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[liberationtech] Spin alerts
davies at stanford.edu
Mon Jun 10 16:03:57 PDT 2013
Two issues that are tending to get conflated in the wider discourse
about PRISM, Boundless Informant, etc. are:
(1) Are these programs justifieid?
(2) Was it justified to keep the existence of these programs secret?
Snowden has said his primary judgment was about question (2), but
proponents of surveillance are acting as if all we need to address is (1).
This is an important distinction because even conservatives like David
Brooks have said they think the existence of these programs should be
public knowledge ("The secrecy of the program was a mistake. I agree with
How can this "mistake" be corrected without whistleblowers like Snowden,
when Congressional oversight is as deferential as it is?
On (1), there is a poll out today that focuses just on phone records,
which the Washington Post headline summarizes as "Most Americans back NSA
tracking phone records, prioritize probes over privacy"
But once you read it, you see that these opinions depend heavily on
whether the respondent's own party is in power:
"In early 2006, 37 percent of Democrats found the agency’s activities
acceptable; now nearly twice that number — 64 percent — say the use of
telephone records is okay. By contrast, Republicans slumped from 75
percent acceptable to 52 percent today."
So rather than looking at overall public support at a given time, a better
number to look at when assessing public support is the one from people
whose party does not control the White House, averaged across different
parties, which puts support well below 50% in this case. People don't get
to remove the effects of their support for surveillance when presidents
they don't trust take power.
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