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Most Americans Support NSA's Efforts

Yesterday I commented on USA Today's article that revealed leaked information about NSA's phone data program. I said I was unimpressed with the article's attempt to make hay out of a necessary and legal program that is effective in protecting our country from potential terrorist attacks.

It seems I'm not alone in my view. The Washington Post has an article today that says most Americans understand what the NSA is doing with this program and support it.

A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.


The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.

A slightly larger majority--66 percent--said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.

Underlying those views is the belief that the need to investigate terrorism outweighs privacy concerns. According to the poll, 65 percent of those interviewed said it was more important to investigate potential terrorist threats "even if it intrudes on privacy." Three in 10--31 percent--said it was more important for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.

Half--51 percent--approved of the way President Bush was handling privacy matters.

USA Today tried very hard to get the American people riled up with this shocking headline splashed across its front page: NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls.

The American people read the article about the NSA's efforts and responded: go to it.


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Comments (34)

Tis much ado about nothing.... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Tis much ado about nothing. Same records can be purchased form the phone company at their descretion by anyone. Marketing companies do it all the time. It's where a large portion of telemarketing campigns get their call lists from.

Everyone sees it in the mov... (Below threshold)
RICH:

Everyone sees it in the movies and shows when the cops check the phone records to get the bad guys. This is pretty much the same thing. Seems the only people with a real problem about this are the ones with an axe to grind concerning the Bush Administration. It is interesting that so many are yelling about this breaking the law....yet those same are yelling about amnesty for the immigrants.

Rich

This is pretty much the sam... (Below threshold)
LOL WIZPAIN:

This is pretty much the same thing. Seems the only people with a real problem about this are the ones with an axe to grind concerning the Bush Administration. It is interesting that so many are yelling about this breaking the law....yet those same are yelling about amnesty for the immigrants.


How in the HELL do you guys always manage to connect DOTS that don't exist?
Bush pulled a Nixon. Period.
Amnesty was one of Bushs Ideas Remember?
He didn't want to even fingerprint them?
Bush Approval is 29%
SO anyone that Criticizes an incompetent President is automatically a Liberal?

Bush's Coming Amnesty Plan
The Bush administration's plan to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens would ... The Bush White House then intends to ram its amnesty plan through ...
www.stoptheftaa.org/artman/publish/article_91.shtml

according to the Poll 63% were not against it.

WTF are you guys doing?
You make the WEIRDEST connections I have ever seen, as USUAL they are EASY to shoot Down.
I just don't have enough time to go to all these blogs and correct your FLUFF PUFF 'Wacko' Journalism. I would think Evagelicals would be more truthful in their reporting?
Your as Bad as FAUX news

I have pointed you to the m... (Below threshold)
LOL WIZPAIN:

I have pointed you to the menwith hill and SIGINT sites many times, I have spoken of ABLE DANGER
months ago.

Echelon, Carnivore, magic lantern, D.I.R.T., plus numerous, dozens of SIGINT ELINT COMINT
and the NORTHCOM have existed BEFORE BUSH.

HE IS NOT TRAINED IN SIGINT ALGORITHMS
NOR IN SIGNALS INTELLIGENCE.

Wake up and read my posts, instead of deleting them READ THEM.
Otherly YOU GUYS NEVER LINK TO ANY DATA
WTF???? WHY Facts are Stubborn things eh?

Wow, RICH, you think it mig... (Below threshold)
Mr. Reagan:

Wow, RICH, you think it might have something to do with the fact that the consitution was created to protect people against the government? That if you actually read through the constitution that there isn't a single affirmative responsibility granted to the government, yet an entire list of things the government cannot do to its people?

What I think "these people" are more worried about is a government that seems to think it can do whatever it wants. That it would invent affirmative responsibilities to protect the American people and to hell with the prohibitive themes of the United States constitution that would protect the people in this country from its own government.

And by the way, who are "these people" that are arguing these points. The faceless liberal mass that...I dunno...have the audacity to believe something different from you. Could you name some of them or are you simply happy speaking in platitudes and making gross generalizations about "these people".

Oh, and if there is a group of constitution-toting, 4th Amendment loving proponents of illegal immigration out there, can you reply with their web address? I'd love to read it.

New Poll: Majority o... (Below threshold)
LOL WIZPAIN:


New Poll: Majority of Americans Disapprove of Bush's Warrantless Wiretapping

A little more than a week ago, the right-wingers heralded the results of a poll that they claimed showed a majority of Americans supporting Bush's illegal warrantless wiretapping policy. Here's what that poll found:

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States.

Michelle Malkin used the poll results to suggest "America Is OK With NSA." Redstate and the National Review also celebrated the results.

But there was a big problem with the poll question -- it failed to say that President Bush was conducting the wiretapping without a warrant. Today, a new AP poll was released showing what Americans truly think of Bush's policy:

56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.


SO MUCH FOR WIZPAIN
JEEZ you guys ARE SLOW.

This is different from wire... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

This is different from wiretapping. This is keeping a known associates list on every citizen. And yes I can purchase this information from the phone company. And guess what, that's wrong too. The phone company shouldn't be compiling information about me outside of what it needs to provide my service and bill me. Giving it to a third party for money is something that actually should be stopped.

If they have a suspect, then get the information as needed. Even if warrants were not needed, this would atleast leave a papertrail of activity to investigate incase this is abused. But keeping on everyone is not necessary and allows its abuse in relative secrecy.

Just ask yourself this. If Hillary took office, would you want her to have access to this information with no accountability and little to no records?

I think it may be fairly be... (Below threshold)

I think it may be fairly benign now, but there are some potential major problems with this program. I've done some professional work on social network modeling software and am a little wary of dismissing this like a lot of people on the right. The problem with this software is that the better it gets upgraded to handle statistical learning, the more powerful it will get for finding patterns that wouldn't be readily apparent to the human eye. I could easily see a President Clinton using this to surreptitiously find local leaders in "unpopular groups" without bringing field agents into most of it.

As always, the rule is to be very careful of this sort of thing because the NSA is a very capable agency. In the wrong hands, this system could be turned against the public, especially the political right, in a very nasty way. It's just a question of what you want a more corrupt future leader to have access to.

What constitues "..fairly b... (Below threshold)
waddayknow:

What constitues "..fairly begnign..." is a question that comes to mind. The Titanic also comes to mind. Seems they were passing a fairly begnign iceberg. What's that? You only see the tip of the iceberg? Fact? Fact. Ripped the ship in half didn't it? Fairly begnine or pretty much metasticized and killing the host?

I see some of the brain dea... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

I see some of the brain dead lefties are on tonight. There is a difference in tapping a phone and listening to the conversation and tracking where a phone call goes by number only. Actually i can't see why people worry about someone tapping their phone, unless they are in the drug traffic business, a criminal or associated with the dim-wit party. These people worry because they should all be doing life without parole. I hope to god we get attacked with several million deaths and billions of dollars in destruction. Then the president can stand up and say 'I told you so', you and your leakers are the cause of it. There won't be another dim-wit elected to a local, state or national office in the next 100 years. They have walked into a trap with their eyes wide open (brain closed for all business) and the terrorists have the trip wire for the trap. Let er rip.

It's a question of trust an... (Below threshold)
docjim505:

It's a question of trust and ultimately of determining which is the bigger problem.

I don't especially trust the government (as some have pointed out, if Bush can do it, so can a filthy democrat president).

But I fear another 9-11 more than I fear the government.

Forget for a moment is it l... (Below threshold)
Drew E.:

Forget for a moment is it legal. Is it useful? Check out www.defensetech.org/archives/002399.html ..I like the statement made along the line of If you are looking for a needle in a haystack it doesn't make any sense to make the haystack bigger.

Some of you people need to ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Some of you people need to educate yourself on the legalities of the phone companies and call tracing.

There is no law making those records private. Period.

Anyone can buy the data. Marketing firms do it all the time--long before Bush.

By US Code, if the government requests phone companies are required to turn over the records. There is nothing new in what is being done here. It's been done for several years and the world didn't end.

You can't have a "right" taken away that you never had in the first place.

Kim, you may want to check ... (Below threshold)
Marc:

Kim, you may want to check the link to WaPo, it returns a "not found."

It returns the same from their front page and also their link to the polling data.

Strange... leads me to the possibility something is wrong with the data. Or they put on thier partisan blinders and pulled the "good news."

BTW Faith 1, your right on ... (Below threshold)
Marc:

BTW Faith 1, your right on the money. Title 18, Chapter 121, Section 2709 of the U.S. Code spells it all out.

It specifically notes phone records can be obtained with a simple request (no warrants involved) when conducting terrorism investigations.

By US Code, if the gover... (Below threshold)
Lee:

By US Code, if the government requests phone companies are required to turn over the records. There is nothing new in what is being done here. It's been done for several years and the world didn't end

Then how and why is Qwest getting away with not complying with the order? The news article I saw recently quoted Qwest officials as saying they weren't complying for "privacy and legal" reasons.

Apparently their lawyers looked at the question and decided it wasn't as "slam dunk" as you make it out to be...

It specifically notes ph... (Below threshold)
Lee:

It specifically notes phone records can be obtained with a simple request (no warrants involved) when conducting terrorism investigations.

Aha, Marc answered my question for me. It goes back to "probable cause" which the government doesn't have.

Horray for QWEST for standing up for their customer's privacy.

re: Qwest - here is a porti... (Below threshold)
Lee:

re: Qwest - here is a portion of their position.

link By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writers Sat May 13, 1:25 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Telecommunications giant Qwest refused to provide the government with access to telephone records of its 15 million customers after deciding the request violated privacy law, a lawyer for a former company executive said Friday. For a second day, the former National Security Agency director defended the spy agency's activities.

In a written statement, the attorney for former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio said the government approached the company in the fall of 2001 seeking access to the phone records of Qwest customers, with neither a warrant nor approval from a special court established to handle surveillance matters.

"Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act," attorney Herbert J. Stern said from his Newark, N.J., office.

I believe it's the Telecommunications Act of 1934 that is being referenced here. Qwest refused to cooperate in 2001, and was not forced to comply. That strongly suggests that there is enough wiggle room in the Act that the companies are not required to comply, as has been suggested.

Now, if the adminstration had a warrant it could have been a different story. The good new is AT&T and the other companies who pulled down their pants and rolled over for the government are going to be sued for BILLIONS, teaching them a very important lesson in the process.

All of this should hit the fan right about the time Republicans are trying to convince America that another term with them in the White House is a good idea.

Good f*cking luck!

re: Qwest - here is a porti... (Below threshold)
Lee:

re: Qwest - here is a portion of their position.

news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060513/ap_on_re_us/nsa_phone_records_53

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writers Sat May 13, 1:25 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Telecommunications giant Qwest refused to provide the government with access to telephone records of its 15 million customers after deciding the request violated privacy law, a lawyer for a former company executive said Friday. For a second day, the former National Security Agency director defended the spy agency's activities.

In a written statement, the attorney for former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio said the government approached the company in the fall of 2001 seeking access to the phone records of Qwest customers, with neither a warrant nor approval from a special court established to handle surveillance matters.

"Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act," attorney Herbert J. Stern said from his Newark, N.J., office.

I believe it's the Telecommunications Act of 1934 that is being referenced here. Qwest refused to cooperate in 2001, and was not forced to comply. That strongly suggests that there is enough wiggle room in the Act that the companies are not required to comply, as has been suggested.

Now, if the adminstration had a warrant it could have been a different story. The good new is AT&T and the other companies who pulled down their pants and rolled over for the government are going to be sued for BILLIONS, teaching them a very important lesson in the process.

All of this should hit the fan right about the time Republicans are trying to convince America that another term with them in the White House is a good idea.

Good f*cking luck!

Nice one, Kim!From... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Nice one, Kim!

From Newsweek:
14. Now on another subject... As you may know, there are reports that the NSA, a government intelligence agency, has been collecting the phone call records of Americans. The agency doesn't actually listen to the calls but logs in nearly every phone number to create a database of calls made within the United States. Which of the following comes CLOSER to your own view of this domestic surveillance program...(READ)

41% say necessary tool, 53% say goes too far.

I expect a correction. Soon!

The US Code I am referring ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

The US Code I am referring too is US Code Title 18, Chapter 121, Section 2709.

Specifically the following sections. Note the "Director" refernces the Director of the FBI.

"(1) request the name, address, length of service, and local and long distance toll billing records of a person or entity if the Director (or his designee) certifies in writing to the wire or electronic communication service provider to which the request is made that the name, address, length of service, and toll billing records sought are relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such an investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

(2) request the name, address, and length of service of a person or entity if the Director (or his designee) certifies in writing to the wire or electronic communication service provider to which the request is made that the information sought is relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such an investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(c) Prohibition of certain disclosure.--No wire or electronic communication service provider, or officer, employee, or agent thereof, shall disclose to any person that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained access to information or records under this section.

(d) Dissemination by bureau.--The Federal Bureau of Investigation may disseminate information and records obtained under this section only as provided in guidelines approved by the Attorney General for foreign intelligence collection and foreign counterintelligence investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and, with respect to dissemination to an agency of the United States, only if such information is clearly relevant to the authorized responsibilities of such agency."

Last section being important because the FBI can decide to hand it over to the NSA.

follow on...Sectio... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

follow on...

Section 2702 of the same code also stipulates that at the phone company's discretion they can disclose the information to anyone they choose.

Like marketing firms do all the time. And have for years.

I understand if people are surprised by this, but the reality is your phone records have never been truly private.

"If Hillary took office, wo... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"If Hillary took office, would you want her to have access to this information with no accountability and little to no records? "

If Hillary takes office, she WILL have access to this info. Just like Bush has. Just like every President before going all the way back to Eisinhower (or maybe Truman?).

Also, wasn't this already reported in the NYT back in December?

So why is this a major deal NOW, while we're in a war?

Because revealing it aids t... (Below threshold)

Because revealing it aids the enemy, Les. That's why it has to be done. It simply isn't fair to possibly tap their communications - that gives the US an even more unfair advange.

I mean, we're all about equal opportunity in everything, including war. And if that means we reveal necessary secrets so they'll know not to use particular systems, except for Qwest, well, that's just the way it has to be to be 'fair'.

Yes , and Hillary already h... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Yes , and Hillary already had access to this stuff the last time She was in the Whitehouse. And dont forget to tell the quada types about the disposable cell phones at their beck and call as well? or gift to them just to let them know were fair.

Hmmmm.Only in Amer... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Only in America would it be against the law to defend the country against terrorists.

Post-9/11 you liberals out there were screaming about Bush not defending the country enough. That he should have done "more".

Then you started screaming about how Bush wasn't implementing the 9/11 Commission's decisions fast enough or far enough.

WTF?

So now Bush has done exactly what you've screaming for and about and yet now he's the bad guy because he did what you wanted?

Make up your damn minds already.

So now Bush has done exa... (Below threshold)
mantis:

So now Bush has done exactly what you've screaming for and about and yet now he's the bad guy because he did what you wanted?

I don't remember keeping records of all of our phone calls being among the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. I do remember the suggestions on there to improve border security; how're those going? Then again I suppose it's easier just to get data on all of us than securing the border, they just have to demand it from the telecoms or buy it from Choicepoint (who sell them medical, financial, and voter registration info on, well, most of us).

Anyway, if any of you miss the Cold War, like a good John le Carre or Tom Clancy novel, don't worry because we have a new KGB right here at home. You will be assigned your citizen identification number soon.

We already have one Mantis ... (Below threshold)
virgo:

We already have one Mantis im sure,only its going to be a lot more controlled and invasive then the cold war ever was..

Check into the history book... (Below threshold)
Scott Spielman:

Check into the history books and beyond to find out what FDR had to do to win the war. Thank the Lord he did or you wouldn't have the opportunity to complain today.

EdYou puked up:</p... (Below threshold)
mak44:

Ed

You puked up:

"Only in America would it be against the law to defend the country against terrorists."

You're unfortunately living 73 yrs. too late, where one country & its Leader did defend their nation against its Bolshevik nemesis with emergency measures made necessary after the deliberate fire-bombing of the Reichstag.

and let me add that it's th... (Below threshold)
Lee:

and let me add that it's the laws that poor little Ed finds so objectionable that makes this country so much better than any other in the world.

We have to continue to resist the efforts of those who seeks to bring this country down to the level on which terrorists and thugs operate. We must protect our freedoms and the laws that guarantee them, and not allow terrorists to force us into a situation where we lose those things that define us as a great country.

If we compromise our freedoms, we've lost the war.

"Bush failed to connect the... (Below threshold)
Remember THAT whine?:

"Bush failed to connect the dots!"

Hmmmm.1. mak44: ye... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

1. mak44: yet another example of why it's a bad thing for pregnant mothers to ride rollercoasters.

2.

and let me add that it's the laws that poor little Ed finds so objectionable that makes this country so much better than any other in the world.

Yeah! And another thing!

What I find utterly ridiculous is that a private individual could BUY those very same records that all of you are bitching about.

3.

If we compromise our freedoms, we've lost the war.

We lost many of those "freedoms" in WWII, or hadn't you noticed that? Did we suffer after the war? No we didn't because the war was over and the government returned to a peacetime footing.

I'd suggest you liberals would look less idiotic if you considered that the only way to lose this war has nothing to do with freedom.

If we die then we lose this war. If we lose this war then we die.

Does that help you comprehend?

EdThe a;ternatives... (Below threshold)
mak44:

Ed

The a;ternatives you propose at the end of your last post reflect a paychotic & dangerous mind as is typical of crypto-fascists.

The so-called suspension of freedoms during WWII were temporary. What The Chimp has unleashed is indefinite-perhaps making the Hundred Years war look like a flash in comparison.

Should there be another successful Homeland attack, the freedoms that you & the rest of your ilk would be ready to suspend would leave this nation as a totalitarian state.

The mentality that you reflect above reminds me of the Franklin quote, "those who would give up their freedom for security deserve neither."

Curious how the drumbeat of Fascism has such an appealing rythm to those of the right!!!!




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