Ok, so it’s a Pew Research Center poll. We’ll take it with a grain of salt. But would it really be all that surprising to find out that most people in our country are just fine with our government listening in on our phone call conversations? After all, this nation did elect Barack Obama (if you trust the voting machines), and people actually believed he was going to bring us all hope and change. And transparency. Sure, things have definitely changed. For the worse. And as for transparency, that’s traitorous in this day and age.
The poll, which surveyed a little over a 1,000 people, found that 56% thought the NSA’s phone call surveillance policies were acceptable, while 41% thought they were unacceptable. Sixty-two percent thought it was “more important for the government to investigate possible terror threats even if there is a tradeoff with personal privacy,” while 34% said that “privacy should be a priority, even if it inhibits terror investigations.”
Regarding email monitoring, 52% were opposed, and 45% were in favor of the government keeping track of everyone’s email messages as long as it prevents terrorism.
I think that’s where the problem with this poll is. The questions kept referring to preventing terrorism. In general, maybe most people would be opposed to the idea of our government violating everyone’s 4th Amendment liberties as a matter of policy. But when they slap on the “in order to prevent terrorism” bit, people change their mind. “Well, if it’s really about preventing terrorism, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.” Is it really about preventing terrorism though?
The FBI likes to flaunt its track record of “preventing” terrorist attacks. They say they’ve thwarted about 20 such incidents in the last decade. What they don’t like to mention is that the vast majority of those 20 were planned by the FBI, only to be “thwarted” at the last minute. They help young, naïve Muslim kids carry out attacks against this country and then when the kid pulls the trigger that is connected to an inert explosive, they arrest him for terrorism. Then, they can brag about another terrorist attack thwarted.
What they also don’t like to mention is that 3 of those 20 were prevented not by the FBI or NSA intelligence, but by observant citizens who alerted law enforcement. Are they really trying to prevent terrorist attacks or to justify their existence?
It seems as if the NSA is really about preventing terrorist attacks, they would have been able to prevent the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber and the Times Square bomber from carrying out their attacks before citizens alerted law enforcement. And as for the other 17 plots, those don’t really count since the feds plotted those themselves. And as many others have noted, NSA surveillance didn’t prevent the Boston bombings.
Even on a pragmatic level, the NSA’s PRISM doesn’t work to prevent terrorism, and the million-square-foot NSA facility in Utah that’s storing every American’s digital life is a colossal waste of money. But maybe by the time every single aspect of our life is recorded, monitored and stored somewhere, most Americans would have learned to love Big Brother.