Even By Its Own Ridiculous Metric, The NSA Gets A Failing Grade

from the there's-no-peace-of-mind-when-you-have-no-privacy dept

We just recently wrote about Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, arguing (after admitting that the various NSA bulk surveillance programs haven't been shown to have been useful in stopping any significant terrorism) that the real "metric" by which these surveillance programs should be judged is the "peace of mind" metric. Of course, that's ridiculous on multiple levels, as we discussed in that post. But a bunch of the comments on that post highlighted another point that seemed worth discussing in more detail: if "peace of mind" is the metric by which the NSA's surveillance efforts should be judged, then shouldn't it be a significant issue that most of the public has no peace of mind over the fact that the NSA's surveillance efforts are so sweepingly broad?

Way back in June, when the news of the widespread surveillance first broke, we talked about a clip from This American Life talking to lawyers for prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, who know that their phone lines are tapped, and every one of their phone calls is listened to, no matter who it's with. What was striking about listening to them talk was how this simple act of constant surveillance changed how they acted. It changed how they spoke to people. It changed how they treated friends and family members that they loved. In short, you could tell that these people had no peace of mind at all.

In the meantime, recent research from the Pew Research folks showed that, for the first time ever, more Americans are concerned about the erosion of their civil liberties than of the threat of a terrorist attack. Given that, it would certainly appear that the NSA's mass surveillance programs likely have contributed to significantly less "peace of mind" than they've helped build peace of mind. After all, so far the only thing these programs have successfully "stopped" in the US was one Somalian cab driver in San Diego giving some cash to a terrorist group back in Somalia.

So, really, if we're going to go by the "peace of mind" standard, it seems that there's an even stronger argument for dismantling the NSA's bulk surveillance efforts.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2013 @ 3:12pm

    Peace of Mind

    I sure would like to give them a piece of my mind.









    Oh, I guess I just did...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2013 @ 3:21pm

      Re: Peace of Mind

      NSA here...

      We already have the last few emails and posts of yours...

      We know where you live....

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 15th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    Not cotent with mere re-writes, you now go for re-re-writes.

    I'm not at all sure you even grasp that NSA puts this dreck out as boob bait, anything to distract.

    Let's get back -- ha, ha -- I mean, why don't you START calling for indictments, trial, and JAIL for the criminals, Mike? Instead of lame attempts at a new slant on prior items.

    Let's see. Gotta put a tag line on, plus time stamp and code, because the 13-year old fanboy-trolls of Techdirt are again using my screen name falsely. This goes in about two month cycles, as they believe it annoys me...

    Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items.
    11:52:24[m-705-6]

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 8:31am

      Re: Not cotent with mere re-writes, you now go for re-re-writes.

      ... as they believe it annoys me...


      Based on your reactions, I'd say it does annoy you quite a bit. Which is cool with me since you tend to annoy me pretty much every day.

      It is quite amusing to see you go crying to Mommy...er... I mean Mike to make them stop making fun of you when all you really need to do is register an account. You've already stated that you include your email address when you comment, so making an account wouldn't compromise your anonymity anymore than you've already have.

       

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    Michael, Oct 15th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    the real "metric" by which these surveillance programs should be judged is the "peace of mind" metric

    You have mis-quoted Mr. Clapper. He said "piece of mind". What he is referring to is the yet undiscovered NSA program that is tied to bluetooth headsets and is actually transmitting a piece of each user's mind to their servers. With their careeful and calculated escallation of panic over talking on cell phones while driving, they have managed to get most states to require hands-free devices that can transmit pieces of a person's mind to them whenever it is in their ear (not on, mind you). They are up to tracking of 42% of American's thoughts - that is the number we should be impressed by.

     

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    Atkray (profile), Oct 15th, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    So, really, if we're going to go by the "peace of mind" standard, it seems that there's an even stronger argument for dismantling the NSA.

    FTFY

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2013 @ 6:16pm

    Those figues are not very convincing !

    "Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party strongly disapprove of the NSA program."

    So it's a political motivation that makes these people "decide", it's not actually about the NSA, it's a fact that politics in the US works this way. But you had an election, it's clear, it's mostly because of political leanings that created these results.

    The surveys, do NOT show a 'groundswell' or anything significance.

    Plus it was a survey of 1480 people, how is that even called a survey ??
    What region was the survey conducted ? what demographic ?

    What percentage of the US population is 1480 people ?

    OK, 1480 out of 316,856,000 is what percentage ??

     

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      silverscarcat (profile), Oct 15th, 2013 @ 6:40pm

      Re: Those figues are not very convincing !

      .0004671%

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2013 @ 8:50pm

      Re: Those figues are not very convincing !

      darryl, I can say with certainty that your [sic] figues are not very convincing 100% of the time.

      The world weeps each time an idiot buys a solar panel you've touched.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:15am

        Re: Re: Those figues are not very convincing !

        Then it's a huge shame for you that they are not my 'figures'.

        What were you not convinced about ? the number of people surveyed ? or the population of the US ? or something else.

        Not that I care what you are convinced of or not.
        And don't worry, you might achieve something one day..

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: Those figues are not very convincing !

          Let's put it another way: accurate or otherwise, no one believes the shit that passes through your voicebox.

          That a person of your level of intelligence and verbiage can "achieve" anything indicates the starkly low standards of Australia. Sorry, G Thompson.

           

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    Mike Acker (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 5:43am

    WHAT OBJECTIVE

    NSA probably rates an F for their stated objective. but what is their actual objective? I suspect it is tracking dissidents, and other collateral benefits such as tax-evaders, dead beat parents, or others who can be grabbed and squeezed for cash

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 7:13am

    The sad thing is, this is 100% correct. After learing all the horse-shit that's deemed 'legal' it has 100% changed how I communicate via the web.

     

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    Mia A., Oct 30th, 2013 @ 7:22pm

    Prisoners vs. Citizens

    We are forgetting that PRISONERS' phone calls are being recorded. These prisoners are the exact same people who went against the purpose of the NSA: to protect the civilians by gaining a decision advantage on the nation and the allies. These criminals broke the laws and harmed other civilians. These prisoners were the cause of the disturbed peace of mind in their home country. Therefore, it is only natural for their further calls to be recorded, and yes, this will result in a behavior change.

     

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