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Is There a Good Response to the “Nothing to Hide” Argument?

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106 Responses

  1. Simon says:

    JvD – what is it that you think DOES happen? What is the mechanism that does not include human involvement by which the data mining program translates information into action? Computers cannot accomplish real-world results without some sort of interface, and it’s hard to see how that interface can be anything other than wetware.

    Just posting here could be perceived as anti-government actions

    That very much depends what you post, doesn’t it?

    Ricky – that is all well and good, but it turns on the understanding of what constitutes a “light and transient” matter vs. “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” King George raised taxes, imposed tarrifs, attempted to strangle commerce with the Boston Port Act, put soldiers into people’s homes with the Quartering Act, and abolished elections to the legislative organs with the Massachusetts Government Act. George Bush has … what? I must have missed the part where Bush raised taxes and imposed tarifs (rather than cutting them and expanding free trade), shut down the ports, abolished Congress, and stationed a United States Marine in my living room. If you think different, I submit that the speech you think you saw Bush make was actually in Star Wars: Episode III, not on C-SPAN. I really do wonder if liberals think their Bush fixation is healthy for their party and their reputation with America at large.

  2. Paul Gowder says:

    (Warning: shamelessly political comment follows. My apologies.)

    Lets see, shall we?

    (a)

    “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

    Bush hasn’t needed to veto things, since his party controls Congress, but he’s used the veto as an axe to secure the legislation he wants, to the detriment of the public good. example.

    (incidentally, an appropriate google search also revealed this. What the… ?? Didn’t Clinton v. New York put the line-item veto to rest?)

    “He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.”

    Medical marijuana? Assisted suicide?

    “He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”

    Ok, he hasn’t done that one yet.

    “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

    Fair enough, he hasn’t done that one either.

    “He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.”

    Not yet.

    “He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.”

    Not yet. Although he has done more than his share of recess appointments.

    “He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”

    Well, he’s been less insane on the immigration issue than his confederates in Congress, but together, the picture still isn’t pretty.

    “He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.”

    Not applicable, since we already had judiciary powers. (Although Orin Hatch was probably guilty of this one for obstructing Clinton’s judicial appointees.)

    “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.”

    No, but he has made justice for guantanamo detainees dependent on his Will alone. Close enough.

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    Department of Homeland Security, anyone?

    “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.”

    Well, the legislature has consented to that, so it’s not strictly applicable, but he has used military-level institutions like the NSA to spy on us without the consent of our legislatures.

    “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.”

    See above re: guantanamo, NSA, etc. Guilty as charged.

    “He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:”

    Guantanamo again. Also Padilla, etc.

    “For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:”

    Not guilty.

    “For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:”

    Not technically guilty, but the high-ups responsible for kidnapping, torture and murder abroad aren’t being punished, and I think that’s close enough.

    “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:”

    Not guilty.

    “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:”

    Not guilty.

    “For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:”

    Guilty. Padilla, Guantanamo, etc.

    “For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:”

    Not guilty as to American citizens. Guilty as to foreigners. Extraordinary rendition.

    “For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:”

    Arguably guilty (Iraq wasn’t free before, but it may well be worse now), but then again, every president since the start of the cold war has been guilty of this.

    “For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:”

    Like the 4th amendment? Guilty.

    “For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.”

    Hung jury. Some jurors voted for guilt on the strength of the secret TSA screening rules and other “security” regulations.

    “He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.”

    About as guilty as George III was.

    “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

    Ditto. Plus: Katrina.

    “He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”

    Well, absent the foreign mercenaries, Bush is about as Guilty as George III of being the subject of that inflamed rhetoric.

    “He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.”

    Not guilty.

    “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

    That one depends on how you feel about the Christian Coalition and the red-staters.

  3. JDW says:

    Recently 26.5 million “ordinary people” (veterans and active-duty military personnel) had their names and social security numbers fall into the hands of criminals because one guy at one government office broke one rule and took a laptop home, where it was stolen. (1)

    No matter what happens to the government employee who allowed it to happen, or to any of his superiors, all those veterans are now at greatly increased risk of identity theft.

    This is not a theory or an abstract what-if scenario, and it didn’t just happen to a creepy Senator that nobody likes. It happened to everyday people, their husbands and wives, their parents, and their sons and daughters.

    This proves that it is not necessary for the government to be evil and abusive for real harm to occur. Nor is it necessary to single out the government. The more data the government (or anyone else) has, the greater the consequences will be when something eventually goes wrong.

    Caring about your privacy is common sense. Every time information about you winds up in some big database, the proven-real risk of some criminal obtaining and using that information goes up.

    The even bigger problem with a huge NSA database containing information on Americans getting compromised is that if (when) it happens, we won’t hear about it on CNN.

    And if you don’t think the NSA’s list of people you call can be used against you by someone who obtained it, go look up the phishing scams and stalking cases involving Internet chain letters where the scammer/stalker saw that “Alice” forwarded the email to “Bob” and then contacts “Alice” and begins their move by telling her that “Bob sent me.”

    On top of that, your phone data tells when you’re likely to be home (or not home), and gives people a list of places to start looking, should they decide they’d like to find you without letting you know.

    Such incidents are not isolated. Nor are they unlikely; they are inevitable. The report “TECHNOLOGIES THAT CAN PROTECT PRIVACY AS

    INFORMATION IS SHARED TO COMBAT TERRORISM” issued by the Center for Democracy and Technology (2) identifies five documented types of real problems, and they provide concrete examples of how each affects “ordinary people:”

    1) Unintentional mistake – mistaken identity

    2) Unintentional mistake – faulty inference

    3) Intentional abuse

    4) Security Breach (the report predates the example above)

    5) Mission Creep

    So before you say “I don’t care if the government has this information” make sure you’ve thought through all the places where that information will someday wind up.

    Footnotes:

    (1) http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/05/25/vets.26millionids.ap/index.html

    (2) http://www.cdt.org/security/usapatriot/20040526technologies.pdf

  4. Simon says:

    Paul,

    Out of the 27 accusations from the Declaration you list, by your own admission, about twenty don’t apply or haven’t happened. But even of the balance, you’re getting pretty tenuous. Citing Katrina in support of the claim that Bush “has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people”? That’s not “shamelessly political comment”, it’s just stupid). Citing medical marijuana and assisted suicide as things Bush has forbidden the states (I’ll let you get away with suggesting that the Governors are the president’s governors, since I’m pushed for time) to do? When and how did Bush do that? It’s incredibly tenuous to suggest that Guantanamo etc. ” render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power”, and “For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments”? Reaching.

    The ones I’ll give you:

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” (I’m a small government conservative, so I’m with you on this).

    (And I think, by the way, liberals want to be pretty careful before complaining about obstructing nominees, since we will see the mother of all obstruction when the next liberal member of the Supreme Court retires.)

    If we’re going to start hurling accusations from the Declaration of Independence, perhaps you’d like to defend the Supreme Court’s proclivity for using foreign law in the light of the Declaration of Independence’s objection that George III had “subject[ed] us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws“?

    I’m out of time, but this was beneath you, Paul…

  5. Paul Gowder says:

    Simon,

    I confess, the list of declaration violations was a little pissy. But you have to agree that some of the truly egregious behavior is analagous to some of the things that were complained of in the declaration.

    As for the medical marijuana and assisted suicide things, the reason we had a Raich case was because the Bush administration chose to take a contested view of federalism and sent federal agents to raid Raich’s home (home?) and destroy his weed, notwithstanding the fact that, under state law, it was legal for him to possess and use it. It sounds like Bush forbade the government of California (the closest analogy to George III’s governors) to legalize medical marijuana.

    Similarly, John Ashcroft issued rulings that would turn the controlled substances act on Oregon doctors who prescribed ODs for assisted suicide patients, notwithstanding Oregon law’s explicitly legalizing same. Sounds like he was preventing the states from acting yet again. Fortunately for the colonists, this bit of Royal Power came out the other way in the Supreme Court, but the point remains.

  6. JEdgar says:

    There once was a guy who ran the FBI and had his own private information collection system which let him get the goods on a large number of people. He manipulated this information to achieve his own ends.

    While you and I have nothing to hide, lets say that 1% of the adults do have something to hide. Not something really bad, just something they would rather not have everyone know.

    Now say that, god forbid, the Democrats got back into power. We know they have no scruples – unlike the Republicans. Say they got control of this information and then used it to gently suggest that those people vote Democratic in the future. Nothing provable, no back channel, just suggestions.

    The horror – they would win every election from then on, since enough races are won by less than 1% of the vote to make a difference – including recent presidential elections.

    Good thing the Republicans are in power now. No chance of them trying anything like this.

  7. Wizzer says:

    Well. Think I have to agree – with everybody. But I’m suspicious. Why no posts from the 2nd to the 15th? Alot of real nasty anti-government propaganda? Hmm. Are THEY all watching me, all the time? I’m a graduate of West Point and I make pizzas. Seems like I should have everybody watching me and nobody. Does the government have the right to know how much money I make and who I make it from? Are they somehow privy through law to know what the relationship is between me and my employees or me and my customers? Is government worth it? Should I worry about interference with my business in the wide open sunshine? I let kids make pizzas for free – almost the equivalent of “free beer”. All of my questions are rhetorical. I have no (real significant) pressure and enjoy what I do very much. My liberty is compromised and I dislike all politicians and people associated with them. Now they’re probably after me big time – guess I should start another Woodstock or figure out another way that the marketers can beat the policitians. Then it’ll all be groovy & cool.

    Riz

  8. John Holmes (No, not THAT guy) says:

    Perhaps those concerned about misuse of access should start by looking at the false-positives that big organisations of any sort can create.

    The UK Government recently admitted that it has falsely labelled several hundred people as criminals when they are not. As one lady put it: she lost a good job over her non-existant criminal record, and the government won’t apologize.

    Now tell me that a Government agency can see what we do, make inferences about what we do, and get it right, because if they get it wrong who knows they’ve screwed up? When you find out, then who takes responsibility? When they don’t take responsibility, then who do you go to, over their heads?

    So tell me: WHO WATCHES THE WATCHERS?

    John

  9. Alan says:

    The problem is not so much that the government is spying on us to find enemies of America. It is that the spying can be used to find enemies of the current administration.

  10. Winston Smith says:

    > I guess, Adam, what I was hoping for was a more > convincing argument from a bunch of lawyers. > > > These things wouldn’t convince me if I were on a > jury, especially if the government was throwing > 9/11 in my face.

    I just came across this thread and read it in its entirety. Better late then never.

    This matter is really scary, and to me has been scary since long before 9/11.

    I went to college in a American city ravaged by the effects of generations who did not value education, and then imparted that into their children and grandchildren.

    By the time I left ~ 15 years ago, there were vast swaths of the population that had been illiterate for at least 3 generations, and I am sure you can add one or 2 more to that since then.

    There were additional swaths, the “middle america” that anne describesherself as, probably, who ascribed reducing value over time to education, in particular the ability to think critically, to see other points of view, and to weigh them and make independent decisions.

    This may not be the time or place to discuss what policies have led to that or might fix it, but I think that these observations do matchup with something anne implied:

    “Middle American housewives” such as her can’t be bothered to think in abstract terms. Likely because she was never trained to do so. And life has been relatively safe and secure for about 20 years of more, so there has been no need to do anything other then “go along to get along”. to her credit, at least in she hangs around online with those otherwise inclined (but only to trol and taunt, not to learn and be challenged), but she is right – huge numbers like her can’t and won’t do think critically.

    There is political peril indeed in having so many voters uneducated and who do not see the value of changing, not for thwmselves, and not for their children, becuase they see the risk of disruption to their own life as unlikely enough to value the risk of disruption to other’s lives or to our society as a whole.

    I suspect many of us here, myself included, weere educated in a pre-9/11 era where the rallying cry against oppressive government was summed up in a book titled with another well known date: 1984 by George Orwell.

    Perhaps all of us, Anne included, would do well to buy a fresh copy ad re-read it, as critically as we can. The earlier Cold War political leitmotif was that succumbing to Soviet style politics would lead to the totalitarian state described therein.

    But, post-Reagan, that seems to be forgotten. Yet it seems to me what is posited in real life as happening in the USA (summarixed by the examples others have posted, and much more they haven’t) has a clear line from what is known today to the state described in the book.

    And it isn’t a long line. Some might say we are there already – I won’t go that far, but it looks like we are well along on the path.

    So to Anne, and your “Middle America”, if that book, and what it represented could be resurrected in your conciousness in the current context instead of the Cold War context of yore, would that help you understand the “lawyerly” arguments presented above?

    The book and its ideas were persuasive in public discourse before, so surely they should be now – we didn’t want that society then, and I don’t think even “Middle America” wants it now.

    Finally, to paraphrase: “The price of privacy is eternal vigilence”.

    Let’s hope that vigilence doesn’t come to “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” or “Don’t Tread On Me”.

  11. Jerry says:

    Has anyone heard of Nixon and why he resigned? Now the NSA is “openly” collecting data on us? Yes, I know it is only calls outside the states.

  12. Setu says:

    Returning to how to make an argument that will convince middle America about the privacy infringement that occurs due to wire tapping, perhaps instead of words, we can use cartoons, movies, films etc. For example, Walt Handelsman has a great flash animated movie here which makes the point:

    http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-wh-nsawiretapping,0,1906650.flash

  13. Reed Gelzer says:

    First, some background. Privacy is, at least in part, about anonymity. Why do we have the right to vote in private? It’s because a State is compelled, for its own interest, to attempt as much control as it can. Why do we have governmental power split between three branches in our Constitution? It isn’t to make the State more efficient, it’s to hobble it and make in more difficult for the State to violate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sometimes that does not work very well, like internment of Japanese citizens in WWII, the FBI and Red Squad actions against civil rights activists and anti-war activists in the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s… If we give the State better tools and permission to use them, what is the countervailing ability to resist an intrusive and interventionist State?

    The difference today is the unprecedented ability of a small number of people to watch and intervene in the lives of a large number of people. The NSA is recording phone calls. In the past, it took one person listening to one phone call to figure out whether it might be a threat and start a process to do something about it. With digital voice recording and voice recognition, the data can be scanned and key words, phrases, etc. can be cued to set actions in motion directly.

    Here are some lines to try out: The danger is not the loss of privacy, it’s the loss of anonymity before the State. The line I have had some success with is “what if the Soviet Union had survived to today, and had the facility to monitor and act on every phone call, or for that matter, every conversation within range of a microphone?” If you cannot draw the curtain on anything, and the State decides that anyone uttering the word “freedom” is a security risk…

    Even our government, in times of stress and war, has done stupid things. In this brave new world of endless war, where does the justification of pre-emptive action stop? Apparently it does not stop even with your local public library.

    Other things that seem to cue people’s interests, depending on their own life experiences: Ever tried to correct errors in a credit report? A friend’s recent mortgage application turned up an error by another bank who transposed numbers in a man’s SSN so that his data is now intermixed with hers. It has consumed many hours of her time because, per the credit reporting firm, it is her responsibility to contact the sources of error and see them corrected.

    Ever try to get an error corrected in your medical record? I have and, since it is difficult to tell where copies of that record may have gone, it can be a daunting (and life-threatening) problem if, for example, you are thought allergic to a particular antibiotic commonly used in emergencies, and you are not…

    Good luck to you all and to us all. This is a very important discussion.

    RDGelzer

  14. DRCunningham says:

    If one uses the PUBLIC airwaves or PUBLIC Internet or PUBLIC areas to discuss personal matters or meet, how exactly is it that you expect PRIVACY?

    As to the matter of listening in on phone calls, a PRIVATE service, I totally agree with those decrying that practice. However, if there is a law that permits surveillance of calls into or out of the country, then IT’S THE LAW! If you don’t like it, act to change it.

  15. SueM says:

    Chiming in very late…

    Paul,

    Anne is trying to help us. Don’t berate her for speaking the truth as she knows it. Use your intellect and creativity to come up with a way to get your point across in a way that speaks to her. The validity of your arguments is a moot point if people don’t listen to them (or understand them even if they do).

    The American attention span is short, and average people are way too busy struggling through their daily lives trying to put food on their tables to have time or energy to listen much to anything that isn’t short and easy to grasp. Reducing an argument to sound bites probably goes against your very nature. But if that’s all most people are able to hear, what’s the alternative?

    Calling them dumb and wallowing in our intellectual superiority won’t do us a damn bit of good. We have our work cut out for us. May the Annes of the world keep poking us until we get it right!

  16. Murphy says:

    Convince you that it may happen to you. I am a relatively normal, middle class guy that has to travel on airplanes about once a month for his job. My name, a very common name, both surname and first name of Irish descent, is on the Do Not Fly list. That means I cannot go to a kiosk to get my boarding pass. I have to stand in the stupid line with the tourists that fly once a year. It costs me about an hour every time I enter an airport. So the government is taking 2 hours of my time every month with no compensation. It could happen to you. And given my name, that means a bunch of guys in Boston have the same problem. THere are about 300 people with my name in the Boston phone directory. So, yeah, this security theatre has a real cost to citizens with an incredibly small benefit to the country.

  17. Kevin says:

    Actions speak louder than words.

    The Geo. W. Bush administration decided that the

    NSA surveillance shouldn’t even be run past the

    (secret) FISA court. If they weren’t doing anything

    wrong, why did they choose to try to hide it?

    They don’t act by that stupid saying, they just

    want the rest of us to buy into it.

    Remember, the government are made of the people

    who brought us “plausible deniability” and about

    whom there has been the running joke, for decades,

    “I’m from Washington, and I’m here to help you”

    When people say “do as I say, not as I do” you

    KNOW it is all b*llsh*t!

    Bottom line, Joe Stalin would loved it. Why should

    anyone have to say more?

  18. SOBrien says:

    Government action causes inconvenience and privacy loss for A people, this prevents injury and death of B people. What is the cost trade off of A versus B? Will A people willingly allow loss of their privacy to save the lives of B people?

    This calculation is hard, that is is not a good reason to ridicule and reject it.

    “We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” JFK

  19. scientist says:

    Part of the problem with tracking purchases with grocery store “snitch cards” is that there are often combinations that can and WILL be looked for in future by government agencies.

    Combinations of goods that can often be purchased for innocent reasons — but which can be misused in the wrong hands — and which can trigger overly-suspicious computer programs.

    Consider for example a smoker with an ankle sprain who buys instant cold packs and lighter fluid on the same day. (or cold packs and gas in a can for the mower) Cold packs contain ammonium nitrate. Lighter fluid is as good as Diesel or Gasoline in bombmaking. \

    BUT -

    the chances are very high that the purchase was innocent.

    NOW

    Add torture or other “aggressive interrogation”

    Many false confessions

    We could fill the prisons in a week!

  20. ion josan says:

    Bottom Line:

    People have to realize that;Goverments of any color will spy on there people and others,for there own benefits and to shape (change)YOU,into

    there needs and illussion (whatever is).

    Everything is hiden under Law and Order and National Security.

    The same way as the communists,former or present.

    If communists,had the technology,knowhow and money,They will still be there today.

    Do not ever think,They did not have a constitution.

    They had,and better writen,than the United States have,BUT PEOPLE PAID NO ATTENTION TO IT AND THE CHECKS AND BALANCES DID NOT WORK.

  21. Mike says:

    Has anyone ever heard of the 4th Amendment? Apparently not, judging by some of the responses here, so I’ll help:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    I fail to see how digital privacy invasion and the sale of personal information doesn’t violate this fundamental law. Is it not reasonable to interpret digital information as a direct analog of “papers and effects”? The argument of “why do you care if you have nothing to hide?” is the same argument that our founding fathers took issue with when drafting this amendment. Why is it so hard for us to take issue with it now? I care because my data is none of your business, period. If you think I’ve broken a law, then get a warrant, otherwise P*ss off!

  22. Matthew Graybosch says:

    If you have nothing to hide, then you don’t have a life.

  23. Ilya says:

    I am a relatively normal, middle class guy that has to travel on airplanes about once a month for his job. My name, a very common name, both surname and first name of Irish descent, is on the Do Not Fly list. That means I cannot go to a kiosk to get my boarding pass. I have to stand in the stupid line with the tourists that fly once a year. It costs me about an hour every time I enter an airport. So the government is taking 2 hours of my time every month with no compensation.

    Murphy –

    If there were no Do Not Fly list, do you think you’d get onto airplane any faster? Dream on! What would happen, is EVERYONE would have to stand in the “stupid line with the tourists,” including the priviledged minority of business travelers who now get boarding pass at the kiosk. Your gripe is that you are not in that proviledged minority, and given that you are a frequent business traveler, you should be in it. But the solution is BETTER record-keeping and identification (by retinal scans instead of names, for example), not LESS record-keeping.

    Likewise, being mistakenly flagged as a bad credit risk can be a nightmare, but what do you think banks would do if they were denied access to everyone’s credit information? Higher rates for everybody, because banks would have less information to make loan decisions on, and consequently would be taking bigger risks in providing loans. Again, the solution is better record-keeping (and more severe punishments for banks or other organizations which mess up your records), not less of it.

    Note that almost all cases of surveillance misuse fall under category of “tragedy of commons in reverse” – many people share small benefits, while few people suffer disproportionally severe consequences. Which is probably the reason most people do not mind the surveillance.

  24. Ilya says:

    BTW, someone complained about how dangerous it is to have mistakes in your health records, and how difficult it is to eliminate such mistakes – because many copies of said health records exist in many different locations. (Which is very true, as I found on personal experience.) The proper solution is to keep your health records with you at all times – on a implanted chip, with a backup copy some place you deem sufficently secure. Hospitals should be able to read the chip and update it as necessary, and not keep any permanent records themselves! Much less chance then of your data being stolen, and no chance of corrupted copies floating about.

    In general, what I think would go a long way to satisfy both privacy fans and security fans is a way to keep all relevant information about oneself on one’s person at all times, and to reveal only as much as one needs in a given situation. A “smart card” which the owner can not alter himself, but has control over what it displays. Need to purchase beer? Show your picture and age. Need a loan? Show credit history. Need buy a plane ticket? Show your “cleared to fly” data. You can not put fake information into the card (technology involved is closely controlled), and no one without your biometrics can read it. Science fiction at present, but not for much longer.

  25. Neureaux says:

    My response to the “nothing to hide” arguement:

    Wanna know ’bout me and mine,

    where I go and spend my time?

    To thee I say: “OK, Fine!

    Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”

  26. Andrew says:

    First, let me point out, that for THIS discussion, asking for your email is ironic.

    Second, If you have nothing to hide, then that quite literally means you are willing to let me photograph you naked? And I get full rights to that photograph – so I can show it to your neighbors?

    Because THAT is what you are saying. You DO have things you do not want people to see. So do I. Your might be your pretty body. Mine might be the fact that I am gay. And a member of the legalize marijuna political action group. And a member of the “Send the Africans back to Africa” Charity. Also, I routinely travel 56 mph in a 55 mph zone. And get drunk 1/month in my closet. And I once masturbated while looking at pictures of dead dogs. And I collect my own snot and eat it. I still wet my bed. I won’t do business with those dirty, thieving jews. And I am a card carrying member of the ACLU. And I despise children.

    All of these things are legal. Now, assuming I was not being sarcastic, do any of you think I would have a job tomorrow if my boss knew them?

    Thirdly, consider this: I have a right to privacy, not because I have things to hide, but because trust is a two way street. Think about a parent. What would you think of a father that says “My honor student has never done anything wrong. But just to be ‘sure’, I hired a private investigator to follow them around all the time, sneak into his bedroom at night and check his computer, diray, underwear draw” It takes WAY too much effort and cost for the government to actually fairly investigate everyone. So we tell them that if they want to investigate people, they must prove it to a judge that they are worth investigating.

    If the cop can’t do that, then THE COPS ARE THE SICKO PERVERTS. Just like the dad/mom that treated their honor student like a gangbanger, if the government does the same to us, THEY demonstrate that they are A) poor government, B) can’t be trusted themselves and C) have serious emotional problems.

    Fourth: The last, best argument is simple. Every test has a false positive rate as well as a false negative rate. If you test too many people, you end up convicting the innocent more than the guilty. I.E. if you have a test that 5% of the time falsely says “drug user” even if they are not, and use it on a population where only 1% of the people use drugs, than you arrest, charge and try 5 innocent people for every 1 guilty. Those innocent had nothing to hide.

  27. Mary says:

    What about the batterers in control? They will have easy access to the private lives and emails of the objects of their abuse! It is the polititians now stealing information for their right wing, no fly agenda that includes abuse of the most successful women by getting control of their bodies. These guys want control and money for their bank accounts. It has been shown that a man’s sexual power is equal to his bank account. Women need better training. What a snakey problem!

    There aren’t many battereres hence the denial by men and women that they exist. I posit that it began with the Nazis and fascists at the turn of the century and before… The fascists stole the riches of the Jews, do their contol freak crimes in secret, behind closed doors, ran to South America, disappeared anyone who objected got control of the Latin soul because Isabella wiped out dissent with the inquisition… People were tortured and disappeared. Ronald Reagan was in cahrge, George Bush ran the CIA… If it was not for Queen Elizabeth and her hatred for decapitation and violence, we’d all be speaking Spanish and celebrating cannabalistic rituals of the eaten Jesus. They should have taken his advice and loved one another not eaten him. They must have been pretty desperate to avoid crucifiction!

    Anyway, if you follow the history, the fascists, under the CIA of the Bushes smothered dissent, supported Pinoshit, who is a bonafied war criminal, and have been raping and pillaging, drug running and getting richer and more and more controlling. THey are outnumbered, but are encouraged by and encourage ignorance through clear channel. I have had to deal with many refugees as a teacher. And their stories are horrible. Children know more about guns than how to read or play. The latest ones from Chiapas are the worst. The power monger, sociopaths get worse with each generation of the perpetuation of conflict. They make money off of instigating conflict by selling weapons. But they cannot sel weapons if there is no conflict. They cannot make black people kill in the city without their intervention. I worked in Oakland and I’d rather work with them than the whites of San Rafael. They are the bigoted community that outlawed help for imigrants, and the law was unconstitutional. Proof positive of the Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Maddness of Crowds! There is such a lack of education that the electoral college is looking better and bettter to the well read educator…

    I got the inside scoop from several sources! First, Ronald Reagan’s friend was a pedophile in love with me when I was only five. His name was Von Zimmerman and he wrote all over our appliances when we were away one weekend. I love Mary Gloria! Mary Gloria is cute… My father was his psychiatrist. Dad graduated from Georgetown and Stanford. He was a diplomat for the University of Georgetown School of Neurology and Psychiatry. He conveyed these private facts of mental illness in our State politics. He hated Ronald Reagan and regularly cursed him all my life. Before he died tragically in a fall, I asked him what happened with that guy Von Zimmerman when he wrote all that stuff on the appliances… I saw the expressions, heard the anger in his voice, saw the dismissals of priests and pastors in the basement. Did not question why he left the church…

    He told me about the Nazi pedophiles. Ronald Reagan was at Von’s party when Dad had to go to San Francisco and medicate him and host his party. Ronald Reagan was there. Ronald revealed to my father the crushing truth in the early sixties that he would be president. Dad got political inviting candidates to the house. A murderer who’s file photos were found in the basement and shredded after Dad died visited my mother to thank Dad… His wife and child were brutally slashed and murdered as evidenced by the black and whites in the basement. I was told not to look, I looked! I do not live in fear. I live in truth. The fascists in control are control freaks. THey will learn sooner or later that life is beautiful and creative not controlled and violent. When they stop we will go back to the garden. They must be stopped! This is Armegeddon. The population has exploded!

    The world is in the ICU. Life is but a narrow bridge and I am not afraid.

    Salmon ran in Lagunitas creek before we used bomb making, waste nitrogen on corn and created the population explosion? 500,000 cojo laid eggs and died in Lagunitas Creek, feeding the wildlife, US and the trees. Now there are 90-490 each year in the last threee years. The most came when I put up signs to get people to pick up litter: ’03 97 salmon; ’04 almost 500, ’05 197! How many will come this year. Not enough to feed the trees, not enough to stop the sudden oak death! And the acid rain of oil monger greed continues to fall.

    Do like the Nez Perce, have a dream vision quest! It will send us back to the garden and music and to a love of nature so profound as to take away the pain of the dark ages of overpopulation and armegeddon! Boycott, boycott, boycott. Send the bullies and thugs out of business and damnit, get the petrochemical, agricultual, industrial, military, violent prison, greedy, war mongers out of the gene pool!

    That is what this is about: overpopulation. See Smithsonian, July, 2006, What’s Eating America! Also Coastal Post, June 2004, Hooray for Scanlon, Disdain for the System. Symptoms of fascist presence in a free country! Down with bullies, rapists and war mongers. Call them what they are:criminals! Get them out of the way of freedom and democracy. And by all means, arm yourself with pen and ink because they are very stupid and cannot read. Might does not make right. The right wing is a busy body, unrepetant thief. Quit talking and do something!

    Mary

  28. Ilya says:

    Mary –

    I recommend getting your medication upped.

  29. Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  30. SearingTruth says:

    It’s not “You have nothing to fear unless you’re doing something wrong”.

    It’s “You have nothing to fear unless the government is doing something wrong.”

    SearingTruth

  31. Ben McMorran says:

    I myself have come up with two short responses to the “Nothing To Hide” argument:

    I expect and demand personal privacy for the exact same reason I wear shorts and a T-shirt even when it’s 100 degrees outside. Most people would refuse to submit to a mandatory strip search before boarding a bus, even if the person conducting the search were some octogenarian of the same sexual persuasion. I may not be able to put into words why privacy means much to me, but I can at least evoke parallels to the questioner’s own instinctual reactions.

    A second response is to ask why the questioner would feel uncomfortable allowing their parents to install cameras in their room and listen in on all their phone conversations. After all, the person would probably have nothing major to hide from them. If they would feel uncomfortable with this scenario in which trusted people monitor their behaviour, why would they feel more accepting of the situation in which some unknown individual does the monitoring?

  32. Ron says:

    One primary reason that privacy is a good thing is that information is power and information about you is power over you. If all the details of your life are available to others then it becomes easy for others to make your life miserable. An analogy would be attaching bombs to everyones body which the government can blow up if they need to stop a crime. It would be just too easy for some of those bombs to get triggered for the wrong reasons. In the same way you don’t want widespread distribution of information about you because someone somewhere (think of all the lunatics in the world) will misuse that information and make your life hell.

  33. BS says:

    Haven’t finish reading all the posts, but…

    If someone throws that arguement at me, I ask them if they have a problem with me pointing a camera into their bedroom. Using their logic, they shouldn’t have a problem with it – unless they’re hiding something.

  34. Catter says:

    Q: “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”

    A: “It’s not about having anything to hide, it’s about things not being anyone else’s business.”

    Day-to day, what I do is MY business. And it isn’t even just a “government watching” thing. It’s way beyond that for me. It’s the little things that matter. What I eat, what I watch on TV, what music I listen to, what I wear, what I read… I’m not 4, I don’t need help, suggestions, oversight, recommendations, or anyone even knowing what I do. It’s hard enough to go to the store a buy stuff on my credit card because I know someone can watch my purchases, what level of what I do is not others’ business? I want to go about my business and do my thing and not be bothered by ANYONE without my asking for assistance.

    I have to fix the car, cook dinner, and work in the garden this weekend, but I’m missing a few things – so I go to the store and buy: motor oil, rubber gloves, and a hose. Seems odd out of context, eh?

    And where is the line of too personal?

    Mr. Senator: “My life is open, I have nothing to hide.”

    Me: “Thank you sir. So, what does you wife weigh and what is her dress size? Favorite sexual position?”

    Too personal?

    It’s not about having anything to hide, it’s about things not being anyone else’s business…

  35. SearingTruth says:

    It’s not “You have nothing to fear unless you’re doing something wrong”.

    It’s “You have nothing to fear unless the government is doing something wrong.”

    SearingTruth

    “Who would say freedom is not free, with the price being freedom itself.”

    SearingTruth

    “When everything is secret, everything is legal.”

    SearingTruth

    “The weak always surrender freedom, at the first opportunity.”

    SearingTruth

    “Who will fight, when surrender is of more comfort.”

    SearingTruth

    A Future of the Brave – http://www.searingtruth.com

  36. Watchguy says:

    My response is simple, the only people with nothing to hide either have not lived a life worth living, or they are in a State Of Denial.

    If an unwillingness to trust those who seek positions of power was good enough for John Adams, it is good enough for me. Anyone else remember J. Edgar Hoover? It ain’t speculation if it already happened!

    Watchguy

  37. Watchguy says:

    My response is simple, the only people with nothing to hide either have not lived a life worth living, or they are in a State Of Denial.

    If an unwillingness to trust those who seek positions of power was good enough for John Adams, it is good enough for me. Anyone else remember J. Edgar Hoover? It ain’t speculation if it already happened!

    Watchguy

  38. EngNate says:

    First, do we forget that before 1783, the very existence of the united states of America was illegal?

    Also, do we forget the most important words of our Constitution: “…the people…establish and ordain this…”

    ‘This’ being the United States Government – our agent. The principal retains an inherent right to privacy over the agent it created for its own benefit.

    I, so far, haven’t yet heard anyone give the nothing to hide argument who was speaking truthfully! What they all meant is, there’s nothing I can get in trouble for – that I can forsee. They believe that ultimately our government is and will remain inherently benign and will dutifully serve us of its own accord.

    What will some of these people say the day they discover that their new vehicle automatically reports traffic violations to the police, and the penalties have automatically been taken from their bank account?

    Tricky Dick (That’s Richard Nixon for you youngsters) might not have broken the law at all today, or might not have had to. Gice that some thought…

  39. EngNate says:

    I almost forgot the original point that had come to mind.

    Back when all this stuff hit the news, I was working for a very wealthy businessman, a fully legit kind of guy to us average folk. He too, waved it off with a confident “I’ve got nothing to hide”. The hardest-hitting answer I could come up with for him would be if he was looking over my shoulder right now!

  40. blah says:

    I haven’t read most of the responses – there are too many – and so this may have already been mentioned, but one possible problem (although I can sympathize with the ‘I have nothing to hide’ argument) is the govermnet could incriminate you for crimes it thought you might commit in the future.

    If they knew, for example, that you were looking at sites about murder and that you ordered a pick-axe from Ebay and that you also wrote a recent blog entry about how terribly depressed you’ve been since you broke up with your significant other, who’s to say you wouldn’t kill them? But the argument mentioned in the article was a good enough one, I thought.

    Something that just occured to me, though.. A lot of us – or some of us – are ultimately worried about government officials and law enforcement agents incriminating us for things no one really considers a crime, right? Not a bad gripe. But the silver lining in all of this is that if one of us really did get incriminated for something frivilous, we could hypothetically find out all the juicy information that whoever incriminated us was trying to keep secret and put his ass in jail next to us, right? Even with the worst of politicians breathing down our necks, the beauty is we can be afforded their dirty little secrets, too.

  41. blah says:

    I haven’t read most of the responses – there are too many – and so this may have already been mentioned, but one possible problem (although I can sympathize with the ‘I have nothing to hide’ argument) is the govermnet could incriminate you for crimes it thought you might commit in the future.

    If they knew, for example, that you were looking at sites about murder and that you ordered a pick-axe from Ebay and that you also wrote a recent blog entry about how terribly depressed you’ve been since you broke up with your significant other, who’s to say you wouldn’t kill them? But the argument mentioned in the article was a good enough one, I thought.

    Something that just occured to me, though.. A lot of us – or some of us – are ultimately worried about government officials and law enforcement agents incriminating us for things no one really considers a crime, right? Not a bad gripe. But the silver lining in all of this is that if one of us really did get incriminated for something frivilous, we could hypothetically find out all the juicy information that whoever incriminated us was trying to keep secret and put his ass in jail next to us, right? Even with the worst of politicians breathing down our necks, the beauty is we can be afforded their dirty little secrets, too.

  42. blah says:

    I haven’t read most of the responses – there are too many – and so this may have already been mentioned, but one possible problem (although I can sympathize with the ‘I have nothing to hide’ argument) is the govermnet could incriminate you for crimes it thought you might commit in the future.

    If they knew, for example, that you were looking at sites about murder and that you ordered a pick-axe from Ebay and that you also wrote a recent blog entry about how terribly depressed you’ve been since you broke up with your significant other, who’s to say you wouldn’t kill them? But the argument mentioned in the article was a good enough one, I thought.

    Something that just occured to me, though.. A lot of us – or some of us – are ultimately worried about government officials and law enforcement agents incriminating us for things no one really considers a crime, right? Not a bad gripe. But the silver lining in all of this is that if one of us really did get incriminated for something frivilous, we could hypothetically find out all the juicy information that whoever incriminated us was trying to keep secret and put his ass in jail next to us, right? Even with the worst of politicians breathing down our necks, the beauty is we can be afforded their dirty little secrets, too.

  43. dave says:

    It may be pointless to say anything at this point, considering the length of all of this, but I thought I’d toss out a few other thoughts on the matter.

    1. The government is trying to convince us that they need this info to combat terrorism, but no one seems to be pointing out the fact that the government had enough information to do much more to stop 9/11, yet they either misused it, or completely ignored it. Why are we consenting to give them MORE information when they didn’t use correctly what they had to begin with? Rather than taking more information, why not use all that money to make better use of what they have?

    2. They were/are taking the information ILLEGALLY. They weren’t going through the proper channels, even though those channels allowed them to go back and get warrants after they searched. They just did what they wanted to do with no regard to the law. This alone should point out the reason the government should not be trusted with personal information. If someone is going to have access to my records, I want a judge signing off and saying, “Yes, you have probable cause to check this person’s records further.”

    I think we miss the point and give up control of the argument when we try to respond to the comment of “If you have nothing to hide…”. I think we should say, “Congratulations on having nothing to hide, but that’s not really the point.” Then we should bring up the various reasons giving up liberties is bad. Point out past abuses by the government. Point out the illegal spying the government has already done. Point out that our government has shown that they don’t know what to do with the information they have, so giving them more only furthers the possibility that they misuse or become confused by more information. Etc, etc, etc.

    We’re wasting our time trying to respond to BS, simplistic arguments. Take back control of the argument and make your own point rather than spinning in circles trying to reply to their point.

  44. Jack Lord says:

    The 2 most obvious responses to the disingenuous “nothing to hide” argument is this: Yes, I DO have something to hide-it’s called my privacy! That’s it! That is all you need to say. NEVER apologize for standing up for your privacy, one of the most, if not the most important right you have (or at least it makes the short list, right up there with freedom of speech). W/o right the right to privacy, there is no dignity, which is one of the most important things to any human. And there are people reading this right now who are sneering at the use of the word “dignity” as if it were some sort of flighty idea or “convenience”. But for everyone who sneers, try to take away THEIR dignity and THEIR privacy and see what happens. They suddenly become…..Civil Libertarians. The right to privacy is important because (and this is another answer to the issue of “if you have nothing to hide”) because it simply is not a right of the Govt to invade it-the burden of proof is on the Govt to prove why they would want to invade your privacy in the first place. This leads to the other great response to the “nothing to hide” argument-is the person who’s privacy you’re trying to invade doing something illegal (notice, I didn’t say “wrong” I said illegal)? If not, then you have NOTHING TO WORRY About! If the response is “well that’s why need to invade their privacy” here are my responses:

    -under the US Constitution, there is a mechanism for this-it’s called GET EVIDENCE and GET A WARRANT.

    -The invasion of privacy means that change becames nearly impossible if not outright impossible. ANYBODY who disagrees with the Govt on anything suddenly is termed an “enemy of the state” (ironically, since they are usually trying to improve things and/or throw off an oppressive govt. Because their right to privacy is violated, change becames nearly a pipedream.)

    -It is simply a basic Human Right (you know, one of those things that people take an oath to uphold in the Constitution-yes, the right to privacy DOES exist in the Constitution it’s called the PENUMBRA-look it up)

    -One of the most disingenuous argument against privacy is that it’s “necessary”. I challenge ANYONE who reads this show me how violating privacy is “necessary”. Any information that the govt TRULY needs on someone (I define truly here as something that is legitmately needed, not just because some Govt wacko says so or has a Paranoid-power trip complex or because it is convenient for the govt) can be Legitmately obtained by going through the already existing constitutional process.

    -the last and most importnat point-wihtout the right to privacy, to free speech, etc, our nation becomes a joke and a nightmare. It is all over at that point and you might as well live in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany or any of their modern counterparts. Nothing matters after that. I absolutely reject the argument that it is important to have “security” at the expense of freedom. The argument is 100% false. Oh, and BTW for all you right wingers who like to disingenuously hold up pictures of the Founding Fathers, here’s quote for you from…a Founding Father:

    “those who would sacrifice freedom for the sake of security deserve neither.”

    -Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father

  45. Rodney Melton says:

    And you are right I be hearing about domestic spying and that is absolutely wrong. Now it looks like The Bush Admins. is getting bit by his own dog. Put a “Barny Fife” situation on that.

    If he is so concerned about spying on people, then he deserves to be spied on as well. Supeona his Admins. and lock them all up. Since he is so anxious about spying on people, know what I’m saying?

    Now everybody know he is crutty. He cant

    brainwash people anymore. No no No No not like before. The same thing Richard Nixon use to be doing. Lying to them during non-radio events. Blending in with people. Then puts on a whole different personality on T.V. then blends back in with people during offset. And people be trying ro figure out how he keeps his approval rating so high. Now they know, and they ain’t going for it no more, no no no no not like before.

  46. And you are right I be hearing about domestic spying and that is absolutely wrong. Now it looks like The Bush Admins. is getting bit by his own dog. Put a “Barny Fife” situation on that.

    If he is so concerned about spying on people, then he deserves to be spied on as well. Supeona his Admins. and lock them all up. Since he is so anxious about spying on people, know what I’m saying?

    Now everybody know he is crutty. He cant

    brainwash people anymore. No no No No not like before. The same thing Richard Nixon use to be doing. Lying to them during non-radio events. Blending in with people. Then puts on a whole different personality on T.V. then blends back in with people during offset. And people be trying ro figure out how he keeps his approval rating so high. Now they know, and they ain’t going for it no more, no no no no not like before.

  47. sirhc says:

    Did anyone mention the possibility of making the government just as watched by everyone else by laying down a system by which anyone can check on anyone? And how would anyone get away with anything in that case? Sure, privacy would die. But so would pretty much all wrong doing.. given everyone is immediately accountable. Give up something, get something. The in between doesn’t sound very favorable.

  48. jeremy says:

    I read your nothing to hide essay and thought I’d like to add my response to this question:

    People don’t come with forehead labels like “honest person”, “hardworking citizen”, “serial killer”, “stalker/rapist”, “kind fatherly gentlement”, “child abuser”. If they did, it would be easy to tell who to be honest with and who to keep information from or lie to outright. The fact is that you don’t have to have done something wrong to draw the attention of a sick, evil, twisted person.

    Every piece of information you give to someone who wants to hurt you makes it easier for them to do it. Since you can’t tell the difference between “Just a nice guy” and “Wants to cut you into little pieces”, you are putting yourself and your family in danger every time you are free and loose with information.

    I also go into how this applies to the government, but this post is getting long. The full article is posted here:

    http://www.jeremyduffy.com/privacy-security/nothing-to-hide/

  49. SteveGinIL says:

    I agree completely with Reed Gelzer on June 20, 2006 who says, “Why do we have the right to vote in private?” I do not agree with him that a secret ballot is only about anonymity, though. Some people don’t care if others know how they voted; some do. It is secret for all, whether they want anonymity or not. Everybody is free to ‘out’ themselves, and many do. But the government itself may not do so.

    Those who do out themselves as liberals (now) or conservatives (in FDR’s time) or socialist or communist in the McCarthy era run a serious risk of being seen as ‘out of the mainstream’. Some may relish their iconoclasm, but many would never thump their chest on a box in the park and let their leanings be known. It is their choice to hide or not to hide – but all of the above are actually legal and theoretically the world will let them be. But theory is not always in conjunction with the world.

    The attitude has been voiced by many on the right in recent years, that liberalism is essentially considered a crime or a deviant mental aberration. In reality, it has been an ongoing presence in U.S. political life since the beginnings of the Republic. But those on the right, especially those who thought that there would be a permanent Republican majority, think that they should actively intimidate, excoriate and, politically speaking, kill off all the liberals. Liberals are seen as “the enemy”, just as Richard Nixon seemed to see anyone who disagreed with him as someone to put on his enemies list.

    My contentions are two fold:

    1.) That the people who are pushing for non-warrant NSA data mining are also the ones who I believe are the most likely to use it – now or in the future – to put people on an enemies list, to the detriment (possibly for a very long time) of those so labeled.

    2.) That the people pushing for such data mining are also ones who seem to me likely to widen the data mining to include things other than the admitted-to terrorism targets. I have zero faith in these people that this wider swath has not already been done. It has come out in recent months that there is more than just the one program by the NSA (possibly by another agency(ies) in or out of the government), though the public nor the Congress is not being told what those other programs are. Even the NSA one was hidden, and the source of its outing is still being sought in order to prosecute the person(s) who brought the government’s illegality to the public’s notice.

    That last may be the real, strongest, argument against the NSA wiretapping/eavesdropping/data mining:

    If it is legal, why did they choose to keep it secret? From whom? Why keep it secret if the government has nothing to hide?

    The people who argue “if you have nothing to hide” don’t even apply that same question to the NSA program!

    The ‘terrorists’ certainly knew their communications were at risk, in many ways, so it cannot be that the government was concerned that the terrorists would discover they are being watched. The only other groups to keep it secret from is the public, the Congress, and the courts. Especially they would want to hide it from those in the public who know what the existing law is and has been, and who would seek to stop it. We all know that FISA was sufficient for 30 years, and still is. Violating FISA IS against the law, clearly and specifically. They had every opportunity to follow FISA, and they did, sometimes, but not always. The times they chose not to, they did so completely aware that they were doing things contrary to FISA. The Congress when writing FISA made a very conscious effort to weigh privacy heavily, to not violate the Constitution in that regard. They would not have written those safeguards in if it was not important. This government intentionally chose not to follow either FISA or the Constitution when setting out the NSA program. The government DOES have something to hide – its own criminal actions. The law is the law.

    (P.S. Does Congress passing laws saying that the NSA program is legal NOW exonerate people who violated FISA in the past? In other words, does ex post facto work in reverse?)

  50. GregW says:

    Care-less: “I’ve got nothing to hide.”

    Advocate: “Yes, but knowledge about you and everyone else is power, and power corrupts. Who will watch the watchers?”

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