Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Government Technology Politics

Poll Finds Mixed Support for Domestic Wiretaps 851

Posted by Zonk
from the what-support-who's-supporting-this? dept.
aspenbordr writes "The NYTimes reports that Americans are growing more and more concerned about the tradeoff between 'fighting terrorism' and civil liberties. Forty-seven percent of those polled responded they they did not support 'wiretapping in order to reduce the threat of terrorism'." From the article: "Mr. Bush, at a White House press conference yesterday, twice used the phrase 'terrorist surveillance program' to describe an operation in which the administration has eavesdropped on telephone calls and other communications like e-mail that it says could involve operatives of Al Qaeda overseas talking to Americans. Critics say the administration could conduct such surveillance while still getting prior court approval, as spelled out in a 1978 law intended to guard against governmental abuses."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Poll Finds Mixed Support for Domestic Wiretaps

Comments Filter:
  • 47%? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by muhgcee (188154) *
    It is ridiculous that 47% of Americans are not completely up-in-arms about this. We can't have our president breaking any law that he wants to.
    • Re:47%? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dc29A (636871)
      It is ridiculous that 47% of Americans are not completely up-in-arms about this. We can't have our president breaking any law that he wants to.

      I am actually suprised that only 47% are supporting it. With all the propaganda and "War on Terror" going on having 47% support is pretty damn good, not that I agree with it. It just shows how easily the big masses of people can be influenced by constant "War on Terror" propaganda.
    • The president makes the laws. Therefore, anything he deems to be legal is legal. I think what he is doing is very immoral, but I recall someone saying before that this kind of action is actually allowed by US law. The problem is, many people are brought up to not question authority. If they say it's good for you, then you do it. If they tell you not to do then you don't do it. You don't ask questions about why stuff is the way it is.
      • The president makes the laws.
        Presidents don't make laws. Kings and dictators do.
      • Re:47%? (Score:3, Insightful)


        The president makes the laws. Therefore, anything he deems to be legal is legal.

        Um...are you from America???

        America is (was?) based upon the rule of law. The doctrine of "the King can do no wrong" was exactly why the Founding Fathers fought and died to found this country. The doctrine of "the King can do no wrong" is, coincedentally, exactly what the new King George hopes to secure as his God-given right through the doctrine of the 'unitary executive'.

        Bush must be stopped. If not now, when? If not by us
      • Re:47%? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Smidge204 (605297) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:15PM (#14579213) Journal
        The President is the President, not the Pope. While it has certaintly gone downhill (and continues to do so), we're not quite at the "what the President says is law" stage yet. Laws are made by Congress, and the President can either ratify them or veto them. If he vetos the law, Congress can override him with another vote.

        The problem is exactly as you said: people are brought up to not question authority. What he is trying to do is illegal, but nobody seems to be doing anything about it because they either think it is legal or it is at least justified by the situation (eg: Fightin' ter'ists!!1!)

        As an aside, has anyone else noticed that the people who are most afraid of terrorism are the ones who live where there is the absolute lowest chance of being targeted?

        =Smidge=
        (Ter'ists ter'ists ter'ists 9/11 9/11 mission accomplished!)
      • Re:47%? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sammy baby (14909)
        The president makes the laws. Therefore, anything he deems to be legal is legal.

        I don't mean to poke fun, because there are serious defenders of the current administration who are coming very close to advancing this exact argument. But you know who the last guy to say this [landmarkcases.org] was, right?
    • Re:47%? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gorbachev (512743) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:04PM (#14579106) Homepage
      Why do you find this surprising? The country is divided evenly on everything thanks to decades of polarizing work by political consultants running candidates' campaigns.

      If Bush made breathing illegal, you'd still have 45% of the people support it. People are lemmings.
    • quoting the NYT article,

      In a sign that public opinion about the trade-offs between national security and individual rights is nuanced and remains highly unresolved, responses to questions about the administration's eavesdropping program varied significantly depending on how the questions were worded, underlining the importance of the effort by the White House this week to define the issue on its terms.

      . . .

      respondents overwhelmingly supported e-mail and telephone monitoring directed at "Americans tha

    • Re:47%? (Score:3, Funny)

      by mapmaker (140036)
      Don't forget, 50% of Americans are below average intelligence.
    • Re:47%? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Without interjecting any opinion about wiretapping into this, I would like to say that this poll is questionable. Why? The question. You can pretty much get any answer you want in a poll.
      For example, if you asked Should the government have the absolute right to listen in on calls being made by known al queda members to people in the united states>
      you would get a totally different answer than if you asked
      Should the government be able to listen it to calls being made by anyone remotely suspected of be
  • So . . . (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does this mean that the American public realise the terrorists are winning?

    Does this mean people realize that the reduction of civil liberties are what the terrorists want?
  • by alcmaeon (684971) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:51AM (#14578964)
    Or were the other 53% confused? I would love to see the actual questions that are asked. Giving poll results without the source information is complete nonsense.
    • by TCQuad (537187) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:04PM (#14579109)
      From the supplement:

      After 9/11, President Bush authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls in the U.S. without getting court warrants, saying this was necessary to reduce the threat of terrorism. Do you approve or disapprove of this?

      53% approve, 46% disapprove, 1% no opinion

      After 9/11, George W. Bush authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls in the U.S. without getting court warrants. Do you approve or disapprove of this?

      46% approve, 50% disapprove, 3% no opinion.

      Basically, somewhere around half the country approve, half disapprove and the margin of error are people who are swayed by how the question is asked.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#14578972)

    From TFA:
    In one striking finding, respondents overwhelmingly supported e-mail and telephone monitoring directed at "Americans that the government is suspicious of;" they overwhelmingly opposed the same kind of surveillance if it was aimed at "ordinary Americans."
    Here's the problem...the phrase "Americans that the government is suspicious of", can (and is) defined differently every day. Such vagueness virtually invites a police state.

    Dubya has shown on several occasions that he cannot be trusted to protect our civil rights. That's OK, he doesn't have to be trusted....that's why we have (had?) the FISA, to ensure that wiretapping is carried out in a lawful manner. All George had to do was run his requests through the court, and everything would have been completely legal. Apparently, that's too much trouble for King George, who is aggressively pursuing the doctrine of the unitary executive, believes he is above the law of the land, and regards our Constitution as "just a goddamned piece of paper".

    Trusting George and his Gestapo (that's right, I said it) to safeguard your civil rights is like employing a wild dingo to guard your baby. As of now, "Americans that the government is suspicious of" refers to terror suspects, but it could just as easily refer to foreign-born, dissidents, liberals, or slashdotters.

    It's time to stop King George before he corrupts the dream of the Founding Fathers beyond redemption. It's time to draw a line in the sand and say, "this far....no farther". It's time to take back our country.
    • by kfg (145172) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:59AM (#14579060)
      The problem is that people have lost sight of the essential function of a warrant:

      To have third party look at the evidence and render a judgement on whether or not the "suspicion" is legally justifiable in the first place.

      Otherwise the only difference between an "ordinary American citizen" and somone "the government is suspicious of" is the level of paranoia of the government, not any actual action on the part of the citizen.

      KFG
    • by edunbar93 (141167) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:07PM (#14579127)
      Here's the problem...the phrase "Americans that the government is suspicious of", can (and is) defined differently every day. Such vagueness virtually invites a police state.

      Oh no, it's *much* worse than that. This is the stuff police states are *made* of. It doesn't invite a police state, it *creates* one. Yesterday it was terrorists. Today it's pornographers. Tomorrow it's you. That is, if they aren't already surveilling you because of the pornography, which they probably are.

      And once it's you, then they'll be listening carefully to make sure you don't say anything anti-American, or better yet, something against the government. Because really, there's a *big* difference between being an enemy of the people, and an enemy of the government. Expose a corrupt government for what it is on the 6 o'clock news, and you're an enemy of the government but a hero to the people and the press.
    • by Concern (819622) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:20PM (#14579278) Journal
      Seriously, why is it that so many conservatives don't trust that stupid, evil, wasteful government to run a social program (just give me my taxes back!), but trust them completely and lovingly to tap your phone or imprison you without trial?

      Why are so many patriots so happy to violate the constitution? You can't burn a flag, but you can listen on my phone calls without due process? Why is everyone a constitutional scholar when it comes to guns or free speech, but starts whistling and looking uncomfortable when it's comes to due process?

      Is the world some delicate and beautiful flower that will be crushed by our founding father's foolish "bill of rights?" Are times all that different?

      Has everyone forgotten why we have these laws? We saw the consequences of not having them not that long ago. Most people who saw the civil rights movement and Watergate are still alive today. Collective amnesia?

      What kind of patriot are you, if want the ten commandments in a courthouse, but not the constitution?

      How do you not call yourself a hypocrite, when you impeach a man for lying about his affair, but not a man who admits to violate his oath of office, and the law of the land, and declares he will keep right on doing it?

      FISA hardly ever said no. There's only one reason why they would want to hide their spying from FISA... "terrorists" now include their political enemies.
      • No kidding. Everyone gets all up in arms about the separation of Church and State, willing to take it to the Supreme Court, but when it comes to Constitutional (9th and 10th Amendments) checks and balances on authority then, well, we'll have none of that. According to the authoritarians the 9th and 10th Amendments were obviously written only to assuage those whom they can ridicule as "conspiracy theorists".
      • by Descalzo (898339) on Saturday January 28, 2006 @12:35AM (#14586342) Journal
        Seriously, why is it that so many conservatives don't trust that stupid, evil, wasteful government to run a social program (just give me my taxes back!), but trust them completely and lovingly to tap your phone or imprison you without trial?

        This begs another question: Why is it that so many liberals are willing to completely and lovingly give up their own and others immediate right to enjoy their rights of property (taxes), but fly off the handle when there is any kind of perception of obscure rights-trampling, even in time of war?

        I think your question shows your inability to really look at what conservatives think. People often chalk it up to ignorance, stupidity, or even evil, when that's not the case. In your example, you berade the conservatives for mistrusting the government in one way, but not another, when you mistrust the government in one way, but not another. The conservatives want their rights respected (right of property), but are allowing the government to disrespect the rights of suspected terrorists (right to due process). Allow me to assume you are a liberal. The liberal view would be to disrespect the rights of the conservatives to their property while respecting the rights of the suspected terrorists to due process. You would trample (by degrees) the rights of all to their property, while protecting the rights of some (the suspected terrorists) to their due process.

        I have purposefully misrepresented the issue a little bit (I apologize if I went too far, but if I did, so did you), but I hope I made my point: niether you nor the conservatives are interested in the rights of ALL. Your post simply shows that by your own standards (respecting rights), you are as guilty as those you oppose.

        Now, to answer your question: Seriously, why is it that so many conservatives don't trust that stupid, evil, wasteful government to run a social program (just give me my taxes back!), but trust them completely and lovingly to tap your phone or imprison you without trial?

        Perhaps it is because they see excessive taxation as a direct, constant infringement of their right to property (and the liberty that comes with it), while they see the infringement of the rights of a few (the suspected terrorists) as a necessary sacrifice to ensure the right to life of the citizens of the US.
        Another thing that goes along with this: those who support the illegal wiretapping don't think that it will come back to bite them.

        • Why is it that so many liberals are willing to completely and lovingly give up their own and others immediate right to enjoy their rights of property (taxes),

          A fair enough question.

          The answer is, the last several hundred years.

          You see, the reason taxes and other forms of collective enterprise and wealth redistribution were written into the constitution, but searches without a warrant and imprisonment without trial were not, is that human beings were basically fucking miserable living in the kind of world Li
          • The mistake I made was to assume you were a Liberal. I was attempting to sound as extreme as I did to make a point, not to put forth my philosophies. I asked a question that was grossly unfair (flying off the handle, obscure freedoms) because I thought your question was unfair.

            So let me set the record straight:
            I think President Bush should uphold the law. Even the ones that make his job a little more difficult.
            I am proud to pay taxes.
            I could also do with a little less pride.

            Rereading my post, I did

  • by _am99_ (445916) * on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#14578973)
    The FISA court has a provision that allows court approval to be
    obtained after the fact. This invalidates the "need for speed"
    agrument. The very few times someone in the media has confronted an
    administration offical with this obvious logic, the response has
    always been regression into a vague discription of the current NSA
    program being "another valuable tool", or needing "every tool
    available" to keep the American people safe.

    I have not had the misfortune of having listened to the latest set of
    talking points being pushed. But as far as I can see, there are only
    a few reasons to not use FISA:

    • because FISA leaves records of activity and the administration does not want to be
      held to account for their actions
    • because there is a standard of probable cause that the administration does not feel it can meet


    Either of these motives is an indication of the Bush administration
    feeling that they need to operate outside the law.

    If they really believe in the rule of law, they should move change the
    law to fit the times. If not, they are just showing their contempt
    for the rule of law
    .

    I think the framers of the American Constitution are turning in their
    gaves right now.

    • That's exactly it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Concern (819622) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:08PM (#14579133) Journal
      They basically got everything they wanted in FISA, which is already a very creepy process in many respects from a civil rights point of view. It's a secret court where already many questionable things could be swept under the rug.

      There is no reason at all not to even go through FISA... unless they want to do something truly immoral and illegal.

      This is a heads up to anyone paying attention that Bush's people are off the reservation, and are spying on peolpe other than terrorists - or that their definition of "terrorist" is becoming something that would surprise you.

      And anyone who does not believe politicians (even their favorites) capable of doing something wrong when left unsupervised should have both their head (if you're that gullible, stay in your home where it's safe, and don't answer the door) and their American citizenship (we have a country where checks and balances are the law of the land, period), examined.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#14578979)
    they overwhelmingly opposed the same kind of surveillance if it was aimed at "ordinary Americans."

    Whew. It's a good thing I'm an ordinary American, unlike the rest of you commie techno-freak Slashdotters.
    • by necro81 (917438) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:21PM (#14579296) Journal
      Whew. It's a good thing I'm an ordinary American, unlike the rest of you commie techno-freak Slashdotters.

      While the parent has been moderated up for making a funny statement (and it is), the statement also cuts to the deathly serious nature of what exactly is wrong with the NSA wiretapping program. Few people, myself included, debate that we need as much intel as possible to try and curb future terrorist attacks. I do not debate that there are times when expediency is needed, as provided for in the FISA. While there are surely plenty of persons surveilled with probably cause, who is to say that "ordinary Americans" couldn't be next, with or without probable cause?

      Traditionally, the person to say is the judicial and, to a lesser extent, the legislative branches. But, without the judicial or congressional checks, which this administration has flouted, it the President (along with the attorney general, and others) who has decided. The framers of the constitution were fearful of that kind of unchecked power in the hands of the presidency. I for one am even more skeptical of this presidency.

      President Nixon was forced into resignation for ordering, and subsequently attempting to cover-up, the break-in at the Watergate Hotel (among other abuses, such as bombing Cambodia). That, too, was in some ways a President using his powers to spy on his enemies (in this case, the DNC), and breaking the law to do so. In this case, the president has been given a lot of leeway because the enemies are terrorists - enemies of the state and people. However, I (and numerous legal scholars, and half of Congress to boot) suspect that the President has still broken the law in pursuit of these enemies.

      If Nixon was forced into resignation (lest he be impeached), shouldn't this President at least be under more heat than he currently is receiving? I asking a genuine question: can someone explain to me why more Americans are not up in arms over this?

  • Fear is the key (Score:5, Insightful)

    by faloi (738831) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:53AM (#14578981)
    The government learned a long time ago that a population in fear will put up with a lot. Whether it's fear of a "domino effect" of communism, fear of swine flu, SARS, avian flu, millitias, terrorists, what have you. It's sadly too simplistic to make it a partisan issue, both parties have shown great aptitude in manipulating the population through fear.

    That being said, it's sad that the country is pretty much giving the president a wash on this. But then, nobody said much about the USA PATRIOT act either. We had what, two senators vote against it the first time around?
  • I have no problems with wiretapping. Bush just needs to get authorization and have some oversight. If he would just use the proper channels, this wouldn't even be an issue. Tapping converstions on your own stinks of communism and evil dictatorships.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
  • by meringuoid (568297) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:53AM (#14579000)
    Forty-seven percent of those polled responded they they did not support 'wiretapping in order to reduce the threat of terrorism'."

    Notice that the question isn't about 'wiretapping whomever the president decides he doesn't like' or even about 'wiretapping without appropriate judicial oversight'. It's 'wiretapping in order to reduce the threat of terrorism'.

    So, even with a question that implicitly assumes that the president is telling the truth and that there is no malign intent here, and that actually raises the Terrorist Bogeyman in its wording, STILL nearly half of respondents didn't support it.

    I'm actually feeling quite positive here. Not only are people waking up to the bullshit that's being done in their name, they're seeing through the trick poll questions too...

    • by isa-kuruption (317695) <kuruption&kuruption,net> on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:03PM (#14579099) Homepage
      Actually, if you click the little link for the graphic that actually shows the questions asked, the actual question was:

      After 9/11, President Bush authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls in the U.S. without getting court warrants, saying it was necessary to reduce the threat of terrorism. Do you approve or disapprove of this?


      The only logical conclusion, now, is that the NYTimes are inaccurately reporting their own polls. Heck, they inaccurately report a lot of things, why not their own polls.

      Not to mention, the poll questions do not reflect reality, or at least do not fully represent the actual usage of the wiretaps. The poll question should have been:

      After 9/11, President Bush authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls between the U.S. and specific foreign countries without getting court warrants, saying it was necessary to reduce the threat of terrorism. Do you approve or disapprove of this?


      That would be more accurate, as the truth is that even according to the original NY Times article, this is what the wiretaps were used for. In seems that has graduated to "domestic wiretapping" for the NY Times, Clinto News Network (CNN), etc. It does not represent reality.
  • Just enlist a few members of Al Queda to start dialing wrong numbers. Then the NSA will be too busy tracking down who's who for the program to continue. :-)
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:56AM (#14579032)
    "The telephone poll was conducted with 1,229 adults, starting Friday and ending Wednesday. Its margin of sampling error was plus or minus three percentage points."

    No word as to whether the people taking the poll were being eavesdropped on to find out their responses.
    In fact, noone has heard from any of them since, and no further information is available.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:57AM (#14579036) Homepage
    That "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" coming from an American is naivete at best. Innocence has never been a defense against paranoid "officials." Stalin used to execute people at a whim for political reasons, even if they did everything they could to be good cogs in the machine.

    Bad governments have murdered more people than any other type of institution or any individual combined. It's amazing to me sometimes how so many Bush supporters can talk about tradition while disregarding history and regarding our founders' traditions and advise with open contempt.
  • by rkhalloran (136467) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:00PM (#14579070) Homepage
    The FISA law allows DOJ to get their warrants up to 72 hours *after* the monitoring starts, and approval is almost always given [wikipedia.org].

    I'm all in favor of keeping an eye on the bad guys, but I can't help thinking that they're dodging the law because their evidence is so weak even FISA is calling BS on them.

  • by Tsar (536185) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:02PM (#14579084) Homepage Journal
    Forty-seven percent of those polled responded they they did not support 'wiretapping in order to reduce the threat of terrorism'.

    Plain wrong. The article states, "Fifty-three percent of the respondents said they supported eavesdropping without warrants 'in order to reduce the threat of terrorism.'"

    You may disagree in either case, but at least get the basic facts right.
  • ... rather than a direct democracy.

    Most people do not take the time to thoroughly understand the challenges before their society.

    Arguably this is because they are too busy with immediate gratification, but it is also a byproduct of being worked too hard to worry about anything else. The average joe spends the majority of his time working, raising a family, and trying to enjoy his life.

    Studying issues does not often contribute to an enjoyment of life, and I believe our education system does not adequately t
  • by scheming daemons (101928) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:03PM (#14579095)
    Even when the question is framed in the most positive manner for the President (relating wiretaps to fighting terrorism), nearly half of the population still is against it?

    This is a very encouraging sign.

    What would the numbers have been if the poll was worded this way:

    Are you for or against wiretapping suspected terrorists without a FISA court warrant, even though a warrant can be obtained up to 72 hours after the fact?

    I'm guessing that 47% would grow to at least 2/3.

    The American people are starting to "get it" about this current President. The terrorists would be winning if the public was falling for our fascist government's bullshit ... but the people are, surprisingly, showing that they aren't all willing to part with their cherished civil liberties just because Dubya & Dick flash the boogie-man before our faces every 14 months or so (or whenever they need a poll boost).

    The public is starting to build up immunities to the old "whip them into a frenzy by showing stock footage of Osama and playing an audiotape" routine.

    Good for us.

  • Americans support monitoring Americans "that the government is suspicious of." [nytimes.com]

    Not "has probable cause to search." "Is suspicious of."

    Lesson: Your fellow Americans don't care about your privacy, and trust the feds to decide whether or not to search you (and them), without court review, warrants, probable cause, or anything else. Where's PGPfone when we need it?

  • Party lines (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phishcast (673016) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:04PM (#14579103)
    I wonder where they got their sample of people to respond to this poll. People are so divided along party lines that anyone who pays any attention to the news media would read this question as "Are you for or against the current administration?" or "Do you support Democrats or Republicans?" Not surprisingly about half go one way and half go the other.

    It seems pretty evident to me that there is a large percentage of individuals in the US population that no longer think for themselves. They simply know if they dislike Democrats or they dislike Republicans. On any given issue they will simply spout whatever garbage their side's talking heads have been saying on television or political radio. It's unfortunate because can't hardly have a rational conversation with most people about anything involving politics. I don't want to hear the opinions of Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken regurgitated to me. What do YOU think? It's a truly sad state of affairs.

  • by b17bmbr (608864) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:09PM (#14579155)
    the NSA was intercepting incoming calls from known or suspected terrorists. remember, members of both parties were informed aboit the activities since the program was undertaken, and there was no grave concern expressed then. now, i'm not a lawyer (as I'm sure most of us here aren't either), so I can't comment on the specific legalities. but it was not wiretapping, but international call interception. huge difference. and you know what, he'd better be doing that. if he wasn't, wouldn't his critics have said he wasn't "connecting the dots"?
  • The argument has been made in two ways:

    1. Congress gave us this power (which they didn't, sorry) when they approved going to war against Al Queada, and
    2. If someone from Al Queada is calling, then we want to know about it - and quick!

    However, as another poster pointed out, this latter argument falls apart under the FISA laws which state that you can start a wiretap as long as you go to the courts within 72 hours to get the subpeana. And even at that - it's a secret court! Nobody has to know save for a few people.

    So, why not do it? I'm convinced it's because of 1 of 2 reasons:

    1. They don't care to have people know at all because they don't think that they could get past any kind of judicial review,
    2. They aren't doing specific wire taps, but are scanning and reviewing automatically any phone call from a foreign source.

    A combination of the two is probably in effect. I'm willing to bet that their scanning every call coming in from either specific areas (such as Afganistan) and having the computer start checking it out, then alerting an NSA staff member if something sounds interesting (either through voice recognition or just checking the number - if it looks like one that's been used in the past or might have been used by a suspected terrorist, start tracking it).

    Either way, it's rather troubling. It's not that I don't think that Bush & Co aren't serious about trying to stop terrorism - I think they're serious about it. The issue is that this kind of behavior is always rife for corruption. J. Edgar Hoover used it to stop "communists", but most of the time it was to keep his power base in check with blackmail and intimidation. Nixon tried to use his power to keep his powerbase by spying on the Democrats (aka - Watergate).

    And we're suppose to believe that this power - unchecked and unregulated would only be used for good? What are the odds that someone won't be tempted to listen in on Christian Amanpour's recordings - after all, she talks to Afganistans and middle eastern people all the time, and just happen to listen to her husband's conversations about how to manage the Kerry campaign (or some other ranking Democrat).

    Even if people say they won't, we know that absolute power corrupts. If they want to listen on phone calls, fine - they have a process for that to help keep corruption down. If they want to scan all incoming and outgoing calls from the US to other countries, that's fine as long as they get the laws passed to give them the power to do so and check unbalanced power.

    Otherwise, the temptation to do something bad will be too much for some - it was too much for President Nixon whom, by all accounts, was a pretty good President. Remember, he thought he was doing the right thing by staying in office, and never dreamed that maybe - just maybe - he had taken his powers too far.

    Of course, this is all just my opinion. I could be wrong.
  • Garbage Poll (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JavaLord (680960) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:18PM (#14579252) Journal
    The poll found that 53 percent of Americans approved of Mr. Bush's authorizing eavesdropping without prior court approval "in order to reduce the threat of terrorism"; 46 percent disapproved. When the question was asked stripped of any mention of terrorism, 46 percent of those respondents approved, and 50 percent said they disapproved.

    And there you have the manipulation of statistics to prove a point. Had they ask the question "Do you approve of Mr. Bush's authorizing eavesdropping on terrorists without prior court approval" the numbers would have been even higher in favor of Bush.

    Really, the liberal media needs to stop with the baby crap of calling Bush "Mr. Bush". He's the president, show some respect even if you don't agree with his policies and call him "President Bush". Also, for the love of god, stop calling Bill Clinton "President Clinton". It's former President Clinton, like you do for every other one.
    • "Mr. Bush" (Score:3, Informative)

      It's not a political attack on Bush; the NYT follows the standard of calling politicians "Mr." (or, I assume, "Miss" or "Mrs." or "Ms.") most of the time unless there's some specific reason to identify them by title. Many other, mostly British, papers do the same -- "Mr. Blair," etc. As for "President," there are other stylistic schools which hold that former Presidents never lose the title; thus you'll see not only "President Clinton" but also "President [George H.W.] Bush," "President Carter," "Presiden
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:59PM (#14579754) Homepage
    Let's be clear about something, we are not technically at war with anyone. Did Congress declare war and just forget to tell the rest of us? Oh, the use of force authorization. Was that a declaration of war? Didn't sound like it. And it was focused on Iraq. Where's the declaration of war on terror?

    So Bush is claiming wartime powers but Congress has not officially declared war. The war on terrorism is a symantic construct like the war on drugs, which has been going on my whole life. So how do we know when we won? How do we know the war is over and we can return to a normal level of intrusiveness?

    If Congress doesn't see the fight against terrorism as real war, what is the Bush administration using as justification? We're selling out the qualities that made America a great nation and we're not even clear about the goal. What happens when we're still giving away our liberty but the threat of terrorism is no longer relevant? The government will still be using that excuse 20 years from now. Who do you trust to tell us when the terrorists are beaten down to the point they're no longer a significant threat?

    You trust Rumsfeld? A study commissioned by the Army says the Army is near the breaking point and Rumsfeld says everything is fine. One of them's lying. You trust Bush to tell you?

    Part of the problem is Congress spends most of its time fighting for home district earmarks instead of dealing with the big issues. So instead of declaring war they pass some pussy authorization for the use of force in Iraq that basically turns their decision making authority over to the president with the hope he'll do the right thing. What bullshit.

    And why are conservatives suddenly so gray on matters of law? When Clinton was president you were all pretty black and white about what was legal. But when Bush breaks the law by deciding the FISA court really isn't necessary, all of sudden you're pretty waffly on the whole subject of obeying the law. Fucking hypocrits.

  • by IvyMike (178408) on Friday January 27, 2006 @01:28PM (#14580121)
    The snippet above says 47% do not support 'wiretapping in order to reduce the threat of terrorism'. That's NOT what the actual article says: the word "warrantless" is what's missing. I ABSOLUTELY support wiretapping terrorists, drug dealers, whoever...but get a warrant! It's freakin' EASY, and it's required by the fourth ammendment.

    Even if you trust this president, the unfettered and unchecked power for warrantless wiretaps is the first step towards a dictatorship. Even if Bush doesn't abuse the power, who's to say the next guy, or the guy after him, will show the same restraint? Our founding fathers codified this in the fourth ammendment because they realized the danger such power posed to democracy.

    Does the fourth ammendment make life for law enforcement a little harder? Probably. But so does the entire bill of rights. If the war against terrorism trumpts the fourth ammendment, I don't see why it wouldn't also trump, say, the right to bear arms. Once again, even if warrantless wiretapping might be undertaken with the best of intentions, it's also the first step on the road to dictatorship.
  • Home of the brave? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by talksinmaths (199235) on Friday January 27, 2006 @02:13PM (#14580724) Homepage
    Those that support this surveillance primarily argue that we gain security in the form of protection against future terrorist attacks. I find this assertion to be highly dubious simply because I give the 'bad guys' more credit than to openly discuss their plans in any manner that might not be considered secure. However let's assume for the sake of argument that spying on Americans without warrants does indeed somehow prevent every major terrorist plot in the future. I still wouldn't support it because I'm not willing to trade my liberties for that protection.

    I think that once we allow ourselves to be stripped of a constitutional liberty we're on a slippery slope. Maybe today we're only trying to justify the removal of unreasonable search and seizure. However who's to say that in the future we won't be trying to justify the removal of the right to bear arms or the right to free speech. If we as a country are not strong and brave enough to face the threat of terror without giving up our constitutional rights to do so, then how can we clothe ourselves in the vestiges of patriotism that were borne from those very rights? I used to like to think that I lived in "The land of the free and the home of the brave"; however it's looking more and more like we'd rather live in the land of the secure, and the home of the pragmatic. I don't see how we can possibly consider ourselves brave if we're willing to simply give away our freedoms.

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

Working...