Public Outlook Shifts: More Worried About Gov't Stomping On Civil Liberties Than Terrorism

from the about-time dept

We’ve already noted that the tide has shifted in Congress, such that the NSA’s surveillance activities are almost certainly going to be at least somewhat restricted. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the public realizing just how screwed up things are. As Glenn Greenwald notes, PewResearch’s latest polls show that, for the very first time, Americans are more concerned about the loss of civil liberties than they are about terrorism.

“Overall, 47% say their greater concern about government anti-terrorism policies is that they have gone too far in restricting the average person’s civil liberties, while 35% say they are more concerned that policies have not gone far enough to protect the country. This is the first time in Pew Research polling that more have expressed concern over civil liberties than protection from terrorism since the question was first asked in 2004.”

The fear-mongering and FUD about “terrorism!” at every turn seems to have served the government well for over a decade in eroding civil liberties — but it looks like the Snowden revelations about what the government is really doing is finally shifting things back in the other direction. It’s about time.

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Comments on “Public Outlook Shifts: More Worried About Gov't Stomping On Civil Liberties Than Terrorism”

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Anonymous Coward says:

yes, it is about time! think back people, to how it was during ‘The Cold War’ and the ‘reds under every bed’ days. what good did any of that do? what good came out of it? all that happened was a hell of a lot of totally innocent people went through hell, for no other reason than to satisfy the warped opinions of a very small number of over-powered government officials, that were more concerned with being able to tell whoever was at the top of the political tree what they had accomplished (nothing of any use!), how many lives they had screwed, than actually proving anything nefarious going on and stopping it! those shameful days are back again, this time, so it appears, with a vengeance unlike anything before seen. the days are very close again to hearing cars screech to a stop outside and people running to apprehend the ‘criminals’. how can anyone hate people so much? would it not be better for humanity to live alone, isolated, than want to remove everyone from around you?

out of the closet says:

Re: Re:

“What do these people want? Cavity searches to leave one’s home?”

I don’t know if that will make me feel safe but it sure would make me feel good!

Police with automatic rifles in riot gear on every corner, that would make me feel safe in this police state because I could quit fearing it will happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They want to sit on their ass and have someone else provide their food, shelter, clothing and security so they can post on Facebook about the latest celebrity scandals.
They are too busy to concern themselves with the critical thinking skills needed to realize that terrorists are not even a threat to be concerned about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Though that video does bring up the question of why aren’t there any African American cops. Sure they have some Hispanic cops, I suppose they need translators, but the only areas with African American cops are ares like Compton. Clearly those cops are qualified to be cops and I’m sure they could find some cops willing to work in a nice neighborhood like Manhattan Beach or whatnot. and the Anglo-American cops working in the poorer neighborhoods probably live in a nice neighborhood, though I’m not necessarily against cops living in a different neighborhood than they work for safety purposes and because it can potentially reduce conflicts of interests (ie: a cop may either like or dislike a neighbor or have a friend that lives nearby their house and they may discriminate based on that). but I do think the fact that there are very few African American cops working in nice neighborhoods or even mediocre neighborhoods suggests discrimination and that should be looked into (on the other hand sometimes I think affirmative action can go too far in the opposite direction as well).

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I like to compare to the risk of dying in a car accident. In the US, the odds that you’ll die in a traffic accident at some point are 1 in 84. That’s astoundingly high odds, and yet very few people are shaking in their boots when they get into a car.

The odds that you’ll die in a terrorist attack are 1 in 20,000,000. But that’s what we completely lose our collective shit over. It’s mind-bogglingly insane.

Just for fun, the odds that you’ll die due to a shark attack are 1 in 60,453. That’s over 330 times more likely than terrorism.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The odds that you’ll die in a terrorist attack are 1 in 20,000,000. But that’s what we completely lose our collective shit over. It’s mind-bogglingly insane.

Here are some more. For example, you’re nine times more likely to die by choking on your own vomit than from a terrorist attack. Where is all the funding for vomit choking protection? Hornets, bees, or wasps are far more likely to kill you than terrorists.

nasch (profile) says:


We’ve already noted that the tide has shifted in Congress, such that the NSA’s surveillance activities are almost certainly going to be at least somewhat restricted.

Well… even if Congress were to pass laws restricting their activities, they already weren’t doing what the last law allowed them to, so really it’s not clear what effect that would have. That is really depressing to contemplate.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Public and Congressional opinion swings are only the cultural waves and tides upon the ocean of societal opinion. They wash in and out with timely shifts in level but rarely vary away from predictable behavioral patterns. Do the US voters and congressional members recognize a paradigm shift or is this just another wave or tide of popular opinion? What are some of the justifications of such a shift and possibly what and how can any change be articulated?

The intelligence gathering ramp up before the Snowden revelations/whistle-blowing has become quite the profitable business. The rampant NSA/Government-spying-agencies use of National Security Letters explains the silence of the computer/Internet/cellular/phone/etc tech industries. Its likely that most of the CEO’s, and other execs in the know, felt that their tongues and hands were tied by the gag orders included in each letter.

Now that the NSA Schroedinger security cat is revealed it is hopefully measured as completely and entirely dead. (sic) Will the mostly silent tech firms now find a new political voice for being, as it were, taken advantage of? Who knows.

The habits of Congress the House and Public are hard to change given the, normally huge, political flywheel effect. When changed do occur its drastic and wholesale in nature. The Amash amendment narrowly voted down in the House was a good first effort but its relatively weak wording full of weasel wording that would likely be expanded on in the subsequent Senate debates. New public poles showing a marked trend of worrying more about government spying than terrorism might also be significant.

Maybe a further shift in Congressional attitude is a result of Mr. Alexander’s lobbying technique: Such a supposed joke has just got to piss of anyone who even remembers, or read in history about, the McCarthy era of the Cold War. Breathing down ones neck so to speak is intimidating no matter how humorously phrased. Unspoken would be… how much else other than their phone number does he know about?

It does mark a significant point in that its nice to actually listen and consider actual reductions in current industrial/military/government security paranoia. Since this paranoia seems to be harming the actual people employing them (citizens and industry alike) its gotten way, way out of hand. So our of control that it now seems to be ?biting the hands that feeds?. Greed, Power and Control only go so far.

Its normal that the American public wakes up every 40 or so years and intervenes in some huge corruption/injustice (civil rights, banking or trade scandal) or squashes a monopoly (ATT, Oil and Railroads) or three. This time the injustice is larger than usual and encompasses the entirety of the Constitution itself. (Question: Are the B and A parties considered monopolies?)

In some horrible nightmare all the, ‘oft shoo shooed by government lobbying groups and industry, ?conspiracy theories? are becoming true or at least undeniable. The shock is enough to temporarily paralyze even the most stoic of analysts let alone the average citizen. There is just way to much conspiracy theory out there to sort out immediately. (and thats already disregarding UFO’s, Aliens and Ghosts.)

Its is a common theme in every totalitarian country that they spy upon the very industries that provide their own tax sustenance. In those contries each firms greatest fear was not forgein industrial spies but domestic government spying. It seems just like police are sometimes found to confiscate drugs and sell them on their own… (or raid drug housed with their buddies on their spare time) Spies do the same with their industrial intelligence gathered in their own countries. Sound harsh? Yes it is. Its extremely common that international spy agencies share data in some bizarre form of back scratching culture.

Its so common that in China its become a fable. Spoken is the concept that no matter how great or skilled a craftsman becomes they should never, ever create something perfect (or even close). Perfection draws the attention of emperors and empresses and such a focus of higher powers is rarely survivable in a corrupt state. Since the US is becoming renowned for its industrial/commercial/governmental corruption this might be a serious concern.

There some, possibly many, who claim that there is no problem, nothing to see please move along? Motivation of questionable decisions and activities always raise the flag of suspicion. What do these people have to gain? Follow the money;

Large campaign donations, friends or family business connections and other more hidden and scandalous things might be easily revealed since most of the time their is tacit approval for such obvious, and easily fallen into, corruption. Such, known by insider(s), corruption is often used as a tool/leverage/blackmail by other, even more corrupt, politicians/office-holders/bureaucrats.

Its early to say which way because any change will require a concerted and coordinated attack on all the ways that personal property, liberties and freedoms are being affronted. Privacy is just the latest of the dominoes to fall. Three fallen/falling dominoes of freedom and liberty follow;

The extremely failed (in every way; Societal, economic, moral, policy, Constitutional, etc.) war on drugs took away many property rights, prescription medication purchasing rights, traveling privacy rights and more. The only benefit was to be able to lock up hippies that were not going to vote for party A or B. (Please read up on the psychopathic-like president Nixon and Watergate if you have the time.) When police/DEA/other have the ability (not a right thats for sure) to confiscate, keep and spend any amount of money for any whim of a suspicion this cannot be good.

In the past 10 years copyright (-monopoly) has been criminalize and has possibly become the new tool of choice to harass the ?officially? unwelcome cultural groups in society. Copyright-Porn Trolling is a good example of one part of society. The crucifying of some (fill in the blank) publicly shamed group by allowing unscrupulous lawyers to sue them into poverty or even jail is the modern witch hunt of the new century. No good can come of this and the louder that media firms decry its benefits the more harm and damage its likely doing.

Since the 1960’s it seems the official ?unwelcome cultural group? is been expanded from just racially based societal crimes so that now any industry, that has enough donations to lobby congress, is allowed to participate in this, real societal and cultural, injustice. When government allows any well enough financed industry to ?feed upon our own? its hard to see any societal benefit whatsoever. (Cotton industry, Sugar industry, Coffee industry, Oil, Steel… on and on)

Many times have laws been used unequally and unfairly. Most of the time its called ?profiling.? Just ask any colored male driving in a car with three other of his male friends says about that. (instant drug suspect pullover in large/medium sized city.)

Today we have recently uncovered a secret campaign to rid us of even our smallest privacies. The NSA/other spying scandals are shocking in the extent that now its likely that any evil or crime by government is imaginable.

Since its possible that even if the activities of theNSA/others are declared illegal they will break the law and continue their wayward ways anyway. The only way is to defund. Drastic draconian defunding will help to close the new, huge waste of government funds, data storage center in the southwest and the like.

Its also likely these people/firms/agencies responsible for promoting/running such constitutionally questionable programs will have similarly hugely demoted egos and will be loudly defensive if not dangerously reactive. Keep in mind that they are already doing questionable activities. Can one imagine the unemployed spies/data-trollers picketing out front of the NSA and White House chanting slogans while waving signs ?hooray for our side?. (?Sign, sign. Everywhere a sign?)

New laws probably wont stop the NSA/FBI/CIA/others from spying as once a group is corrupted its difficult to root out. Empowering the telcos, tech and Internet firms with legal tools and incentives to throw out the spying sons of bitches on their asses would be nice. If this is paired up with congressional defunding efforts, transparency of the FISA court and more, they wont be able to do much about it.

Its probably a good thing when overzealous government agencies/politicians/officials whine about not having enough power. As China has shown the way to steal their citizens freedoms through using industry policing we can win ours back the same way.

The question hanging is; Which way will this shift flow? A stronger backbone for congressional members or NSA back supports issued for all?


Liz; ?That’s OK. A lot of U.S. politicians don’t care about 47% of Americans anyway.? So true in so many examples. When the drug laws were passed the majority was only just over 50% approval and it was passed like WHAM-BAM. (lots of controversial polling methods just like today too.) The only beneficiaries of the drug laws were more police employment and the prison industry. Not one single nonviolent offender benefited from being fined or thrown in jail.

arcan; ?i wonder how long until they combine but.. but… terrorism with FOR THE CHILDREN!!!? They already have:

Digger says:

100% of US CItizens have been violated by the Government ABC entities

That’s right, 100% – whether or not you feel violated, you have been.

The NSA (stealing/capturing every piece of data on U.S. Citizens), the CIA (investigating domestically), the FBI (funding/planning terrorist plots just so they can inflate their counter-terrorism numbers), Homeland Security – (enforcing corporate wet dreams) – and not a single – not ONE single real terrorist plot foiled.

Each of these agencies need to be stripped to the bone, the cruft, the waste, the faulty management and directors sent away for life, if not put in front of firing squads for the TREASON they have committed.

Where are the U.S. Armed Forces that swore to uphold the constitution that all of these Agencies are trampling over? They should be holding guns, tanks, bombers over these agencies until they come back into alignment with the constitution.

The current congress that has allowed these TREASONOUS acts to perpetuate, the courts that have endorsed these TREASONOUS acts all need to be sent away or put before the firing squad.

Right now, the government is about itself and corporations – it’s no longer about us, the people – the real people that the nation was founded to protect.

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