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Americans Don't Care About Domestic Spying ?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the you're-blocking-the-view-of-the-big-game dept.

Privacy 485

S1mmo+61 writes "Salon is analyzing a Time Magazine article today, a piece that essentially claims Americans do not care about the domestic spying. The analysis of the Time magazine piece (which is longer than the article itself) is interesting, if only as a quick history of domestic spying in the last eight years. 'Time claims that "nobody cares" about the Government's increased spying powers and that "polling consistently supports that conclusion." They don't cite a single poll because that assertion is blatantly false. Just this weekend, a new poll released by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University proves that exactly the opposite is true. That poll shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is "very secretive" has doubled in the last two years alone (to 44%)'"

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Retort (5, Funny)

GWLlosa (800011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782002)

I'd write an insightful and scathing retort, in which the abundance of witticisms and the razor-sharp logic would decisively destroy the opposing position... but I don't know who might be reading this.

Re:Retort (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782092)

We don't need to read your retort citizen. Knowing your recently confessed ability of writing one made us extract it from your brain.

Please wait patiently for our transport services to go pick you up.

Err, where did you live exactly?

Re:Retort (5, Funny)

Beefaroni (1229886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782112)

i thought our calls were being monitored or recorded for quality purposes.

Re:Retort (5, Insightful)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782510)

'Time claims that "nobody cares" about the Government's increased spying powers and that "polling consistently supports that conclusion." They don't cite a single poll because that assertion is blatantly false. Just this weekend, a new poll released by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University proves that exactly the opposite is true. That poll shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is "very secretive" has doubled in the last two years alone (to 44%)'"

I have no idea what the truth is on this matter, but the fact that "nobody cares" is not refuted by "the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is 'very secretive' has doubled... to 44%." Simply put, it's entirely possible more people believe the government is more secretive--but they simply don't care.

It's not in any way shocking to learn that people are apathetic. If you ask them whether they want a secretive government, most people will say no. But if you use an objective metric it's very easy to conclude that those same people really don't care that strongly one way or the other.

I actually agree with the article. (4, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782006)

Talk to most people about domestic spying or the abuses of the Patriot Act, and they say something like, "Well, if you're not doing something bad, who cares if the government is watching?"

I think that's a completely shortsighted and borderline insane viewpoint, but it's the one I most frequently encounter with most Americans.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (1, Funny)

vandit2k6 (848077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782136)

But wait if you did nothing bad then what's the problem?

Re:I actually agree with the article. (4, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782220)

If this weren't /., I'd ask you for details of your sex life, making sure not to imply anything illegal. I'd ask for details of your finances. I'd ask what you liked reading as a guilty pleasure (not counting /.).

After all, if you're doing nothing bad, why would you be reluctant for people to discuss your bathroom habits?

Re:I actually agree with the article. (0, Troll)

vandit2k6 (848077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782296)

But you're missing the point. I am pretty sure they don't care about that stuff, right I don't know but why do you think they would care? The whole point in spying is to weed out the bad guys right? They care about other details.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (4, Insightful)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782428)

The point is not whether some random "they" person cares. Who's to say that one of those "they" people is your Significant Other's creepy ex who decides to make your life hell/embarass you both or have some other agenda to make your life difficult. It's easy enough if that Significant Other happens to be a police officer right now. They have immense power, they can run your plates, find out where you live, follow you around. But wait, you say, they should surely get in trouble for that, yes, they should, do they always, no. Besides, you have nothing to hide. Face it, we all have some things we would like to keep private, and they can always make you a bad guy.

Missing the point... (4, Insightful)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782596)

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Re:I actually agree with the article. (2, Insightful)

BVis (267028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782624)

The point is, it's none of their fucking business. Why should I have to be pro-active in asserting my right to privacy (assuming I've got that right to assert?) If I want to call Aunt Tille in Tulsa to wish her a happy birthday, why is that the government's business? More to the point, if I decide to donate to an organization that the government doesn't like (assuming they're not involved in illegal activity), again, not their business.

The fourth amendment to the Constitution is taking as big a beating (if not bigger) as the first these days. We might find evidence of illegal/terroristic activity, but to date that's never been a very convincing argument for invading Americans' privacy (at least without at least the APPEARANCE of due process. Pesty thing, that whole 'due process' thing. Fortunately, we've been able to get around it so long as the people we're holding without trial are brown.) The whole point of the fourth amendment is that the government must make its case to a neutral party before it invades someone's privacy. If my choices are between living in a state that performs such fascist behaviors (such as spying on whoever the fuck it wants in the name of 'national security') or rolling the dice that I or someone I know might conceivably die in a terrorist attack, I'll take the latter every time. As I understand it, the odds of that happening are roughly the same as winning the Powerball. It's not a huge risk; it's definitely not worth doing the terrorists' work for them, which is what we're doing by stripping away the civil rights of law-abiding Americans. We can't even look at the results to determine if the benefits of these actions are worth it, because the government won't tell us what they've found. "Trust us, it's working, after all, we haven't had an attack since 9/11, have we?" (Someone needs to educate the average American about the concept of 'correlation != 'causation'.)

Re:I actually agree with the article. (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782686)

So you would support them installing cameras in your bathroom to ensure you're not doing drugs or molesting kids in there, right? It's to weed out the bad guys after all.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782518)

Dry spell; spank ~.6x/day, last year running average.

~$26,000 in S&P index fund, $1,500 in high-grade bonds, $300 in company stock in 401k
~$5,000 in international index, $3,000 in small-cap index in Roth IRA
(I could go on, you get the point.)

No guilty pleasure reading activities. Reading female-oriented (cosmo, chick lit) works is guilty, but not a pleasure; reading about AI and the human brain is a pleasure but not guilty.

Frequent constipation resulting from medication regimen.

Now do I have the right not to give a shit about the Patriot Act?

Re:I actually agree with the article. (0, Troll)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782512)

If I haven't done anything wrong, why are they wasting their time spying on me?

Re:I actually agree with the article. (1)

vandit2k6 (848077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782582)

Because until they spy they can't know right? I am not defending them but it does make sense. I totally agree they shouldn't know my sexual life but I think they should probably know if I am talking to a terrorist one a phone.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (4, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782700)

If you aren't doing anything wrong, why do you have curtains on your windows?

Re:I actually agree with the article. (5, Interesting)

taskiss (94652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782284)

People go to great lengths to post everything conceivable about themselves on facebook or other sites these days. Pictures of folks breaking laws are as hard to find as porn. Occasionally you hear of attempts at prosecution for these self incriminatory, self published bits of evidence of illegal activity, but mostly you see under-age kids drinking and taking drugs and nothing is done.

Nothing.

So, you think it's "shortsighted and borderline insane" to believe no-one cares? There's no evidence that there should be a reason to care.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (5, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782526)

Well, they won't care, until down the line it prevents them from getting a job. Or perhaps the government uses that information to disparage a future MLK before they even get a chance to get going. But of course the government never watched people like MLK, never probed into his life, and never, ever tried to undermine what he was doing. Because our government is good.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (4, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782300)

Talk to most people about domestic spying or the abuses of the Patriot Act, and they say something like, "Well, if you're not doing something bad, who cares if the government is watching?"

Not in the bars I drink at!

Re:I actually agree with the article. (3, Insightful)

sixtyeight (844265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782386)

Yes, there's a gem of an idea that's lodged itself firmly in the American mindset. But where did Americans learn such a distorted premise from originally? I'm sure it couldn't have been the media in its sycophantic and passive treatment of politics over the last several decades.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (3, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782650)

But where did Americans learn such a distorted premise from originally?
From their childhood.

As children we are told, over and over, that there are "bad people" and "good people". Bad people do bad things, and good people do good things. If you're good you can't do bad things, and if you're bad you can't do good things. It's all very simple. It's also quite obviously completely wrong.

The trouble is, secretly in their heads, a lot of people never, ever, get over this viewpoint. Ever.

Criminals are bad. Terrorists are bad. Therefore they cannot do good things and deserve to be punished. By contrast, "we" are good. We don't do bad things. Therefore, this law will not affect us. We have nothing "bad" to hide because we are "good". I assure you that many, many, people of quite advanced years and experience think like this.

There's also an element of Schadenfreude to it all. Secretly a lot of people really enjoy seeing others punished and/or humiliated. I don't mean from a sense of justice. I mean they actually enjoy watching/hearing about "bad" humans getting "punished", ostracized, or especially maltreated by "good" people, i.e. authority figures. A lot of people support waterboarding because it is torture, and for no other reason. The same element that sells celebrity gossip magazines is behind it too. I suspect many people support these laws in the hope neighbors they dislike will have embarrassing private details discovered and published.

We are told that we live in an "advanced", "civilized" society, where people have abandoned brutal, cruel, petty and bigoted ways of life. That's a crock. The only thing that has happened is that it has become taboo to support such things in public life.

Re:I actually agree with the article. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782546)

A year or so ago, Daniel J Solove, a professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, wrote this interesting essay entitled 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy [ssrn.com] .

I highly recommend a read through it, he explains why people have so much trouble understanding what privacy is, why it is important, and what the real tradeoffs are when trying to balance the benefit of some new proposed security measures against the privacy harms they will inflict.

(If you scroll down to the "Chicago GSB" download link, it should let you download the .pdf with no registration required)

Re:I actually agree with the article. (0, Flamebait)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782588)

When I lived in Bezerkely, EVERYONE cared about what our Fearless Leaders were up to, and we all gave it a lot of thought, discussed it on the porches, and in the pubs. Out here in the sticks, no revelation is shocking enough to make any impression whatsoever. It is VERY apparent here that the average person's I.Q. is only 100.

Spitzer's Law (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782654)

Don't worry, even the most fervent supporter of domestic spying is only one prostitution scandal away from having a more balanced viewpoint.

Statistics (5, Insightful)

BaphometLaVey (1063264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782010)

I'm not sure how I like how the summary contrasts "Do you like domestic spying?" with "Do you think federal government is very secretive?". You can clearly think the government is very secretive and still not care about the spying. That isn't to say that people do or do not care, I just don't like the summary's cheap attempt at swaying people.

Re:Statistics (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782214)

I'm not sure how I like how the summary contrasts "Do you like domestic spying?" with "Do you think federal government is very secretive?". You can clearly think the government is very secretive and still not care about the spying. That isn't to say that people do or do not care, I just don't like the summary's cheap attempt at swaying people.

Completely agreed. The summary is crap. However, if you RTFA, the conclusion is very well supported.

Re:Statistics (4, Funny)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782226)

I thought the summary did a pretty good job of trying not to sway anyone. You know -- when summary said the article didn't cite a relevent poll, and then the summary itself didn't cite a relevent poll.

Re:Statistics (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782308)

Yeah, I think it's called "grasping at straws". Time magazine doesn't have any straws but I think it's fair to say the pollsters haven't bothered asking the question, which itself is a sort of survey that is indicative of a general lack of interest (at least amoungst pollsters).

Of course, a servey of American slashdotters would show a different picture.

Re:Statistics (1, Insightful)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782548)

Of course, a servey of American slashdotters would show a different picture.

And I'm sure American Slashdotters is a statistically valid subset of the American people, right?

Truthiness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782022)

'Time claims that "nobody cares" about the Government's increased spying powers and that "polling consistently supports that conclusion." They don't cite a single poll because ...
Because only those who hate freedom would oppose the will of the government. Why should we need a poll to know that people who love freedom also support anything the government does. And those who don't? Why should we care about them?

Those who fail to learn the lessons of history... (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782030)

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it." -- (Don't remember who said it).

It's called propaganda, folks. "Tell a lie long and enough and loud enough and sooner or later people will believe you." -- P.T. Barnum, I think.

Re:Those who fail to learn the lessons of history. (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782102)

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it." -- (Don't remember who said it).

That was George Santayana [wikipedia.org] .

It's called propaganda, folks. "Tell a lie long and enough and loud enough and sooner or later people will believe you." -- P.T. Barnum, I think.

Actually, that was Joseph Goebbels [thinkexist.com] .

Re:Those who fail to learn the lessons of history. (3, Interesting)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782430)

I think if he were to come up with something today, it would be more along the lines of

"Because people inevitable fail to learn the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat it endlessly."

Re:Those who fail to learn the lessons of history. (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782688)

No, the famous Barnum quote is "There's a sucker born every minute." It still applies, though.

Is it just me... (1)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782034)

... or is the assertion "Americans don't care about domestic spying" only very loosely tied to "Americans think the Government is very secretive?"

Don't get me wrong, I think the federal government is *very* secretive, and I greatly dislike domestic spying... but the two are not mutually inclusive. It's far from "Poll B proves Assertion A is a blatantly false."

The problem isn't that we're all being watched, (4, Interesting)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782074)

its that we don't know by whom or why.

The lack of transparency is at the heart of any problem we have with surveilance.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782100)

Don't get me wrong, I think the federal government is *very* secretive, and I greatly dislike domestic spying... but the two are not mutually inclusive. It's far from "Poll B proves Assertion A is a blatantly false."
Oh, I agree with your logic 100%. But I really don't think that Americans 'don't care' about domestic spying. You can make a poll say anything you want it to say. There a various well-established techniques for that, including selection bias and tricky question wording.

Re:Is it just me... (2, Funny)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782122)

There a various well-established techniques for that, including selection bias and tricky question wording.

Yes, which is why I enjoy pollsters calling me so much. Assuming my four kids aren't screaming in the background (which makes life miserable for the pollster anyway) I like to break down the question and make sure I get exactly what they are getting at before answering. It drives most of them nuts. =)

Re:Is it just me... (1)

carou (88501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782454)

Why would the caller know what a question was really trying to get at? They didn't design the questions, they're paid minimum wage to read from a script.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782202)

That's exactly what I was going to point out. Sure, there may be a lot of people who think that the government is being "secretive". But a lot of those people seem to think it's the right thing to do. I know enough people who take the stance of "anything to make us safer" that I can easily believe Time's conclusion that Americans as a whole just don't give a damn.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782230)

... or is the assertion "Americans don't care about domestic spying" only very loosely tied to "Americans think the Government is very secretive?"

Don't get me wrong, I think the federal government is *very* secretive, and I greatly dislike domestic spying... but the two are not mutually inclusive. It's far from "Poll B proves Assertion A is a blatantly false."


RTFA. The summary is crap. The article supports it's position very well.

Poll doesn't "prove exact opposite" (1)

Gigiya (1022729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782040)

The cited poll just proves that people admit that domestic spying takes place, not that they care about it.

It is all about how you ask the question (5, Informative)

rahmrh (939610) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782046)

If you want a certain answer on a poll, if you ask the question in the correct way, you can usually get the answer that you want. Like: Does it bother you that the US govt increased domestic spying to keep you safe from the terrorists? Rather than: Does it bother you that the US govt increased domestic spying is keeping track of everything that you do? The first one will get a more positive answer against domestic spying than the second one, and I would bet the polls questions being used are heavily loaded to get the answer the poll taker wants.

Re:It is all about how you ask the question (2, Interesting)

presarioD (771260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782180)

exactly the point, it took sometime for people to become skeptical about their governments, now we are crossing the other mark where people become skeptical about their "news outlets" and what overlords they serve. Before you know it people who admit their source of information comes from the traditional media, something that will immediately show up anyway in their regurgitation of the official propaganda line (eg. talk to an american about the israeli/palestinian issue and then talk to a european, notice the vast difference in reality perception), would be derided upon and ignored or marginalized.

This is a great thing but I'm expecting propaganda to fight back in the new medium of information dissemination, first by trying to control it, and then by trying to dominate on its indexing and resources...

It makes sense that the Gov't is more secretive (1)

junklogin (1002872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782054)

Unfortunately.... The more people can learn about previously hush hush information like the capabilities of spy satellites and wiretapping -> the more worried a government will become that it is losing its ability to conduct intelligence gathering -> the more the government wants to clamp down on knowledge of what it does to protect itself / its citizens (yes I do think most people in the government work for the good of their fellow countrywomen and men). Is it good, no, but it makes sense.

some people don't (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782070)

As a coworker of mine says whenever the subject comes up, "That's what I pay my taxes for. I want them to be doing this." I feel like slapping him silly when he says that. What's worse is that he truly believes it.

Re:some people don't (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782256)

"That's what I pay my taxes for. I want them to be doing this."


Not that it will make one difference to someone who thinks like that, the next time this comes up, ask them if they agreed with the former Soviet Union spying on its citizens, listening in on phone conversations and having a network of spies to find out who might have subversive ideas.

If they say no, ask them why it's not ok for them to do it but it's ok for the U.S. to do it. Sit back and watch them stammer as they try to find an excuse to justify their position.

Huh, what do you know. I didn't Godwin the conversation.

Re:some people don't (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782382)

That's the thing. He actually is a fairly intelligent guy who just happens to have this overly patriotic streak running through him. I've asked about the Soviet Union doing it to their citizens, and he responds with something like "Well, that was different. Here we're only going after the bad guys." He doesn't think that "his" government could do something that wrong.

Re:some people don't (4, Funny)

Comboman (895500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782592)

Huh, what do you know. I didn't Godwin the conversation.

We need a new law that replaces Nazi analogies with Soviet analogies. "Godwin's Law 2: This time it's Commies"

Re:some people don't (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782618)

McCarthy's Law?

Re:some people don't (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782266)

Then sit down and explain it to him in simple words he'll understand. I've met people with such a naïve outlook, and the best thing in my opinion is to try and educate them. If we, who are passionate about this, don't, then noone else will.

heh. (2, Funny)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782072)

they might of got a different answer if they had surveyed /. readers.

thanks heavens I live in the UK where government spying on the populace is strictly for... oh wait.

Nuke IRAN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782076)

Nuke IRAN! Do it now while there's still time!

Goatse. [twofo.co.uk]

Americans DO care (5, Informative)

BirdDoggy (886894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782078)

I've posted this before, but here's a survey that shows Americans are against Warrantless Wiretaps, Blanket Warrants, And Immunity For
Telecom Companies.

http://www.aclu.org/pdfs/safefree/mellmansurvey_jan2008.pdf [aclu.org] [aclu.org]

Re:Americans DO care (1)

grommit (97148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782622)

I've posted this before, but here's a survey that shows Americans are against Warrantless Wiretaps, Blanket Warrants, And Immunity For
Telecom Companies.


They're against it and yet, I'll bet that they're not quite against it enough to do anything about it. In the US, it is a long way from complaining about something while watching a news report and actually doing something to change what you're complaining about.

Better question: (2, Interesting)

sixtyeight (844265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782084)

Why the hell are our news sources giving us anything other than news? Uneducated man on the street opinions (I already know my opinion thanks, and don't trust your statistics on everyone else's), corporate advertising for new products billed as a science and technology item, known political chicanery and fraudulent press statements passed on without any actual scrutiny or independant research, and then a fluff piece to take our minds off it all. Oh how nice, you left some money for me on the bed, and now for sports, traffic and weather.

Re:Better question: (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782250)

They make more money that way. There are some journalistic ethics left, for whatever good they do, but those with them don't run the news.

Re:Better question: (1)

sixtyeight (844265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782336)

So you're saying there's a lapse in ethics from those who do run the news. The bottom line, then, is a lack of accountability from the public. Government doesn't hold them to accountability, the media don't report on it, and the citizenry isn't requiring it. It's a vicious cycle, resulting in exactly what we have now: news media that is no longer news media, and a society that doesn't work.

Polls will give you any answer you want (4, Interesting)

khakipuce (625944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782104)

The problem with polls is that it is all about the way the questions are phrased: e.g. a survey on Captial Punishment may ask:
  "Do you agree that it is OK to mistakenly execute an innocent person?"
alternatively they could ask:
  "Should serial killers remain a burden on the tax payer for the entirity of their natural lives?"

People also habitually exagerate and lie when responding to surveys, and I know professional pollsters should be able to weed this out but they have often failed. A survey on food habits asked people to keep a record of all ingredients used over a period of many weeks. To make the lives of the participants easier, if a ready prepared meal was eaten then they could just keep the packaging. The survey found that the consumption of ready meals was much higher than any one ever thought...

Re:Polls will give you any answer you want (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782372)

Only blatantly dishonest ones.

"Do you agree that it is OK to mistakenly execute an innocent person?"
alternatively they could ask:
    "Should serial killers remain a burden on the tax payer for the entirity of their natural lives?"


Both are blatantly dishonest questions. That's why you need to see the raw data to make a determination of whether it's a legitimate scientific poll that seeks to desciver, or whether it's a PR sham. The honest way of asking the question would be "do you believe murderers should be executed?"

A good poll asks the same question in different ways, and the researcher studying the results can get a far better picture. All three versions would be asked, plus one or two more, and a lot of other questions that may or may not even have anything at all to do with what you're studying.

Re:Polls will give you any answer you want (5, Interesting)

Insipid Trunculance (526362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782574)

With apologies for the blatant plagiarism

Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"

Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."

Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."

Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"

Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."

Bernard Woolley: "How?"

Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."

it's a matter of perception (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782126)

an "us" versus "them"

where "us" is your average american, the beneficiary of the spying, and "them" is your average islamofascist, the target of the spying

as long as that perception holds, your average american will support domestic spying

but of course, there is something called mission creep. much as we still pay tolls for bridges that were already paid for 10x over 50 years ago, once somethign is in place that benefits the goverment, it's not moving unless a really big push comes to shove

so unless stories come out about abuses of spying laws (and no, your average american does not view abuse as something that hurts someone seen as sympathetic to radical islam), where "us" versus "them" shifts in meaning to "us"=the agenda of someone in the government, and "them"=any average joe blow, these spying laws will be in place for a long time

that may take decades

as long as the government uses these powers shrewdly, and uses them only against those who most obviously have no interest in a tolerant society and the rights that should be used to protect them in the first place, your average american simply won't care. but what will happen is the government will not use these powers shrewdly, a scandal will happen where these powers are flagrantly abused, and the domestic spying laws will be reversed

so start looking for that scandal. it may take awhile

wiretapping/secret governement... (1)

mypridewar (1234320) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782132)

The "unidentified surveys" are supposedely about spying, and the noted one is about how secretive our government is. They don't equal the same thing. Quit sharing opinions, and why the crap is /. posting this bull?

Maybe turn-out proves nobody cares (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782134)

For some reason I'm envisioning some obnoxious overweight woman in a mall, holding 20-page surveys asking, "would'cha like ta take uh survey aboot dumbestic spyin'?" to everyone who walks by her. Everyone refuses, so her results are nobody cares...

Stop the Petty Arguements (2, Insightful)

DigitalisAkujin (846133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782142)

It doesn't matter whether or not "most" people care or don't care.

The issue is that there isn't an overwhelming backlash from this expansion of surveillance power.

The sad part is that America is losing it's democracy without realizing it.

When FDR tried to pack the supreme court the United States Congress saw it for what it really was; the undermining of the checks and balances instituted to prevent abuse of power.

Today, I think, with great sadness if the same thing happened it would hardly be so adamantly opposed. Whichever party the President belongs to would simply support it to further their agenda.

For now... (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782144)

They don't care right now, but they WILL care, rest assured.

i care (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782152)

i must not be american....damnit....

Guy Fawkes masks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782160)

in 3... 2...

Bad Argument (1)

denalione (133730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782198)

Caring about spying and believing the federal government is secretive: these are not mutually exclusive beliefs. I can believe the federal government is secretive and not care. Or I can believe the government is open and care a lot.

What is there to care about? (2, Informative)

taskiss (94652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782222)

There hasn't been any indications that information gained by illegal surveillance has been used in an attempt to prosecute someone. Without that, any claim of illegal surveillance fails to incite anyone. As a matter of fact, using illegally obtained evidence is specifically prohibited from being used, so our rights are preserved.

Just because a tree COULD fall in the woods doesn't mean folks should go around holding their hands over their ears to prevent themselves from hearing it.

Can you hear me now?

Lots. (2, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782364)

There hasn't been any indications that information gained by illegal surveillance has been used in an attempt to prosecute someone.


What about the course of U.S. government since its inception?

The whole point of blackmail is that it exists in the shadows. The stage production of justice is a silly thing to point at when trying to downplay the impact of domestic spying, because the whole point of that kind of leverage is that both the abuser and the victim fight in their own ways to keep it out of the justice system.

McCarthy had dirt on almost everybody of any influence, and he certainly knew the value of it. Nothing has changed, except the expansion of the existing system. Despite the spin being layered on this issue, the true battle has little to do with the specter of abusive public arrests by cops using illegal wiretaps.


-FL

Wag the Dog (5, Interesting)

drneal (1258196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782234)

Is it that Americans don't care about privacy, or that the mass media is intentionally keeping the issue out of the limelight?


When the first vote came up to congress on 13-Feb-2008, the only thing covered on every news channel was the baseball steroids scandal. There was no mention of the congressional debate or vote.
http://www.hackerfactor.com/blog/index.php?/archives/151-Wag-The-Dog.html [hackerfactor.com]

When the revised bill came up to congress on 14-March-2008, it was not covered by the mass media. Instead, they repeatedly covered a "captured Al Qaeda leader"... who isn't a leader, wasn't captured recently, and isn't even missed by Al Qaeda.
http://www.hackerfactor.com/blog/index.php?/archives/164-No-Respect.html [hackerfactor.com]

If more people knew about the domestic spying bill, more people would be mad. And if more people knew about the government's manipulation of the mass media, more people would be furious.

Re:Wag the Dog (2, Interesting)

Dusty00 (1106595) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782628)

I'm of the theory the lack of media coverage is anything but an accident. We all know that American companies are in bed with the government, but let's not forget how much the companies are in bed with each other.

odious in the extreme (3, Informative)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782236)

I find Massimo Calabresi's article to be odious in the extreme. Suppose that his assertion was true, that nobody cared, would it then be okay for illegal domestic spying to occur? That seems to be his unwritten position, and I find that to be disgusting logic. There are numerous examples throughout history of the dangers posed by unregulated spying, some of them (like those uncovered by the Church Commission) right here at home.

I mostly liked Greenwald's response, but he does seem to tilt slightly by Calabresi's points. I think that will make it difficult for his article to be persuasive to those not already persuaded. However, he does link this excellent piece in the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-sanchez16mar16,0,4039194.story [latimes.com]

That might be more approachable to most.

I'd also like to add a bit of insight from Molly Ivins, paraphrased. She said that moderates sometimes fret that when they give the government increased spying powers that they'll end up spying on the girl scouts. But this is wrong: they don't end up spying on the girl scouts, they don't end up making a mistake, they ALREADY ARE. Gotta keep tabs on those nonviolent Quakers, etc. It's not "what if" the government abuses its authority, it's by how much.

Did anybody read the second link by Greenwald? (2, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782260)

WTF am I thinking! This is /.

He basically says that Time lied . Yep. So, in other words most Americans care about the Bush administration's illegal wiretaps and Time is making up data to support an opposite conclusion.

Polls (1)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782312)

I think the poll should have asked if people were getting sick of responding to polls. It's probably the only poll you could give someone and expect a reliable answer.

"Conventional wisdom" is almost always bullshit (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782316)

I wonder how many Americans actually know that the CIA has absolutely no legal jurisdiction to spy on the American people. In order for it to spy on the American people, it has to break a whole host of laws.

The FBI, one of the most thuggish law enforcement agencies in the United States, however, has quite a lot of ability to spy on you.

The truth is, the people likely to be spying on you, are the people who should scare you because they are law enforcement, not spooks.

I love the shock on others' faces when they say "I have nothing to hide," and I respond, there is no innocence in the sight of an evil man with power. This is especially amusing when I point it out to other Christians, generally who support Bush and "strong-on-this-or-that" policies. There is nothing worse than an evil man with unchecked power because when his attention turns to you, he will, by nature, try to turn every good you have done into an evil thing in order to enjoy his power.

Where's the opposition? (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782330)

I agree with the TIME editor on this one. And by saying that Americans don't give a squat about it, he obviously talks about Americans in general, not that the entire population holds this stance.

As for the poll that was mentioned in the Slashdot summary that claims the direct opposite:

[..]shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is "very secretive" has doubled in the last two years alone (to 44%)
How is this direct proof of the opposite? And how can we know that the poll was conducted in an unbiased manner?

There is little evidence that [the average] American cares about these issues. We rarely see any protests and almost no media coverage. The TIME editor may be wrong (or not), but at least he ignited a much needed debate that could eventually prove that if a blowjob can lead to impeachment, so should Bush's deeds.

One quote about freedom vs security (2, Insightful)

Parker Lewis (999165) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782366)

"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." - Benjamin Franklin

More people vote for "dancing with stars" than (2, Insightful)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782368)

they do the president. The media, which at one point was probably controlled by liberals has now shifted into some sort of... monster. Republicans don't control it - Murdoch does... that guy is probably one of the many possible anti-christs but I digress :P

For the most part, the millenials (those born after 1980) don't care much about politics, and those who do mainly have skewed, false information.

Did anyone see the california train derailment that happened in cali? I would have never known about it if my brother, who ordered something from newegg tracked his shipping details and it said "train derailment" and called and told me.

The millenials don't care about things unless it jumps up and smacks them in the face. Its sad, really.

Editor Bias (4, Insightful)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782398)

Talk about a biased summary:

They don't cite a single poll because that assertion is blatantly false


Can't we be left to make up our own minds on the validity of their assertion. This isn't Fox News is it?

international phone calls will be tapped. (1)

anwyn (266338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782416)

I always assume that all international phone calls are tapped, if not by the U.S. Government, then by foreign governments such as the Chinese, the French and the Israel. This used to be the way the U.S government did it all the time, get some foreign government to do the tap then pass on the info, thus avoiding any pesky laws passed by Congress.

I guess that got to be too inconvenient, hence the recent controversies.

Foreign governments are going to spy regardless of any possible law or supreme court decision.

If I need to send something secret internationally I send an encrypted email.

I can not get excited by one more government tapping international phone calls.

Please continue with the petty bickering, I find it fascinating.

Re:international phone calls will be tapped. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782502)

I am an American exilee living overseas, and I am absolutely sure this foreign government that govern the country I am living in, DOES NOT spy or wiretap my calls, e-mails, text messages or anything of sort.
I just can't live in the US anymore with all this paranoia. And, there is no problem to keep working in the US from overseas, thanks to our WWW.
This place I am living in doesn't have random police blockades, highway patrol doesn't stop you for no reason just to check your "driver's license and registration", I don't even need to give my name to buy a prepaid cell phone here, so that is the freedom I used to miss from our old USA, before the Neo-Con tyranny started...

(Anonymous for obvious reasons...)

What Should We Expect? (4, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782446)

First, RTFA. The summary picks the least useful poll in the entire article as its example of the otherwise very strong support the article gives for the author's position.

Reading the popular media, you might get the impression that the people don't care that our government is at war with our country. But then, that may just be the media pushing its preference for a stable tapestry on which to paint transient images of sex scandals. Those people who supposedly don't care have also been giving tens of millions of dollars a month, in individual amounts betraying the fact that they are not members of the ruling class and in numbers demonstrating an extraordinarily broad base, to one presidential candidate who does not represent business as usual.

If you look to establishment journalism for serious critique of the establishment, should you really be surprised if what you find is not truth, but spurious defense?

As Kasparov said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782478)

From the Time article: "There are no scandalous examples of the White House using the Patriot Act powers for political purposes or of individual agents using them for personal gain."

Really? As Kasparov said to Bill Maher - how do you know?

Forefather said it best... (1)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782482)

Those that give up Liberty to have temporary
Security deserve Neither - Benjamin Franklin.

Fight for your freedoms.. (1)

davidpbrown (757067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782490)

Americans aren't any different to the rest of the world.. if you want the US to continue being different you need to work against the normalising forces that move you closer towards a world of 1984 where everyone is guzzling *bucks, munching McD and watching screens telling you want you want and what to do.

The pressures the drive the brown shirts to look for more powers will always exist. The people need to resist their government, else their prisonkeepers will take advantage and abuse the citizens.

I failed to read the article, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22782514)

The summary, if an accurate description of the article, makes it sound terrible. As has been pointed out, thinking the government is secretive has relatively little to do with your opinion on spying. But apart from that, there's a more subtle point: one poll doesn't prove anything at all (even if there was an actual relationship between the two questions). You need more than one poll showing the same thing before you can even come close to saying that some opinion is held by the populace at large.

probably offtopic (1)

ImTheDarkcyde (759406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782524)

But quick poll:

Besides this one, have you ever actually been polled in the real world? Like a hardcore poll that ends up on CNN and stuff.

I can safely say that I don't know a single person who has been, and thus take every poll I see with a large grain of salt.

seems obvious (4, Insightful)

youngdev (1238812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782540)

but I may as well point this out. I think the reasons Most Americans don't care is because they understand the program beyond what it is being called.
1) The media likes to call it "Domestic Spying" but the truth is that the authority only covers calls where one party is outside the US. In that case, calling it a "Domestic Spy Program" is deceptive.
2) Americans understand (even if the eggheads in the media do not) that the US is at war. And during war time the US policy needs to be nimble enough to combat a faceless enemy. In a world where terrorist cells operate almost completely autonomous, you can't say "Well we can't listen to this conversation because we don't have a warrant. We'll get a warrant for the next one." There may not be a next one. Buildings could just start dropping from the sky.
3) As far as abuses of the patriot act go, you really need to look at this in a historical context. In WW2, Roosevelt interned 120K Japanese-Americans out of fear that they might try to sabotage US efforts against Japan. In June 1942, 8 German saboteurs were caught trying to enter the US to sabotage the US efforts against Germany. By July 8th, All eight were sentenced to death by a military tribunal. By August they all smelled a little too much like burnt toast. Lincoln is famous for his rape of the constitution. After the civil war, 2nd amendment rights in the south were abbreviated, Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus, etc.

So you see, this is the nature of war. I will be more concerned about these programs if they exist long after American boots have left the middle east. In the meantime, I want my uncle and brother to be as safe as possible over there.

Most Americans believe that ... (1)

krygny (473134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782610)

Whenever some pundit starts a statement with "Most Americans believe that ... ", you can translate it to mean "I believe, and I'm about to try to convince you and anyone listening, that ..."

See also, sig.

Ugh. I can't stand this kind of journalism. (5, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782626)

"Hi! I'm a Mac." "And I'm a PC."


You've all heard that one. --A very pure example of one of the most insidious and powerful advertising techniques in the biz. It's not about this feature over that feature. It's not even about the perception that one is cool and the other not. Nope.

The true intent of such advertising is never stated or obvious. What is the true intent?

To program people with regard to how they identify themselves to themselves. It's not, "Hi! I USE a Mac." --Which is powerful enough, especially when the human brain is lulled into low revs on the EEG meter as a direct result of gazing at a flickering CRT, Television viewing instantly puts every person into a clinically measurable hypnotic state where suggestion becomes defacto reality to the personality. Even when you know intellectually that owning a PC is no different than owning a can opener, that part of your brain is short circuited and a deeper part of your personality is affected, no matter how strong your personal resolve, by the emotional knowledge that you are not young and hip in whatever way is being provided as the benchmark. (In this case, by a Mac user who uses faux love and respect to deliver demoralizing comments and knife jabs. The latest in a long stream of sick tactics in the game of social power.)

What has this got to do with Time Magazine?

The article in question doesn't report so much as it instructs.

It tells us the abuse and it tells us that we do not care. Humans are social creatures; on an instinctive level we need to belong to the group, and so we will generally adopt whatever behavior is prevailing just to remain in the tribe, to stay part or the pack. Time Magazine is perhaps the top selling magazine in the U.S. Everybody knows this on some level; if Time speaks, it does so as an important voice of our tribe. So when it tells us what we think, on a deep level, we listen and for those who don't actively learn how this kind of programming works, we very often obey.

Abuser to the victim: "I'm going to rape you until you rupture, and you're not going to complain. You're even going to defend me against potential rescuers."

Stockholm Syndrom; When separated from the rest of the world for even a short time, fear and the instinctive desire to survive, causes people to automatically try to learn the rules of the tribe, (in this case the culture of hostages and power keepers), and fit in so that they are not rejected by the tribe leaders. (i.e., shot in the head.) So when the rescuers did arrive, they were actively fought by the hostages themselves. Stupid, but that's the human machine, and advertisers and media conglomerates know this fact well.

If Time Magazine wanted to serve humanity, it would not tell us what we think with endless polls and such. It would tell us what is happening in the world and would remain unbiased at all times. You know. Responsible journalism. Instead we get the popular kid telling us what all the cool people think.


-FL

clarification (1)

e-scetic (1003976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782630)

I'm not sure why, of all the tidbits it could have quoted, the poster quoted the bit about people thinking the government is more secretive. Maybe doing this generates discussion.

But for those too lazy to RTFA, this quote from the Salon article has greater thrust towards the conclusion:

The same poll also found that 77% of Americans believe that "the federal government opened mail and monitored phone calls of people in the U.S. without first getting permission from a federal judge," and 64% believe "that the federal government has opened mail or monitored telephone conversations involving members of the news media." Only a small minority (20%) believe that the Federal Government is "Very Open" or "Somewhat Open."
And:

From a December, 2005 CNN poll, days after the NSA scandal was first disclosed: Nearly two-thirds said they are not willing to sacrifice civil liberties to prevent terrorism, as compared to 49 percent saying so in 2002.

So he Times article cites no polls whatsoever, it's just someone talking out of their ass. The Salon article quotes a poll that shows the opposite conclusions.

And to those who say polls/surveys are inaccurate, I say it's better than talking out of your ass.

Both the article and it's criticism are correct (4, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782636)

The issue here is that both the article and it's criticism start with an incorrect premise. That is that the TSA is actually "Domestic Spying".

For the original article, the reason people don't mind "Domestic surveillance" is because they see right through the slanted polls.

If I may geek-out for a moment, it's rather like the episode of Star Trek TNG where Data thought a small repair robot had developed sentience. Nobody believed him and they tested the robot by setting up a situation where if the robot didn't flee the area, it would be destroyed. Of course, the test was a fake-out. When the robot didn't flee when it ostensibly should have to save it's own life, everybody concluded that it wasn't sentient. What Data discovered was that the robot SAW RIGHT THROUGH the test, realized it was a fake-out, and kept working.

When you ask most people about the "Domestic Spying Program" most people know you are talking about the Terrorist Surveillance Act. Since they disagree with the premise that it is "domestic spying", they answer that they have no problems with it. Thus you get an article like the Time's article.

However, if you ask a more nebulous question such as "Should the Government be spying on it's own citizens?" You will inevitably get an opposite result. OF COURSE people don't want to be spied upon by their government. However, they DO NOT agree with the false premise that the TSA is "Domestic spying".

I'm not going to get into the reasons why the premise is wrong, I've no patience for the Bush Derangement Syndrome of the tinfoil hat wearers that comprise part of the Slashdot community. I just thought I'd take a moment to clarify the apparent dichotomy of the results here.

No contradiction here... (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782652)

Just this weekend, a new poll released by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University proves that exactly the opposite is true.

Uhm, exactly the opposite would be: "Americans do care about domestic spying". Is that what the supposed counter-argument asserts? No, it is not:

That poll shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is "very secretive" has doubled in the last two years alone (to to 44%)

Believing, that the government is secretive, does not equate to being bothered by it — plenty of people think, the government should be more secretive in its fight against our enemies (whether they are right is besides the point).

And 44% — 22% a year ago? — is still less than a half...

in other news (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782666)

People who answer surveys don't care if other people know stuff about them.

non sequitur (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782668)

That poll shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is "very secretive" has doubled in the last two years alone (to 44%)'"

That doesn't necessarily contradict the statement "Americans don't care about domestic spying."

Stay out of my business. (0, Flamebait)

Veritas1980 (1008679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782684)

I really don't care who is reading this. The government has no right to spy on American citizens (at least not without due process). We founded this country on freedoms that they are trampling all over whilst trying to justify it all with "national security". These agencies that are violating our rights need to be held accountable for their actions and the people involved need to be adequately punished. Justice must be served.

I do not care if NSA computers listen in (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22782692)

That was a professional group that has been listening in via computers for over a decade. Their listening was for issues from outside of the USA, even though they have been listening in on local calls.

The problem is that W. has perverted it to allow the DOJ and himself to have access to this data. The issue with this, is that DOJ and president are political AND have the power to arrest with minimal oversight (NSA actually is loaded with oversight).
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