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Most Americans Think Courts Are Failing To Limit Government Surveillance

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the always-watching dept.

United States 281

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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Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (5, Funny)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#44413117)

Iz me.....Nazi-katz,

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (1)

slartibartfastatp (613727) | about a year ago | (#44413189)

pew pew! institute

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (5, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#44413245)

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 (5, Insightful)

deanklear (2529024) | about a year ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#44413805)

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:Spot On (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414369)

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.

Re:Spot On (1, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#44414031)

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 some reason doesn't work now (how about not messing with the governments of other nations for fun on taxpayer money). We've created so many laws that doing just about anything is illegal. We've given too much power to authority that they act like assholes and get away with it with a smile. 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. So ask yourself, who are we really protecting here through all these government programs.

How is hitting the ballots effective? (5, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#44414499)

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.

Re:Spot On (3, Informative)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Spot On (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#44414533)

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.

Re:Spot On (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44414333)

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

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413557)

....decent folk and indoctrinated to submit to authority.....

A police state, by necessity does not need to be a deranged murderous state, in order to be a police state.

When you trust authority, that shit happens. (The American people)

When you are punished for questioning authority, that shit happens. (School children under guard by police).

Frankly, if I wasn't so old, I'd be tempted to take over the US. It would be hard. There's a wonderful propaganda infrastructure already built by the for profit incompetent media.

There's a wonderful do or die ideology created by the Evangelical Christians - be pro-life, pro-marriage, anti-tax, anti-immigration ... and I got those people

The "Liberals" are too wishy washy to work with ... and too wishy washy to oppose me.

I mean, it wouldn't be too hard.

-Yours,

A Despot Wanna-be.

"I promise to only exterminate the people who really deserve it."

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413577)

"...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"

Complete and utter bullshit.

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (5, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#44413903)

Complete and utter bullshit.

I don't think so. I think back to my Grandmother, in every way a decent, and somewhat naive, middle American woman. If she were alive today and we were walking around and noticed something legally amiss outside in the world, or just needed "something" that authority could provide, she'd have said "Go ask a policeman" without hesitation, whereas running to a cop is not something I'd do nessessarily, depending on the circumstances. Her attitude is clearly a product of being brought up in a time (especially around WWII) when authority wasn't nessessarily and in all cases a malevelent thing.

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414319)

That was also a time when police had far less authority than they do now - as you state yourself, you wouldnt do such a thing nowadays, and neither would a great many people, hence supporting my view that no, we are not indoctrinated to submit to authority. The more authority the police have, the less people trust and respect them - the less people trust and respect them, the more authority police ask for (people willingly cooperate less and so more authority is needed to make them).

When people say "never argue with a cop" its not out of respect for the police - its out of distrust of the police.

As for your Grandma anecdote - this will sound anti-female (its not) but women in general are far more likely to espouse a view of "just follow the rules, dont make waves" - especially women with children.

Trolling all americans (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#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:Trolling all americans (1, Redundant)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44414113)

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.

Re:Trolling all americans (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44414153)

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.

Re:Trolling all americans (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44414375)

. 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 can ever attain power in the US.

Ultra rich people get attacked by the United States all the time. Ask Bill Gates about his relationship with the Clinton administration. And if you mean that no party that threatens the structure of wealth distribution could attain power, such a thing happened under FDR.

Re:Trolling all americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414217)

I'd agree with you, but you're wrong. Just because the "police-state" bit isn't in the open, and openly spoken about by our leaders, doesn't mean that they're not taking measures to do so, weather knowingly or unknowingly. The very fact that there are secret programs that are supported by secret courts, following secret laws, means that the police state is here, but in a secret way. I link this to the same process when building a hog pin in the wild. You don't build it all in one go, you build pieces of it, and let the hogs become used to it, until suddenly the last piece is added, and that last piece is the gate that seals the hogs in.

You list examples of how the people regulate the government with, "...the soap, ballot and jury boxes...". Can you please give us all just one fucking example of a time when our government stepped out of line and we (the people) used the methods mentioned by you to, as you say, "bring it back into line"? The mentality of the people that are in positions of power in the US, lead me to believe that they are operating without fear, and that just wouldn't happen if there were these things that the people could do against them. Again, I wait to be corrected.

Re:Trolling all americans (3, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44414425)

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?

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (2)

Dagger2 (1177377) | about a year ago | (#44413839)

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.

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44413905)

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.

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (3, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#44413957)

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:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (2, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44414239)

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.

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44414395)

The people of West Texas vote for pro corporate government. The people of Boston don't vote for pro terrorist government. Elections matter.

Re:Hai Amerikanz, I can haz pazwords... (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#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.

Glorious Leader Obummer!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413131)

But Glorious Leader Obummer is doing this for our safety. Stop being a bunch of terrorist-sympathizing weenies. Not all of us want to face being blown up while flying.

Re:Glorious Leader Obummer!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414571)

Like it really matters which wing if the republicrat system you guys choose (or has picked for you).

From the outside the differences sure look miniscule, and the fact that you [generic you] perceive them to be so big appears to be a big part of the problem.
Something along the lines of having issues with spotting the forest for all the trees... and 'divide and conquer'...

Would've been Frist Post! (5, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#44413149)

But the behind the scenes NSA checks delayed my posting

Re:Would've been Frist Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413597)

How'd that first guy bypass the NSA?

Re:Would've been Frist Post! (4, Funny)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#44413741)

he is the nsa

Re:Would've been Frist Post! (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44414467)

Now we know the REAL reason they're plugged into the backbone.

My god...the NSA is the GNAA! It all makes sense now....

Unfortunately, this isn't a good sign (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413161)

Because if you asked how many of them thought there were secret FEMA camps, plans for a race war, or other such coercive actions, you'd come up with a significant portion of the numbers.

I still know people who think Obama is waiting for the right moment to seize power, they were truly convinced the Zimmerman verdict would be the impetus for riots.

Re:Unfortunately, this isn't a good sign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413355)

Because if you asked how many of them thought there were secret FEMA camps, plans for a race war, or other such coercive actions, you'd come up with a significant portion of the numbers.

I still know people who think Obama is waiting for the right moment to seize power, they were truly convinced the Zimmerman verdict would be the impetus for riots.

Just two months ago people would have lumped 'NSA spying on everybody' in with your list.

Re:Unfortunately, this isn't a good sign (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413595)

I would have too, except I knew that they were already doing it under Bush, so I didn't expect Obama to change that.

Context (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413165)

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 (3, Interesting)

aglider (2435074) | about a year ago | (#44413187)

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.

Re:Courts==Govts (3)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about a year ago | (#44413221)

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.

Re:Courts==Govts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414317)

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.

But Corporations are GOOD! The Benevolent Free Market will protect us!

Re:Courts==Govts (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44413341)

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.

Re:Courts==Govts (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44413631)

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.

Re:Courts==Govts (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44413749)

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.

Re:Courts==Govts (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about a year ago | (#44414033)

Try finding a judge that hasn't been owned by privatized prison industry. Trying to fix the system whilst retaining corporate money is a circlejerk.

Re:Courts==Govts (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44414417)

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.

Re:Courts==Govts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413359)

I don't defend any of this stuff that's been going on. I believe in the 4th Amendment and the other things that we're supposed to be able to use to stop abuse.
But I do not yet belong to the "70 percent who believe that the government 'uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism'".
I'm sure many of you do. What are the common assumptions out there? What do my fellow Slashdotters believe the data is being used for?

Re:Courts==Govts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413493)

Political opponents.

Re:Courts==Govts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414359)

Anything "they" want. "They" being defined as "anyone that could potentially have access to the data, or to someone that has the data". I believe that "they" can be pretty much anyone in the US as long as they have ties to enough money (ie, the minimum wage schmuck that's working for the billionaire)

Re:Courts==Govts (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44414441)

I think the data is being used for other intelligence operations directed at semi-friendly to semi-hostile governments. Also businesses with weak ties to the USA that are powerful.

Re:Courts==Govts (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#44413555)

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.

Re:Courts==Govts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413745)

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?

Let's see. Who elects the government? Or did you forget that there are public elections in the US?

Re:Courts==Govts (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about a year ago | (#44414149)

You are woefully ignorant [ted.com] if you think the public elects the government in the US.

Headdesk (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#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 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413219)

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

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

Re:Headdesk (1)

Anonym0us Cow Herd (231084) | about a year ago | (#44413835)

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

Meesa think a weesa should give the chancellor emergency powers.

Re:Headdesk (1)

bmk67 (971394) | about a year ago | (#44414097)

/meesa kills self.

Re:Headdesk (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44414241)

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'.

Re:Headdesk (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year ago | (#44413235)

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:Headdesk (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year ago | (#44413297)

Ironing? I meant Ironic, though I think both fit.

Re:Headdesk (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44413475)

The idea that a true democracy would improve the situation is terrifying. Aren't we actually *glad* that we don't have slaves anymore and that gay people are on their way to being treated like -- you know -- citizens? You're not going to get that with true actual mob-rule. You barely have that, even with our republic.

And you are completely right - anyone can promise whatever the fuck they want, but they're still going to violate and infringe on individuals and principles at their whim. The complacency of the population and media and most politicians even immediately following the revelations of the past two months ago pretty much seems to be a confirmation that they should carry on as they've always carried on.

Re:Headdesk (2, Insightful)

spacepimp (664856) | about a year ago | (#44413365)

"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 factor in the Constitutionality of them. They are critical in keeping the laws on record in accordance with the Constitution. Failing that, they are as guilty and accountable as the Executive branch and the Congress that allow this sort of bullshit to continue into law.

Re:Headdesk (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44414001)

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 about choosing the right person for the job, but choosing between the lesser of two evils. And that's why people have lost faith.

The rest of your post is off-topic. This isn't about any of that smoke you are trying to blow up everyone's asses while trying to look smart... it's about a loss of faith. That is it. That is all. That is the only thing under discussion.

Re:Headdesk (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44414527)

Where's the scientists? The engineers?

At the NSA.

Re:Headdesk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414551)

He's wrong anyway. The U.S. began as a constitutional republic, but is now much closer to a democracy.

Re:Headdesk (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44413383)

Not only do people not understand the three branches of government (were they just missing that week in civics class?), but when any of the branches do their job (especially judicial), they bitch and moan about it. "Activist judges, durp durp". So you end up with mandatory sentences applied without any intelligence applied to context and circumstances. You end up with people equating any actions upholding the rights of the individual with "judges trying to dictate".

Worse, we haven't had (in practice) three branches of government for quite a few years, now. Judicial and Legislative on both sides have decided to be little more than yes-men nodding their heads to the whims of the executive branch (for the last four terms, at least).

It's refreshing, when we occasionally see the SCOTUS, for example, reiterating the obvious freedoms of people. Unfortunately, people have recently finally started to see beyond all of this, to realize that it's all just a play put on for them and that there is an additional layer beyond and above all this. The black projects, the off-the-books budgets, and the organizations and activities that exist and will continue to exist, no matter what any branch of government says and regardless of what promises they spew to the public.

I hate to sound fatalistic, but I don't see how any of us can expect anything to change or improve. It was bad enough when people understood how difficult it was to forum the three branches (full of selfish and corrupt individuals) into doing something worthwhile and not acting against the people. When they understood that you somehow, as collective citizens, had to hold people accountable to make anything change or improve. Now that everyone sees that there is a layer of government entirely out of the reach of anyone who can be held accountable by the public even those they elect . . . why even carry on with the charade? We might as well change our stated form of government and give up any pretense of purported rights and principles.

On the other hand, I'll be dead in a few decades (at best), so who gives a shit.

Re:Headdesk (2)

evilRhino (638506) | about a year ago | (#44413827)

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.

"Don't be suspicious of your fellow Americans" (4, Insightful)

jigawatt (1232228) | about a year ago | (#44413269)

.. said the head of the NSA, TSA, and IRS. "After all, Trayvon could have been me."

Re:"Don't be suspicious of your fellow Americans" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413771)

he meant citizens :) not government

Re:"Don't be suspicious of your fellow Americans" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414429)

This made me laugh - we elected a gangbanger.

Idiots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413281)

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

So the 40 percent are low-grade morons, unaware or unable to grasp what it is they're giving up?

Re:Idiots. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413321)

Yes, we call them Republicans.

Re:Idiots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413387)

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

So the 40 percent are low-grade morons, unaware or unable to grasp what it is they're giving up?

plus or minus the margin of error (I would assume more towards the plus)

40% approve (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44413409)

A nation of little fascists...and... E pluribus unum...magnus

Re:40% approve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414517)

"E pluribus unum" is printed on the money.

"Salus populi suprema lex esto" is on the state seal where I live (Missouri).

Guess which one I prefer.

Most Americans think NSA will ignore anything... (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#44413471)

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.

Re:Most Americans think NSA will ignore anything.. (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44413635)

produce our next home grown Putin

You mean like our own CIA man turned president [wikipedia.org] ?

Good News! (1)

Luthair (847766) | about a year ago | (#44413495)

The NSA knows who they surveyed and they will be addressing comments individually!

70% of Americans surveyed? Good poll, oh, wait. (1)

Max Kington (3000721) | about a year ago | (#44413529)

IANAA (American) but I can't help but think that "70%" is of the people surveryed and however they get to extrapolate to the rest of the country is, well, put it this way, I find it hard to believe 70% of people actually care. If they do, you could ask the same survey pool if they thought the government could be trusted on and you'd likely get the same answer. The same is true in Europe, most people (I don't mean people who shout loudly about it) just don't care. I've been digging into privacy whilst exploring cryptographic protocols and when I talk to people about if they think it's a good idea or not, I have literally been gobsmacked at the number of people who say "I have nothing to hide" and don't care about surveilance and monitoring.
I am in fact convinced that we need to build a better argument around your privacy being a right and it being the default position. The rather apocolyptic stories about dictatorships gone by (the it'll never happen here syndrome) don't help. The extremety of "why not have a camera and mic in every room of your house", doesn't work, as it's too extreme, and people just dismiss it without stopping to think about the fact that privacy is a variable thing but that it should *theirs* to give away, not simpy defaulted to off until they don't like it.

Survey text... (5, Informative)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#44413545)

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...

Re:Survey text... (2)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#44414205)

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... (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Survey text... (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44414421)

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 founders would agree with the American people. (5, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44413563)

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.

public pressure ended mccarthysm (3, Interesting)

Dan667 (564390) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:public pressure ended mccarthysm (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44413769)

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.

Re:public pressure ended mccarthysm (1)

Max Kington (3000721) | about a year ago | (#44413849)

But Mccarthysm by it's very nature had to go on, in the public domain. This is quite the opposite and the only way to make sure it's proportionate are the oversight comittees which need not report their inner workings at all.

Quit voting to *PAY* for this shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413683)

Every single time you vote for someone who wants to make "somone else" pay "their fair share", YOU ARE FUNDING THIS SHIT!!!!!!

Re:Quit voting to *PAY* for this shit (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about a year ago | (#44414105)

You know all the politicians that have been warning me to not put up with forcing others to pay their fair share are the kinds of politicians that support this. Further this is wrapped up so tightly with the types of things most central to our government that you'd be hard pressed to cut enough taxes to get down to it without making the US into New Somalia. You'd probably hit it just before Congressional Salaries.

Re:Quit voting to *PAY* for this shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414321)

At least they're being consistent, all the Republicans who thought that the media shouldn't report on Bush's anti terror policies still don't think they should report on Obama's, only now the Democrats don't think they should too.

Re:Quit voting to *PAY* for this shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414155)

Have you seen our deficit? We're not paying for this shit.

Not clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413693)

I read that summary 5 times and I still have no idea what it says. It's every bit as convoluted as the government's arguments to justify what they are doing.

Laws, damn laws, and the courts (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about a year ago | (#44413743)

One of the raisons d'etre (arguably the raison d'etre) of the judicial branch is as a checksum of current laws against the constitution regardless of the opinion of the majority. So even if less than 1% of Americans thought this, it shouldn't (in theory) make a damn bit of difference. Of course the likelihood of a law being tested for constitutionality does depend on public perception.

But I learned a long time that the world don't play fair, and the courts are merely another means of expressing this fact. Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that so many critical decisions by the Supreme Court have been 5-4 splits? So these really really important issues pretty much come down to a coin toss.

Courts? Justice? Rule of Law? Please, you're killing me here.

Re:Laws, damn laws, and the courts (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | about a year ago | (#44414015)

Just a check. A checksum is something else. There is no parity in government, only parody.

Re:Laws, damn laws, and the courts (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44414501)

To get to the Supreme Court a case has to be very tough. 5-4, 6-3 expresses who wins the coin toss on these tough cases. Elections matter.

Courts are not failing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44413761)

They are doing exactly as they are told.

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

why only 1500 people (1)

iamagloworm (816661) | about a year ago | (#44414171)

why do these stupid surveys only ever ask 1500 people? is that the minimum number set?

Big deal. (1, Troll)

quenda (644621) | about a year ago | (#44414183)

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?

Re:Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414569)

That many people, while being glaringly ignorant and illogical, still vote based on those views. Survey's just remind me of two truthes
1)most people while being capable of thinking through issues choose not to.
2)most people hold inherently contradictory views on facets of the same subject.

Perfect example: I was in vegas a few weeks ago and actually flipped on CNN. They were reading a survey of how americans viewed Snowden. They said "A majority of americans believe what Snowden did was the right thing to do" and then int he next line "A majority of americans believe that Snowden should be prosecuted for what he did".
From this we can infer that americans believe that people should be prosecuted for performing moral acts. Yet if you were to ask them this question they would likely disagree.

Darn those activist courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414313)

Darn those activist courts, they have not business interfering in what the other 2 branches are doing.

Hasn't that been the conservative mantra since the 50s and 60s?

And now after years after getting what they've been asking for, the courts are giving it to them?

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

It's only a problem now because a Democrat is taking full advantage of what the Republicans have spent years getting into place.

Was the extension necessary? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44414451)

Most Americans Think Courts Are Failing...

The "to limit government surveillance" was an unneeded specification. They're failing, period :P

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