The Word Terrorism Will Set You Free.

There’s an article in today’s New York Times called “New Poll Finds Mixed Support For Wiretaps. Majority Accepts Them To Combat Terrorism.” Surrounded by “Si Ves Algo! Di Algo!” signage, I read the entire article on the train this morning. If you’re interested in reading, click here. Basically, depending on the way the questions were asked, people are pretty much OK with the Bush Administration monitoring phone calls and email if it’s done to combat terrorism.

Like many topics announced to the public by the Bush Administration, the whole wire tap story is being spun. While the poll given by The New York Times and CBS News wasn’t necessarily spun, I feel it exlemplifies exactly how good this Administration is at spinning something to their advantage.

Here’s how the questions were asked. (The complete polling sample was split; each half was asked one question.

All began this way:

In order to reduce the threat of terrorism, would you be willing to allow government agencies to monitor the telephone calls and e-mail of…

This is where they split them. Half received this:

Americans on a regular basis?

The other half this:

Americans that the Government is suspicious of?

Here’s how it broke down:

In order to reduce the threat of terrorism, would you be willing to allow government agencies to monitor the telephone calls and e-mail of Americans on a regular basis?

Willing = 28%

In order to reduce the threat of terrorism, would you be willing to allow government agencies to monitor the telephone calls and e-mail of Americans that the Government is suspicious of?

Willing = 68%

Basically, the poll illustrates exactly what you’d expect. If one were to listen The Bush Administration puts it, one would be less likely to see it as illegal or, for lack of a better phrase, absolutely wrong. If one were to listen to its critics, one might perceive this as an infringement on civil liberties.

The poll found that 53 percent of Americans approved of Mr. Bush’s authorizing eavesdropping without prior court approval “in order to reduce the threat of terrorism”; 46 percent disapproved. When the question was asked stripped of any mention of terrorism, 46 percent of those respondents approved, and 50 percent said they disapproved.

It’s been a “heck of a year” for the Republican Party. There’s corruption all over the news. People are resigning left and right (pun intended). Congress is getting blasted for trading votes for bribes. More than 50 percent of our nation believe that Congress regularly “accept bribes or gifts that affect their votes.” Like, I said, it’s been a heck of a term and we’re not even halfway through.

Let’s say the Administration were squeaky clean and they’d gone ahead with wiretaps without a warrant. Had their not been scandal after scandal after scandal, I might be willing to trust that they’re taking care of America. But based on the political climate as of late, I just don’t trust this Administration. I don’t believe it when they say they’re looking out for my best interest. Where this Administration is concerned, I believe that they’re looking out for their own.

I’d love to hear other reactions. How do you feel about the whole wiretap situation? Do you feel they should have obtained a warrant? Please share.

28 Comments

  1. Would you have answered differently if it was another admininstration, like say Clinton?

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  2. It depends. Given the amount of scandal surrounding Washington, this particular administration has left a really poor taste in my mouth. They’re not batting a very good average. That said, probably. I’d probably be more apt to believe in any other administration.

    Gathering by who you’ve chosen, it seems you think that my rant is directed toward a Republican Administration specifically. That’s not the case, however. This particular administration is in a league of their own. I just don’t trust them.

    The next one can start “Oval Office Blow Job Friday” for all I care. This Administration scares the shit out of me.

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  3. This should not be an issue of which administration is in office. Illegal wiretapping is illegal wiretapping.

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  4. I don’t care which administration it is. FISA is there for a reason. The Senate gave the administration and opportunity to change FISA in 2002 and the White House said that doing changing FISA to allow wiretaps without warrants would go against the Constitution.

    Wiretap all you want. Obey the law when doing so. Clear cut and simple.

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  5. Well, judging by the recent polls released by the NYT, you’re both a minority. American’s seem not to care if it’s to “combat terrorism”. Does that frighten anyone?

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  6. Of course it frightens me. So does the general belief that the democratic process is a globally normalizing force, the belief that Saudi Arabia or Qatar are our allies, the belief that Islamic terrorism is even mildly relevant to the majority of the U.S. —and a billion other topical opinions held by the public and gleaned from soundbites. The frightening part is that people don’t seem to know the details of the NSA scandal. The frightening part is that people seem to believe Executive power is naturally at the point that the neo-Cons want it. I think another poll should be taken: one in which you have to qualify your opinion with at least moderate knowledge of the details and of the Constitution. I have a feeling you could word it any damned way you wanted and the people who really understand this issue would all agree that it’s a criminal issue.

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  7. Here is the link to a story on the 02 Senate proposal regarding FISA.

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  8. Thanks Toby. I looked for that. That was another bit of information that made me wary of their reasoning behind wiretapping.

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  9. You’ll notice that the crux of the proposal is concerning exactly what the administration wishes to avoid in conducting these wiretaps. Though they claim the neglect of FISA is due to it being a temporal obstacle, it’s quite clear that they don’t want to prove probable cause.

    For any of the pro-wiretap folks polled by the NYT who might be reading this, ‘probable cause’ is sort of an important concept to this country and is mentioned in that boring yellow document down in DC—you know, the one that CONSTITUTES the United States. Now go sip your juice box and sit in the corner and think about your country.

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  10. What I find really funny about the wiretapping – i’ve read that everyone that has anything to hide tends to:
    a- use encrypted voice calls, and still talk in code (skype makes that easy for anyone now)
    b- put coded messages into encrypted images, and send it over encypted channels (al qaeda and organized crime are big fans of doing that)

    I think what the US needs more of right now are people pulling a spatacus – constantly sending sporadic encrypted emails (esp via hushmail), and lots of encrypted skype calls.

    If we can’t defeat this mindless awful legislation, we can at least lower the signal to noise ratio to make it unfeasable.

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  11. I have a question, actually. It might be considered rather lame, but I am curious. Everyone put on their tinfoil hats. Why would this Administration WANT to listen in on anyone other than potential terrorists? I really am asking. What do you think? Seriously?

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  12. While that may be a practical form of protest, Jon, this has to be treated as a Constitutional issue in the proper channels.

    I’m unsure to what you refer when you mention ’…mindless lawful legislation…’ as these wiretaps aren’t legal. The loophole of considering wiretaps authorized under the banner of military force is going to be the critical argument in this scandal. Due to the NSA being used by (and composed of) both military and non-military forces there will certainly be a lot of debate.

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  13. Michele – I don’t think this is about wanting to bug civilians or political foes or anything of that nature. Hell, with whistleblowers being a factor, it would be hard to cover up such activities. This is all about wanting to extend the power of the Executive.

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  14. For some reason, I am always in search of a reason. And by reason I mean conspiracy of some sort or strategic reasoning to attain something we’re not aware of.

    Maybe I’m more of a conspiracy theorist after all. Oh dear.

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  15. I’d consider an extension of Executive power a goal worthy of your foil hat.

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  16. Wow, i think the tinfoil hat got to my head, that sentence above makes almost zero sense.

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  17. You’re looking for some hidden agenda, and I’m saying that altering the checks and balances between the branches of government so that the Executive has power greater and beyond that of the legislative and judicial branches is a hell of an agenda.

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  18. Ok, let’s take it a step further, WHY would they want more power?

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  19. let me rephrase that. Once they get more power, what do they plan to do with it? I guess that’s why I’m asking. What’s their plan? Why? And, if that’s true, isn’t that considered a dictatorship?

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  20. If the President is able to extend his power beyond the executive branch, he (and any future president) can operate without checks and balances, without deference to the law. There are a million reasons why a person may want more power. Like the ‘nuclear option’ for ending filibusters, though, it’s a goal that can easily blow up in the face of a given party.

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  21. Just to clarify my point (sorry for dropping off), from your 2nd to last paragraph it seemed that your bigger problem was not wiretapping per say, but more so that it was coming from the current admin. Just wanted to play devil’s advocate and see if you’d feel the same if slick willy was trying to pull off the same, but preceding it with a “I feel you pain. that’s why we need to listen in on…”

    And yes, as Missy states, illegal wiretapping is illegal wiretapping, regardless if it’s the devil or god himself enacting it (if you believe in that sort of thing).

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  22. I realize that. But as I mentioned before, a lot of the nation doesn’t see it that way. In fact, most don’t care about it being “illegal” as long as they’re fighting terrorism.

    Also, I meant that, too. What I said was that I’m more afraid of this particular administration given their track record and ability to convince the public of pretty much anything. They’re crafty. I am more concerned with the wiretapping situation because of this particular administration.

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  23. But, no, I find the whole thing wrong, period. But I find it even worse because of whose hands’ it’s in.

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  24. Toby-
    Yes – its a form of protest, nothing more. I’ve been thinking though – what if people made distributed computing things like the SETI and molecular biology apps, that did nothing other than emulate encrypted ‘watchable’ chatter? they could send emails , ims, etc to one another that would trigger the watching applications.

    I do believe its a consitutional issue, but i was under the impression that congress was legislating unconstitional laws and measures (not just presidential orders).

    I also said ‘awful’ not ‘lawful’ – as in “I think certain aspects of the Patriot Act are unconstitional and breach the powers of any branch of government as they would require an amendment to be truly legitimiate. they’re ‘valid’ and enforced, but i dont think they’re truly lawful”

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  25. Earlier I was just having this conversation with a co-worker regarding her new i-pod and I helped her set it up on her pc. The only album she had with her at work was a Toby Keith CD. After helping her set it up and get it loaded on her i-pod I questioned the names of some of the songs on said CD. It included “if I were jesus” and “the taliban song”. She then went on to say that she loved Toby because he is a true patriot and christian, just jike George Bush.
    As I choked back a little vomit that found its way into my mouth, I started to argue back and forth with her about the pros and cons of a “religious minded” president and I know im going off on a tanget, but my main point was that in defending this administration’s actions she was using words like “terrorist” “Hitler” and “halocaust”.
    It just struck me funny the words that are put out there to make us feel certain ways about issues. If you want someone to hate something, compare it to Hitler. If you want someone to fear something use the word terrorist. and if you want something to sound deadly refer to it as a weapon of mass destruction. And if you want people to buy into it, attaching religion couldn’t hurt.

    “Dear Lord,(religion)
    Please protect Bush(terrorist/Hitler) and this administration.(weapon of mass destruction)

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  26. Zac, I have only gotten as far as the first paragraph, but I have to interject and tell you that this is why I love comments.

    Now, I will read the rest.

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  27. First of all, Toby Keith shames the name Toby writing songs called “The Taliban Song.” (Which I simply must hear now.) And this woman for reasons I am unable to back up or explain, should have her iPod privledges revoked.

    I don’t work with anyone like that. But I kinda wish I did.

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  28. ha ha ha ha
    I was thinking the same thing. I actually have a list of songs on an i-pod the should result in immediate confiscation. Its kinda like the new calling card. Instead of actually talking to someone, i-pods should be exchanged, and the decision of continuing the conversation will be based on the song list.

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