:59PM (#44415475)
            The proof of the overreach is that the *Foreign* Intelligence Surveillance Court (and Act) is used to approve *Domestic* surveillance. That is so totally obviously not what its intended purpose was, that the whole thing is rather quite hillarious to foreigners.
          • by richlv (778496)

            actually, most countries that were not formed by immigrants have a term like that. the usage might be higher or lower, but it's there.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Synerg1y (2169962)

          So... what will you do when that one individual without political apathy comes along that abuses their power to tie it all in together through bribery, murder, and corruption?

          The whole point of our system is to provide checks and balances to stop such an individual however what we're seeing more and more of is that rubber band has lost its elasticity.

          I think its time to hit the ballots and ask ourselves what do we really want, what have we done against terrorism these past 300 years that's worked, that for

          • by PortHaven (242123) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:50PM (#44414499) Homepage

            In 2008/2012, there were close to 40 candidates initially running President.

            I live in Pennsylvania, by the time the primaries arrived Pennsylvanians had a choice of voting for:

            2008 - Clinton/Obama on the Democrat ticket, or McCain on the Republican ticket - where were the other dozens of choices?

            2012 - Obama on the Democrat ticket, or Romney on the Republican ticket - where were the other dozens of choices?

            ***
            My point, we only THINK we had an election. What we were given was a choice to vote for one of two candidates selected by the American politburo. These party laws, ballot laws, 2,000 signatures for a Democrat or Republican to be on a ballot, 20,000 for a 3rd party.

            They're designed to allow us to feel like we have an influence via our vote. But they hide the illusion of reality, that we're living in a dream world NEO. We don't have a vote.

            --

            Heck, Ron Paul followers elected (legally) numerous convention "delegates". But then the Republican party refused to give them entrance credentials, even though they had legally been elected.

            This is the mask that hides the truth.

            • by Synerg1y (2169962)

              You forgot the best part: The electoral college: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States) [wikipedia.org] . It's a road map for where to make your bribes go the furthest for those running for office who can't figure it out.

            • by stenvar (2789879) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:13PM (#44414869)

              Yes, it's not pretty, but parties and politicians are moving in response to popular will. The GOP has shifted significantly on gay marriage over the last few years, and the fact that Chris Christie is worried about the "libertarian wing" of the Republican party suggests that there is movement there as well.

              In Europe, you have new parties popping up all the time whenever something seems to call for it; in the US, you have a slow drift of the two existing parties in response to popular will. In the US, political problems often take a decade or more to address at the federal level. And that used to be perfectly fine when much more was decided at the state and local level.

              I still think the best way of dealing with many of these issues is to return much more power from the federal government to the states. That won't solve NSA spying, of course, but maybe with less on their hands to do, federal legislators can actually start worrying again about those things they have been elected to worry about.

              • by k6mfw (1182893)

                politicians are moving in response to popular will. The GOP has shifted significantly on gay marriage over the last few years

                hollow victory if you ask me compared to many other issues i.e. economy, environment, standard of living, and continuing wars "war on terrorism" "war on drugs" and now "war on citizens" per NSA spying. Regarding wars, both Republican and Democratic parties fully cooperate on these issues. There might be a few outliers that speak out against these policies but the major players argue among each other for their interests and not for the citizens. Kind of like in Soviet Union days when there was only one party

          • Re:Spot On (Score:5, Insightful)

            by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:11PM (#44414837)

            Realize that if we allowed firearms on planes, 9/11 would've never happened, the patriot act would've never happened, hundreds of thousands of people wouldn't have died in the decade long wars to follow.

            Wrong. 9/11 happened because people believed from past experience that the best way to handle a plane hijacking is to let the hijacker fly the plane to Cuba and everyone will stay safe and get a flight back home afterwards. After 9/11, no one will ever allow a hijacker to fly the plane to wherever he wants anymore. The passengers will turn into a mob rather than passive hostages because they will believe they are about to die. It is not possible for terrorists to pull off another 9/11 style attack, guns or no (especially since they now lock the cockpit doors and won't open for anything).

        • Re:Spot On (Score:4, Informative)

          by jkflying (2190798) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:17PM (#44414115)

          Dunno about 'best armed' either. When I was in Mozambique, as we were driving out we got pulled over by a police truck because our front licence plate had been knocked off. In the back of the truck were 8 guys with AK-47s. And this wasn't some SWAT team or anything, just a truck patrolling the highway and enforcing traffic rules.

          Anyway, we bribed them ~$100 and they let us go. It was either that or have our vehicle impounded for the weekend.

          • by PortHaven (242123)

            Well, our police have APCs and M16's now. So I think we're better armed than Mozambique. We just don't flex our muscles as much.

            Furthermore, consider that in Mozambique, there are petty warlords, drug lords, cartels and tribal warfare. So the police are likely to be engaged by heavily armed criminals.

            That's not really the case in the U.S., so the disparity of force is orders of magnitude more excessive.

          • by Zemran (3101)

            $100 ? They must have thought that it was all their Christmases and birthdays rolled into one. I got stopped in Siam Reap, Cambodia, a little while back, for going the wrong way up a one way street at night without lights and the policeman was happy with $1. Even in Thailand I never give more than $6 and I get stopped a lot (very bad driver), once I went through a red light turning left into a one-way to go the wrong way and almost drove into the policeman coming out of the one-way and I gave him $3. Pe

          • Slightly OT, but I read a lot of motorcycling travel stories on advrider.com. While a lot of these trips seem incredible, the ONE reason I'd never attempt one is having to deal with foreign bureaucrats in small countries. I just don't have that ear-eye for when someone's asking for a handout. And, these guys get hit up by everyone from boarder checkpoint guards to local sheriffs. They seem to know when to give in and when to refuse. Knowing me, I'd either get arrested for offering a bribe or end up loc

        • by jbolden (176878)

          The United States is not totalitarian by any means. The government doesn't even attempt to exert control in enough areas to constitute totalitarianism.

          • by PortHaven (242123)

            Don't drink that soda, no oreos for you, stop donating food to the homeless, you will buy auto and health insurance,....

            ?????

            How many more !@#$% areas of control are necessary?

            ***

            Sure, I would never call us the worst totalitarian government. We are still mostly free to travel. But even then, you need your papers. Ever try driving a car without registration, without inspection, or without insurance?

          • Re:Spot On (Score:5, Interesting)

            by deanklear (2529024) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:47PM (#44415325)

            Do you have the right to privacy?

            Do you have the right to a fair trial?

            There were 50,000 police raids for the last year we have data. In the 1970s, there were 3,000. In the 1960s they didn't exist.

            About 10 minutes ago I was flagged SSSS for a "random" bag check, supposedly by the airline. Could I find out if in fact I was flagged by the US government, who then requested the Airline search me? No, that information is classified. For national security. In any case, my personal belongings were searched. They not only invaded the privacy of my things, but the privacy of my person by offering me the choice of a full body scan, or to be touched all over my body by a government agent. This is dignity only in a fascist system.

            I know the reason why I was flagged. Two years ago coming back from another international trip, after being away from home for four months, I took a picture of a sign that said, "Welcome to America" with two flags on it.

            By the time I had made it down to the escalator, I was asked by two armed men to follow them. Apparently I wasn't quite out of customs, and I had been "observed using an unauthorized device in a restricted area." They asked me why I took a picture of the American flag. I told them that I take pictures of a lot of things.

            Then a TSA agent interrogated me for 30 minutes. What were you doing in Costa Rica? Who were you with? Why were you there? I made the mistake of mentioning I had spent time time with people from Berlin. They wanted their names, but I refused. They scanned everything, and even asked if had hidden illicit substances or explosive devices in the jars organic chocolate spread -- it looked like Nutella. Two jars were taken for samples. The rest were X-Rayed and returned to me.

            They went through my phone. Thankfully they didn't get all the way to the end, where a prankster friend of mine had taken a picture of his junk at my birthday party. They then asked why I had lied about taking one picture -- the HDR feature was turned on. After five minutes of explanation and a demonstration, they finally accepted that answer, and then required me to delete "both" pictures of the sign with the American flag. The only other thing in the picture was the sheetrock behind it.

            "Are you serious?" I asked.

            "Absolutely," she replied.

            When you travel internationally, there are two customs areas if they do a lot of travel to the United States. One is for the invasive security theater that other citizens do not accept as legitimate. But, you and I, we have a special line. We have special, secret courts. Our government has secret laws, and secret information gathering, and not-so-secret meetings called "Terror Tuesdays" where our president is presented with biographical information of "suspected terrorists," and then he decides who to assassinate. Two of those individuals have been US Citizens. To protect Freedom, and Justice, and whatever nice words the Homeland Security office needs to convince us is more important than the basic human rights democratic citizens have had for hundreds of years.

            No trial. No attorney. Just 1,300 dead humans, who have all been classified as terrorists either by one man, or just after the moment they are dead for guilt by association.

            So, I'm about to hop a flight back to the United States. And I have already booked my flight to leave it again, for as long as possible. It is a prison to me. I lovingly call it San Quentin, since the guards and the wardens who run my life, tell me what I can and can't do with my own body, and ruin the lives of regular citizens for minor offenses that harm no one make me hate every inch and every second of my life when I am in America.

            I bought a steak and a margarita. When I get back, I will try to soothe my anxiety with technological trinkets, cat videos, coffee drinks, endless television, hard liquor, and anything else that can help me forget that any moment some officer of the government could break in to my private residence, without even knocking, and

          • by lgw (121541)

            Federal law regulates how much water I can use when I flush my toilet or take a shower - how much more intimate can they get?

            • Re:Spot On (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday July 29, 2013 @03:02PM (#44415513)

              ...how much more intimate can they get?

              Forced sonograms that neither the patient or doctor wants.

      • by sjbe (173966) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:49PM (#44413705)

        Essentially, the only reason most American's do not realize they are living in a police state is because most American's are decent folk and indoctrinated to submit to authority. As such, very few American's ever conflict with the state on a level to feel the police state.

        I'm guessing this is just a troll but I'll bite anyway. A blanket assertion that all americans are too dumb to realize what a police state is followed by the assertion that we are all a bunch of sheep who are too docile to do anything about it? Not sure this person has met a lot of americans if they really think that and I'm quite sure this person has NO idea what life in an actual police state is like. I have friends who have actually live in genuine, certified police states and I've spoken to some of them at length about it. Whatever problems we have here in the US, there is NO valid comparison to be made. I do not live in fear of going to jail for off hand criticisms of our elected leaders. I do not fear that those currently in power will not leave office peacefully if they lose elections. I do not fear for a military coup. I do not think our courts as an institution are toothless or corrupt. The US has its problems but being a police state isn't one of them.

        We actually understand what is going on, know our government is misbehaving and many of us are working actively to bring it back into line. This isn't our first rodeo with a government that has stepped out of line. That's what governments naturally try to do and correcting that tendency often takes time. You don't have to get out the ammo box to solve every problem. Usually the soap, ballot and jury boxes are quite sufficient.

        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          by Hatta (162192)

          I do not live in fear of going to jail for off hand criticisms of our elected leaders

          That's because authority in the US is so powerfully entrenched that no amount of satire can hope to damage it. If someone makes fun of the party in power, what are people going to do? Vote for the other party?

          I do not fear that those currently in power will not leave office peacefully if they lose elections.

          Those truly in power in the US are not elected. Whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office, the true power is h

        • by Hatta (162192) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:20PM (#44414153) Journal

          I do not live in fear of going to jail for off hand criticisms of our elected leaders

          That's because authority in the US is so powerfully entrenched that no amount of satire can hope to damage it. If someone makes fun of the party in power, what are people going to do? Vote for the other party?

          I do not fear that those currently in power will not leave office peacefully if they lose elections.

          Those truly in power in the US are not elected. Whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office, the true power is held by the ultra rich. No party that threatens the rich can ever attain power in the US.

          I do not fear for a military coup.

          Of course not. Why would the military overthrow a government that is completely controlled by the military industrial complex?

          I do not think our courts as an institution are toothless or corrupt

          Then why does every amendment except the third have exemptions you can drive a dump truck through? If you don't think courts as an institution are toothless or corrupt, you're simply not paying attention.

          • by jbolden (176878)

            . If someone makes fun of the party in power, what are people going to do? Vote for the other party?

            Yes. Or even change the focus of the party via. primaries. Like or hate the Tea Party movement they showed a good example of 1/6th of the American people getting fed up and changing the structure of a political party on multiple issues.

            Those truly in power in the US are not elected. Whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office, the true power is held by the ultra rich. No party that threatens the rich

            • by Hatta (162192) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:11PM (#44414833) Journal

              Like or hate the Tea Party movement they showed a good example of 1/6th of the American people getting fed up and changing the structure of a political party on multiple issues.

              No, they showed a good example of an astroturfed movement that tricked people into giving the ultra-rich even more wealth and power than they had before.

              Ultra rich people get attacked by the United States all the time. Ask Bill Gates about his relationship with the Clinton administration

              Before the trial, Microsoft gave no donations to politicians. Today they give millions of dollars. Despite being found guilty, Microsoft suffered no practical consequences. What happened to Microsoft was punishment for them not paying their dues for the service the US government provides to rich corporations.

              And if you mean that no party that threatens the structure of wealth distribution could attain power, such a thing happened under FDR.

              Most of what I'm talking about has been going on for 30-40 years. Starting with Nixon and really ramping up with Reagan. FDR was almost 70 years ago, a whole other world.

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            Those truly in power in the US are not elected. Whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office, the true power is held by the ultra rich. No party that threatens the rich can ever attain power in the US.

            The "ultra rich" wield a lot more power and influence than your average Joe, but they don't hold "the true power" either; there are simply too many of them with too many conflicting ideologies and wishes. Even the "ultra rich" are a broad mix of liberals, conservatives, Christians, and libertarians, and mos

            • by Hatta (162192)

              If the party in power screws up, vote for the other party. And do that until the other party cleans up its act. That's how our democracy works

              That's how our democracy fails to work. Vote for one party, so they can fuck the country up until people can't stand them anymore. Then vote for the other party, so they can fuck the country up even more. By the time you tire of one party, you've forgotten how bad the other party is. To make matters worse, they deliberately distract us with bike-shed debates over

              • by PortHaven (242123)

                And what do you do, when both parties are in cohoots and screwing together?

        • by meta-monkey (321000) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:44PM (#44414425) Journal

          To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.

          In 2005, go march with a sign that says "Bush is a nazi monkey." You're fine.

          In 2009, go march with a sign that says "Obama is a secret Muslim socialist." You're fine.

          In 2011, go march in front of the banks, and you're in jail.

          There's a reason you're not afraid politicians will refuse to leave office. Why would they be?

        • by PortHaven (242123) on Monday July 29, 2013 @02:03PM (#44414711) Homepage

          "most Americans", I didn't say all...

          There is in fact a growing number who are coming to similar conclusions. That something is seriously wrong with the path America is on, and the behaviors of our government.

          But even still, a great many in America feel "Well if I'm not doing anything wrong, what do I have to worry about?"

          But

          ***

          I have friends and relatives who have lived as well. And you know what most of them say, America is far better than Russia, and other states. And no, we're no N. Korea for sure.

          But those who live through, exclaim they're seeing it again. Those who have left, exclaim that we're starting to do many of the same things.

          "We actually understand what is going on, know our government is misbehaving and many of us are working actively to bring it back into line."

          Yes, I and you, and probably 20% of Americans fall into this category. And hopefully it will continue to grow.

          ***

          But what are you arguments for the fact that we're NOT living in a police state? versus that we're just subservient to said state?

          One also has to remember that a just because something isn't to the fullest extreme, does not negate it from being what it is.

          A Big Mac may not be as unhealthy as a giant Fat Burger. But it's still unhealthy.

          We may not be a police state on par with Russia, N. Korea, etc. But how does one argue we are not a police state when we are under 100% monitoring, our police have the authority act, detain, seize property on a whim.

          ???

      • by Dagger2 (1177377)

        Normally I would just sigh and move on when I see this, but you wrote "American's" three times in a single paragraph so I felt it warranted saying something.

        It's "Americans". This word, like pretty much everything else in English, pluralizes without an apostrophe.

        • by PortHaven (242123)

          You are absolute correct....

          And I know that. Why I typed it with a possessive, even I am not sure. I think fingers just add it in out of habit.

          Thank you.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        most American's are decent folk and indoctrinated to submit to authority

        Did you mean to say "most Americans are not decent folk, and indoctrinated to submit to authority"? Decent folk pay attention and resist when authority is unjust. Unthinking submission to authority is not just indecent, it's the cause of every atrocity in history.

        • by PortHaven (242123)

          Let me clarify, most Americans in their day to day dealings do not do anything that would stir up authorities. In other words, we are not (generally) criminals. Most of us abide by moderate levels of regulations.

          That said, we are also indoctrinated from K-12 to sit at a desk and do as we're told. Is it really any surprise that as adults, most Americans sit at a desk and do as they're told?

      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:06PM (#44413957) Journal

        One only need to look at the City of Boston to see the full force of the Militarized Police State. One man, wounded and half dead, and the whole town goes Apeshit poo flinging crazy. Martial Law.

        Or how about a few months before, when Big Bear Lake was also under Martial Law, for a lone gun man on the run.

        If I were a terrorist, I would be planning on small time bomb and gun scare and go into "hide and seek" mode to shut down a town. A few buddies more and we could shut down every major metropolis in the USA. Wouldn't take more than a dozen or two to scare everyone and allow for the USA to go into full lockdown.

        It will be the new 9/11. And good luck stopping 20 independent coordinated people from pulling this off. Pick off one, and nothing changes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Hatta (162192)

          One only need to look at the City of Boston to see the full force of the Militarized Police State. One man, wounded and half dead, and the whole town goes Apeshit poo flinging crazy. Martial Law.

          Indeed. And compare the situation in West, Texas the very same week, where corporate greed lead directly to the deaths of 15 people and no one responsible has been arrested. That's how you can tell that the law has nothing to do with keeping people safe, and everything to do with keeping the rich rich.

        • One only need to look at the City of Boston to see the full force of the Militarized Police State. One man, wounded and half dead, and the whole town goes Apeshit poo flinging crazy. Martial Law.

          Actually, that shows that they've calmed down quite a bit since 2007 [wikipedia.org] when they locked down the city over freaking lite-brite [youtube.com] toys used to advertise a movie. Instead of Boston recognizing that they wildly overreacted, Turner Broadcasting ended up publicly apologizing and paying 2 million dollars to the city.

        • by Nyder (754090)

          One only need to look at the City of Boston to see the full force of the Militarized Police State. One man, wounded and half dead, and the whole town goes Apeshit poo flinging crazy. Martial Law.

          Or how about a few months before, when Big Bear Lake was also under Martial Law, for a lone gun man on the run.

          If I were a terrorist, I would be planning on small time bomb and gun scare and go into "hide and seek" mode to shut down a town. A few buddies more and we could shut down every major metropolis in the USA. Wouldn't take more than a dozen or two to scare everyone and allow for the USA to go into full lockdown.

          It will be the new 9/11. And good luck stopping 20 independent coordinated people from pulling this off. Pick off one, and nothing changes.

          They couldn't stop 2 men with 2 bombs in Boston when they've been spying on us for 10 years at least up to that point. My opinion? They can't stop terrorism this way, but will create more incidences.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:49PM (#44414491)

        Essentially, the only reason most American's do not realize they are living in a police state is

        The implication of your statement here is that if they did know, they'd do something about it. What, exactly, makes you think that Americans are somehow different types of human than anywhere else or at any other time in history? Hitler was seen kissing babies. He was hugely popular amongst the people. They may have had some idea of what he was doing, but they didn't care because he gave them exactly what they wanted: A powerful country, a powerful military, and a productive economy.

        You think Americans care so much about liberty they're willing to act against those things? Fascism became popular with the people precisely because it had something to offer. And in the case of WWII it was only defeated because most of the rest of the world rose up and said "This far, no farther."

        I have not seen any other countries standing up to America. I haven't seen its allies abandon them. And the public overwhelmingly still supports nationalism. The mind intent on false appearances refuses to admit better things. Don't assume that a better understanding of the world will necessarily lead to change... it's one of mankind's oldest illusions. If we've truly reached the epoch many think we have, then this only ends one of two ways now: Civil uprising, a world war, or a coup de etat. History hasn't given any indication there's a fourth option... such as the population suddenly reaching simultanious enlightenment of their predicament and backing away from violence.

        • by PortHaven (242123)

          Damn you girlintraining,

          Yes, yes, I fear gravely that you are right. "Ordinary Men", everyone should read the book. Remember, the Nazi's were not monstrous aliens. They were ordinary men who did extraordinarily heinous deeds.

          And yes, I fear that many will be content so long as their general well being is not infringed.

          ***

          Scariest question, if I could murder 5% of America but bring in a PAX prosperity, where the economy was spectacular. $150,000 salaries, no inflation, on 32 hour work weeks.

          How many Ameri

          • by PortHaven (242123)

            And just for those who think they'd never support that. What if it merely meant killing 15 million right-wing evangelicals who many on Slashdot would exclaim are the world's problem. How many would accept that for a PAX prosperity?

            How many had a second thought of, yes, we should get rid of them, but then hesitated because of the thought of killing. Realize, you'd probably only need a good convincing. Maybe a few bad deeds on their part and a few good speeches by a charismatic leader.

            We are sadly fragile in

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:11PM (#44413149)

    But the behind the scenes NSA checks delayed my posting

  • Context (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We are talking about the largest, most expensive, most powerful government AND world empire (with military bases in some 150 countries) that has ever existed. Of course there is no meaningful "oversight" -- they wouldn't have succeeded (in creating the most lucrative business in world history) if there was.

  • Courts==Govts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aglider (2435074) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:14PM (#44413187) Homepage
    Courts apply laws written by governments. In the best case.
    In the worst case, courts are directly managed by governments.
    So, you really think that a government would give its powers up in favor of the people?
    I don't think so.
    • Courts apply laws written by governments. In the best case. In the worst case, courts are directly managed by governments. So, you really think that a government would give its powers up in favor of the people? I don't think so.

      Why not, every time a politicians knees hit the floor, they have turned over the keys to the palace to corporations.

    • I'd also like to point out, that by law, courts are directly involved in this NSA stuff, the courts in question are the FISA Courts [wikipedia.org]. If you want to fix the court problems, you've got to fix the legislation that allows them to be broken.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Or stop packing the courts with conservatives that don't care about the constitution or rule of law. The 2000 Presidential election should have been a wake up call that some of the justices have no interest in doing their job properly. Overturning an entire election on questionable grounds and requesting that the ruling not be used as precedence in the future.

        That last bit ought to be evidence enough that it wasn't a constitutional ruling.

        • To be fair, O'Conner acknowledged after the fact that even hearing the case was a constitutional mistake, and a mistake she made, along with the conservative justices.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          They didn't overturn an election they upheld an election. The State of Florida wanted to allocate its electors to George Bush. The courts of Florida wanted to use a variety of systems outside the law to determine who should have won those electors. The Supreme Court ruled the courts of Florida had no right to make up law because they didn't like elections law.

    • And there are already laws in place the prevent most of what the NSA is doing.
      We do not need new laws, just actual accountability to existing laws.

  • Headdesk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:14PM (#44413195)

    Most americans are also unaware of the responsibilities of each branch of government. Having no apparent power over the officials in the two branches of government where people are elected, they've resorted to asking the one branch of government that isn't for help. Ironic, don't you think, that in a "free and democratic" society, the voting process is held in such low esteem that people have abandoned all hope in it being able to stop the government? Except it isn't ironic. It's depressing. So, where are the Europeans and the UN when you need them? One of the largest countries on Earth is going off the rails in a big way and sooner or later, this train wreck will visit you as well. All our economies are interconnected, as are our societies now thanks to the internet.

    Or, perhaps, your silence just confirms what we already knew but didn't want to believe: The United States is becoming just like every other country out there... a paper democracy, but the real power is held by the royalty. And maybe you're glad that this irritating individualist society with a large middle class and plenty of opportunity for everyone to advance is coming to an end... because it was so very embarassing. But who knows, or cares, really, what they're thinking...

    People have lost hope in democracy. So what do we place our hope for the future in now?

    • Re:Headdesk (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:16PM (#44413219)

      So what do we place our hope for the future in now?

      Obi-Wan Kenobi. He's our only hope.

      • I would pin my hopes on the wisdom of someone who once said:

        Meesa think a weesa should give the chancellor emergency powers.
      • Obi-Wan Kenobi. He's our only hope.

        ... but we all know what happened with the last person with force powers we elected to office. How do we know Obi-Wan will be any different? I mean, he didn't even see his friend was a murderer of children, and a genocidal maniac obsessed with drones who dragged the empire through several wars, the last of which was a war on terror against some rebellious 'Truthers'.

    • The only thing more ironing is that they are asking the branch that ordered the surveillance to begin with to stop the surveillance. What part of "we obtained a court order" do you NOT understand?

      As for democracy- the United States, as they keep telling me, is a Republic. Any appearance of democracy is just window dressing on the real system where every candidate is bought and paid for long before you vote.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spacepimp (664856)
      "People have lost hope in democracy. So what do we place our hope for the future in now?" We were not ever a democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic. At least you could bother to fact check. It isn't voting that is the issue, it is the lak of accountability. Obama was elected on the premise of transparency, ending the surveillance state and reigning in the Patriot Act, and pulling out of undeclared wars around the world. He abandoned those promises. The courts interpret the laws, and also plays a major
      • We were not ever a democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic. At least you could bother to fact check.

        People who fuss over the right choice of words and ignore the deeper questions usually just like to hear themselves talk. This isn't about "fact checking", the facts are in TFA; And voting is very much the issue here... because look at your options:

        Lawyer, Lawyer, Lawyer, Businessman, Lawyer, Lawyer...

        Where's the scientists? The engineers? Where's the rest of life? So don't sit there and get preachy to me about "fact checking"; Everyone who's out of school and has a real job knows that our elections aren't

        • Where's the scientists? The engineers?

          At the NSA.

    • by evilRhino (638506)
      In the US we have a system called checks and balances. For this specific example, the legislature has failed by passing the Patriot Act and the executive has failed by launching the surveillance program. It is up to the courts to declare these acts unconstitutional. Each branch has their own part in each aspect of the government, if only to be a watch dog.
  • by jigawatt (1232228) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:19PM (#44413269)
    .. said the head of the NSA, TSA, and IRS. "After all, Trayvon could have been me."
  • A nation of little fascists...and... E pluribus unum...magnus

  • that even vaguely limits them, and that they are as likely to pay attention to the rule of law or any principals other than self-interest as they are to grow halos. The only bright spot in this scenario is that they will be fighting the CIA and Homeland Security to become the next KGB, and produce our next home grown Putin.

    Cheers everyone, to the logical conclusion of the government Americans started voting for with Reagan.

  • The NSA knows who they surveyed and they will be addressing comments individually!
  • Survey text... (Score:5, Informative)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal.gmail@com> on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:36PM (#44413545) Homepage Journal

    Here's the text of the 'survey' questions and results from TFA...it is instructive on many levels:

    'Do courts provide adequate limits on what is collected?'
    Yes=30% No=56% don't know=15%

    'Is the government using this data ...'
    'Only for anti-terro'r=22% 'Also for other purposes'=70% don't know=7%

    'Is the government collecting ... '
    'Only metadata'=18% 'Also content of phone calls and email'=63% don't know=18%

    the 63% from above question were asked asked 'Have YOUR calls or emails been listened to or read?'
    Yes=27% No=28% don't know 8%

    'Overall view of the program'
    Approve=50% Disapprove=44% don't know=6%

    Pew Research Center July 17-21, 2013 Figures may not add to 100% because of rounding.

    It is an astoundingly awful survey.

    Just look at how they question what survey respondents thing the government is doing with the data being collected. There are two options:

    1. 'Only for anti-terror' and 2. 'Also other purposes'

    It is obviously worded with bias. If the respondent thinks that the government does **anything** other than one very specific thing they will have to chose #2...that's not a logical breakdown of a binary choice and it implicitly acknowledges that there are other than a binary option in the text of the question (use of the plural for 'purposes'...).

    I'd wager 90% of the surveys reported on the news are of this level of scientific rigor...

    • by jkflying (2190798)

      Well, the system was put into place to specifically deal with terrorist activities, so if it isn't being used for that, surely all those other uses should be lumped together into "other"?

    • Re:Survey text... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by houghi (78078) on Monday July 29, 2013 @01:33PM (#44414289)

      What is worse is that even with such a biased questioning, 50% of the people approve. That means that people know their email is read. They know the data is used for other things. Thus they know the government is lying to their face. Yet they still agree.

      If it were a fair questioning, that number might have been even higher.

      I normally never blame the rape victim, but it is hard to defend the victim if (s)he bends over willingly and asks for more with a smile.

    • I'd wager 90% of the surveys reported on the news are of this level of scientific rigor...

      You talk about scientific rigor and then go on to pull a number out of your ass. Hipsters everywhere wish they could approach your level of irony.

    • The government's stated position is that the data is used "only for anti-terror". The question isn't "what is the data being used for?" the question is "do you trust your government's stated position?". 63% of respondents think that the government is flat out lying to their faces on the issue.

  • by intermodal (534361) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:37PM (#44413563) Homepage Journal

    The nation's founders were always skeptical of giving this much power and authority to a central government. Unfortunately, for a very long time, the people trusted the government more than any government should be trusted. To maintain a free society, it's imperative that the people always be wary of increases in the scope, size, and permanence of any and all government programs. And when there is too much government to keep track of, it's far too big for that to be possible.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday July 29, 2013 @12:38PM (#44413581)
    Looks like public pressure is going to end overreaching US gov spy programs before a Supreme Court challenge much the same way mccarthysm was ended by public pressure.
    • by PPH (736903)

      McCarthyism ended when Joe went after members of the US Army. The general population doesn't have the clout to pressure the NSA into doing anything. But if they (the NSA) end up sniffing around in the private business of legislators, the FBI other gov't officials, that will end them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They are doing exactly as they are told.

    70% of americans are failing to understand that what they see in movies is not real.

  • by quenda (644621)

    Most Americans believe that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, the moon landings were faked, aliens are visiting the earth, Saddam had WMDs, and professional baseball is exciting.
        What is the relevance of these survey results to real politics?

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