Less Than 20% Of Americans Believe That There's Adequate Oversight Of The NSA

from the that-story's-not-working dept

One of the key responses from the NSA and its defenders to all of these Snowden leaks is that there is "rigorous oversight" of the NSA by the courts and Congress. Of course, that talking point has been debunked thoroughly, but NSA defenders keep trotting it out. It appears that the public is not buying it. At all. A recent poll from YouGov found that only 17% of people believe that Congress provides "adequate oversight" on the spying of Americans. A marginally better 20% (though, within the 4.6% margin of error, so meaningless difference really) felt that Congress provides adequate oversight of the NSA when it comes to collecting data on foreigners. Basically, that part of the NSA story just isn't particularly believable in light of everything that's come out. Oh, and people are paying attention to the news. A full 87% had heard something about the spying on foreign countries -- with only 14% thinking that such a program has helped US interests abroad.

Oh, and it gets worse. According to a different study, the more informed people are about the NSA, the less they like what the NSA is doing. The NSA has been insisting if people could only understand more about its actions they'd be much more comfortable with the agency's actions, but this study suggests that's not quite true either.

Neither of these findings should come as a shock to most people outside of the NSA, but for our friends over at the NSA reading this, it would appear that your talking points aren't working. Perhaps, next time, try (1) telling the truth and (2) not trampling all over the Constitution.


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    So long as the 1% Rich believe, nothing will change.


    The solution for most societal ills is HIGH INCOME TAX RATES. -- WAGES should not be taxed at all! Income originally meant unearned income.

    The freedoms you take for granted today were death penalty treason in 1776. Don't let the Inherited Rich restore feudalism. Pull them down with high taxes on unearned income -- and ZERO taxes on wages, they HATE that!

    07:58:27[i-365-0]
    I'll soon have enough taglines to handle most Techdirt pieces.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    davebarnes (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Grammar Nazi Alert

    Fewer, not less
    Fewer than 20%

     

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  3.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Something to hide

    Given the fact that we've had to pry every single bit of information from the NSA that doesn't come from the Snowden documents and they've been more evasive than a politician in the middle of a sex scandal in telling us anything of substance other than regurgitating their already-debunked talking points. I mean, we really haven't actually been told much about their actions that would make us understand what the agency's doing, let alone why they're doing it (at least, nothing more informative than a condescending, parent-like "because we know what's best for you", or just effectively "because").

    Sure, maybe the tech world, the Internet, and at least 53% of Americans polled in that YouGov survey don't really know what's going on inside the NSA. Maybe they are doing things for good, altruistic reasons (even if all current evidence points to the contrary).

    However, considering all the negative information we do know, everything pretty much points to the NSA having "something to hide".

    Hmm.... that "something to hide" is probably the NSA itself, now that I think about it. They kinda seem content to hide in the background and let the CIA be the public face of the American intelligence community, at least as far as the average ignorant American citizen's knowledge of US spy agencies are concerned.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re: So long as the 1% Rich believe, nothing will change.

    Eat the rich

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    the best thing about the NSA spying is that at least our politicians, in the main, are against it and are in the process of doing something about it, even though the success of which remains to be seen. in the UK, who has been as guilty of spying as the USA, there is no 'Constitution' to go against and therefore no new laws being introduced to combat the spying, which all their agencies have protested their innocence as far as breaking the law is concerned. although all i think will happen in the USA is that the spying will continue unabated but more hidden from prying eyes and any time politicians call for reviews it will be more hidden, in the UK there will be no change at all. even the latest reveal concerning LinkedIn and Slashdot have been poo pooed off. they know now that customers are going to be very wary if they continue to use the services but dont give a flyin' fuck about the business effects! this is another of the 'i will do what i want. if it screws you, tough shit!' attitudes that the agencies dont care about. the fact that they have 'hijacked' a service is irrelevant to them and to those who are supposed to be carrying out the 'oversight'. as for the 'investigation' chaired by Rifkin, what a farce and an insult to the public that was!!

     

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  6.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re: So long as the 1% Rich believe, nothing will change.

    I'll soon have enough taglines to handle most Techdirt pieces.


    Whatever. Your "taglines" are as full of shit as the bodies of your comments.

    I notice that you STILL haven't answered my questions concerning the specifics of your "tax the rich" notions. At this point it's reasonable to assume that you don't have any answers and your "tax the hell out of the Rich" is simply an empty rallying cry.

    You are worse than a politician really. When a politician spouts an empty rallying cry that lacks any substance it has a purpose, at least. They are trying to get elected. I have no clue why you do it.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Grammar Nazi Alert

    I'm pretty sure if you said "fewer people than 20% of the population" you would be correct. But in this case you are technically referring one number that is less than another number so I'm pretty sure saying "less than 20% of people" is grammatically correct.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    Re: So long as the 1% Rich believe, nothing will change.

    "The freedoms you take for granted today were death penalty treason in 1776."

    Copyright infringement was once punishable by death. In fact, it still is in North Korea. Don't know why I brought that up, maybe I was channelling you and going completely off-topic.

    "I'll soon have enough taglines to handle most Techdirt pieces."

    Do you actually feel proud about that?

     

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  9.  
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    Jasmine Charter, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    The other 20%

    The other 20% were too afraid that the NSA was listening to give a truthful answer!

     

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    Watchit (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    I'm surprised even 17% think that!

     

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  11.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    If I had to guess...

    We've seen a lot of changes in government policy lately, and I don't think it's a coincidence that it's happening right now. Our country is in decline. I'm not saying that in the grumpy sense of "things were better back when XYZ," but in an absolute, objective, verifiable sense.

    Consumer spending drives around 70% of the economy, and almost 1/3 of the US population is the Baby Boom generation. For the last half century and more, for all intents and purposes, the Boomers have been the US economy. And now that they're reaching and approaching retirement age in massive numbers, they've switched from driving the economy to dragging it down. This means that our country is objectively in decline and will continue to be in decline until the majority of boomers die off.

    The problem is, barring sudden and miraculous advances in certain highly specialized fields of medical research, there is nothing anyone can do to keep this from happening. (Other than getting it over with quickly by taking a page directly from the playbook of Nazi Germany, of course, but that's not an idea anyone's going to consider seriously. I hope.)

    The problem is, no one is talking about this, so we see all sorts of seemingly-unrelated things breaking down, and without understanding the common thread, it just looks more and more confusing. But when you look at the Baby Boom generation at the center of it all, it becomes a lot clearer.

    What I see when I look at the big picture is a government desperately trying to keep a lid on the situation, because when you look at all sorts of basic societal factors in the USA, you see the same overall picture as the last time a major generation began to withdraw from the economy, back in the 1930s, and we all know how enormous of a mess that turned into. And how it ended: the US wasn't the only country affected by the great population crunches that precipitated the Great Depression, and the economic problems led directly to World War II. (Which led directly to the Baby Boom...)

    Yes, a lot of the things that various governments and corporations are doing today are ugly. But I think we can all agree that they're a lot less ugly than a second Great Depression, culminating in World War III. It's interesting what a difference a broader perspective can make.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 1:47pm

    20%? I'm gonna have to call bullshit on that one because there is no way in hell it could be that high.

    I don't know a single person that supports the NSA.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    Cautious with that "study"

    The Washington Post takes precautions on it and for good reasons:

    1. The "knowledge" getting tested are very simple, yes/no propositions, making its result blurred by "random correct answers". That effect is not gonna do much in this context though, but it may have other unintended consequences.

    2. The Washington Post makes an effort to explain why correlation isn't necessary causation in this instance since those disliking NSA to begin with may be more inclined to inform themself on the trivia tested. The OP, Amy Zegard argues that it is likely to be a small minority who takes the entrenched opposition.

    3. The polls were done during october 2013. By that time "spygate" has been rolling for months even hitting mainstream from time to time. People wanting to know more about NSA on that account will have a negative image to begin with and the trivia is very unlikely to change that premise. Amy Zegard attributes it to people not feeling any connection in the programs and their "results"/justifications. They now know "what" the programs do, but not "why" the programs exist.

    Please be aware that the Washington Post article is not the original source. It is here:
    http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/11/real-spies-fake-spies-nsa-and-more-what-my-2012-and-2013-nat ional-polls-reveal/#.UnuA2rxgOQg.twitter

     

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  14.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 2:09pm

    Re:

    Try Imgur, you'll find LOTS of people who say that Snowden's a traitor and should have kept his mouth shut even though he saw that the NSA was violating the constitution.

    And try to refute that, and you'll be called an "idiot".

    "I served in the military for 11 years, all I see on Imgur is you bitching and talking about video games, your opinion doesn't matter." - Actual response to me.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

    Re: If I had to guess...

    Bullshit on the boomers dragging it down.

    You wanna know the real problem? It's the economy stupid. If people were getting a living wage, taxes would be paid along with everything else.

    I doubt you were crying about the boomers when you were getting the advantage of any government programs funded by what they were paying in taxes either as a child or as enjoying little things like maybe say a play ground paid for with tax money, eh? Now things aren't quite going your way suddenly it's the boomers fault.

    Let me break it to you easily. There was enough funds in social security to fund their retirements. Only the politicians of the time wanted that money since they had drained everything for the Vietnam War. It wasn't the boomers that spent the money. Crap they've been doing that since Johnson was president and continue to do it today. Only problem now is that it's time to pay the piper and they've already spent the money.

    Grow some nuts and understand you have to work for what you get, just like everyone else, including the boomers had to.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: If I had to guess...

    Well said.

     

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  17.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re: If I had to guess...

    You wanna know the real problem? It's the economy stupid.


    I'm not sure why you think this contradicts what I said.

    If people were getting a living wage, taxes would be paid along with everything else.


    Two problems with that. First, the largest segment of the population, the one that's been driving the economy for half a century now, is moving out of the wage-earners group, and they're large enough that even paying a higher wage to those who are left is not going to offset it.

    Second, forcing businesses to pay a higher wage is counterproductive more often than not, because their first priority isn't treating workers well; it's padding the bottom line. They make up for it by either cutting labor or raising prices. (Or both.) That problem could be solved by additional regulations requiring business to not make up their losses in these ways, but that would very likely have some really ugly unforeseen consequences in other areas.

    I doubt you were crying about the boomers when you were getting the advantage of any government programs funded by what they were paying in taxes either as a child or as enjoying little things like maybe say a play ground paid for with tax money, eh? Now things aren't quite going your way suddenly it's the boomers fault.


    You know nothing about my childhood. If you did, you'd have some idea just how much of an idiot that statement makes you sound like. And yes, when a huge generation irresponsibly racks up massive debts for decades, living well beyond their means, so they can live large, and then expects me to pay it off, it's hard to imagine any sane definition of "fault" that excludes them.

    Let me break it to you easily. There was enough funds in social security to fund their retirements. Only the politicians of the time wanted that money since they had drained everything for the Vietnam War. It wasn't the boomers that spent the money. Crap they've been doing that since Johnson was president and continue to do it today. Only problem now is that it's time to pay the piper and they've already spent the money.


    Yes, politicians spent the money. But where did that money go? Who did it benefit? (Hint: who's been the largest voting demographic ever since the 1970s? Who's been putting those politicians into office?)

    Grow some nuts and understand you have to work for what you get, just like everyone else, including the boomers had to.


    I don't quite see how anything I've said can be construed as "I'm not working for what I get." I've got a solid, stable job and have for years, doing exactly that.

    But I'm a bit curious as to why you seem to think that the boomers worked for what they got. Did you sleep through the entirety of the 90s and the 2000s? Most of what they got, they got on debt, which by definition is stuff that you have not yet earned by working for. And then the piper came calling in 2008, and the rest is history...

     

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  18.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: If I had to guess...

     

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  19.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: If I had to guess...

    As humorous as those are--particularly the second one--I'm not (principally) talking about the habits of the baby boom generation. I'm talking about the simple, fundamental underlying reality of demographics.

    The group that comprises by far the largest percentage of the American population has now reached the phase in their lives when they are turning from net contributors to the economy to net leeches upon it. Barring massive unforeseen population shifts, (plague, nuclear war, etc,) this is going to be the most powerful fundamental force affecting our economy, and thus the course of our nation, until most of them have died off.

    That is what I am saying.

     

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  20.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re:

    That's what's called 'being overtrained'.

    When a person spends so long being told that you must always obey those in authority, that those in authority are always right, and that you must never question those in authority... is it any wonder they have such hatred for someone who held his loyalty to the country higher than the government running it?

     

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  21.  
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    Reality Check (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 5:47pm

    Re: So long as the 1% Rich believe, nothing will change.

    The first part of your post was comprehensible for a change. But like most of your posts, completely unrelated to the original topic. I think I can detect a tenuous glimmer where you tried to tie the two subjects together in the title, but not successfully.

    Have you thought about making your own blog, where you rant about google and the internet, and alternate between supporting government monopolies for the rich, and denigrating the same rich?

    I'd follow it for the occasional interesting theory like the one just proposed, and the random nonsense the rest of the time.

     

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  22.  
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    Jay (profile), Nov 11th, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: So long as the 1% Rich believe, nothing will change.

    I actually HATE to substantiate his arguments, but he does have a point.

    There are two things that can happen with the austerity we're seeing now. One is that we can tax the richest people, who are going to try to hide their money as much as they can in offshore bank accounts and whatnot.

    The other thing we can do is borrow the money from the rich, which has to be paid back in interest.

    Let's remember that higher taxation on the wealthiest Americans would help our deficit by forcing the rich to pay their fair share. I recall that corporations pay 0% in taxes through all of the loopholes when they buy politicians to lobby for the loopholes and launder corruption.

    So yes, we need a 100% tax rate for the richest Americans. IE, a maximum income. The government then uses that money for job creation, road repairment, and other needs. FDR did that in 1932 thanks to pressure on him from grassroots activism.

    If we borrow the money, we have to pay the loan to people that haven't paid their fair share. It's a great shell game, but it causes the very same problems that came with the 2007 crash.

    So it comes down to which we should do... Tax or borrow?

    I vote for taxation.

     

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  23.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 12:18am

    Re: Cautious with that "study"

    That isn't the main study this post was about. I just noted that it further supports the conclusion of the main study.

     

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  24.  
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    Jim Anderson, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 6:32am

    Good Agiprop

    I think the powers that be have been successful in deflecting their role in the NSA spying. The NSA is not out of control. The President and at least some members of Congress know and support the NSA and it's current role. So if your looking for the responsible parties you can find them in the White House and on Capitol Hill. They should be held responsible for both their actions and their inaction. Elections can be very useful in calling to account those who by their actions and inaction have brought us to this point.

     

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  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re: Good Agiprop

    The NSA is not out of control. The President and at least some members of Congress know and support the NSA and it's current role.


    The NSA is out of control. I agree that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches have been complicit in this and should be held accountable, but that doesn't mean they're not out of control.

    Elections can be very useful in calling to account those who by their actions and inaction have brought us to this point.


    God, how I wish this were true. But I don't think it actually is. The problem is systemic, so for the most part who is elected doesn't really impact it that much.

     

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  26.  
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    Brazenly Anonymous, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: Good Agiprop

    God, how I wish this were true. But I don't think it actually is. The problem is systemic, so for the most part who is elected doesn't really impact it that much.


    The whole purpose of the elected body is to make what changes are necessary to the system. If you have no faith that they are able to do so, then you essentially hold the belief that our government is illegitimate. So, how do you intend to fix that? (some ideas to serve as inspiration follow)

    -Create a new third party and hype it as much as possible hoping the major parties will incorporate its agenda to gain votes.

    -Cast a vote of no confidence (I suggest the wording "Persona non existere" literally, "no person stands out") to point out the lack of legitimacy and pressure the politicians to fix things with the soft threat of revolutionary action.

    -Coordinating protests and flash mobs.

    -Civil disobedience in the form of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement, licensing, taxes and all other branches of government influence (this will cost you jail time).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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