The U.S. government has been looking and often gathering and collecting data on almost every phone call, website visited, and credit card transaction we make. In case you want to get caught up one this issue which hit the news world hard yesterday, this article on the National Security Agency (NSA) program called Prism is a good quick start. Here's a juicy quote of a quote from the article:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

While it's hard to feel happy about this, could it be necessary to prevent another 9/11? If it did prevent something like a nuclear device being detonated in Chicago killing a million people, would it be worth it? Does this revelation give the bad guys notice that they need a new way to stay in touch?

Obviously, a government needs some secrecy, but how much is too much?

Tags: Agency, FBI, NSA, National, Security, data, mining, privacy, secrecy

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I know unseen, you are arguing my case for me as this is just like your question. It is not neccasarily a simple dichotomy between  privacy  or a surveillance dictatorship nor between prism or  getting nuked.

I never said it was a dichotomy, nor did I depict it that way. Getting rid of Prism is just a choice with potentially horrific consequences.

Suppose Prism is shut down and as a result a plot to detonate a nuclear weapon in some major city is thereby NOT prevented though it could have been?

Wow, that's quite a soaring flight of fancy.

Suppose the police in every town and city do random house-to-house searches, covering every building on every block, looking though every belonging everyone owns. Lock the property owners in a comfortable van while they do it, just in case someone gets twitchy.

They'd be even more likely to stop a terrorist nuke from going off.

Isn't that worth billions of dollars and countless millions of lives?

That's not even addressing all the crime it would prevent. No more tags ripped off of mattresses. No more pot growing in the closet. No more illegal guns. No more kiddie porn stashes. No more illegal immigrants hiding in the basement.

If you haven't done anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide, after all.

Planning involves brainstorming, aka flights of fancy.

The scenario you describe has several fatal flaws, the leading one being impracticality and the impossibility of getting it past the public whereas, at least for now, it seems the majority seems willing to accept Prism. (In fact, I suspect most assumed it was going on.)

Planning involves brainstorming, aka flights of fancy.

The scenario you describe has several fatal flaws, the leading one being impracticality and the impossibility of getting it past the public whereas, at least for now, it seems the majority seems willing to accept Prism. (In fact, I suspect most assumed it was going on.)

If fatal flaws are deal-busters, you're busted, because the scenario you describe has fatal flaws as well. If PRISM is shut down for the reasons discussed then it was impractical and impossible to get it past the Constitution. And as I've pointed out elsewhere, majority vote is irrelevant in Constitutional matters. Warrantless searches and seizures are still illegal even if 100% of the public accepts PRISM.

You've got your fatally flawed, fancy brainstorming flight and I've got mine, which is really just a layover on yours. It's the same question, same amendment, same right, with a bit tacked onto the end.

If PRISM is worth nixing Fourth Amendment rights to stop a terrorist nuclear attack, saving millions of lives, are house-to-house shakedowns worth it too? Why or why not?

WMDs. That's the primary context (imo) where this conversation could make sense. Adding to your "what if" scenarios, what if it's more likely that North Korea could source WMDs, while prism (and the majority of our population/sheep) are more concerned with homeland terror cell chatter?

Unseen- and keeping prism  is not assurance of stopping those potentially horrific consequences. Keeping it could also lead to potentially horrific consequences

I think you'll find that most Americans will accept a virtually invisible loss of privacy in their electronic communications in exchange for just the POSSIBLE prevention of another 9/11 or something much much worse.

I am not as sure about that as you . You can bring up that poll but it was not worded in a way that accurately represents our current situation and we know how wording alone influences a poll . It is also very early yet and there is likely a lot more to this  story that will still  come to light.

You may be right, but I think most people will give up privacy if the intrusion is invisible and as long as Big Brother isn't commenting on what they say unless they, for example, talk about blowing up Milwaukee or kidnapping Obama's kids or something, as long as Prism MIGHT possibly stop a major terror attack.

If Prism violates the 4th Amendment, I wouldn't be surprised if there turned out to be enough interest to amend the amendment.

"and as long as Big Brother isn't commenting on what they say unless they, for example, talk about blowing up Milwaukee"

And just how long do you think that is going to be? Every  government ends up abusing powers  , especially ones these that are so cloaked in secrecy.Look at the church comitee or your recent IRS scandal.

As I often say, if we can only use the methods to fight terrorism that can't ever be abused, what are we left with? 

Answer: that leaves nothing. 

And as you imply and as both Strega and I often point out, it's impossible to keep a secret, especially in Washington. Do you have any idea how many people are involved in Prism? The "secret" was bound to come out.

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Posted by Quincy Maxwell on July 20, 2014 at 9:37pm 17 Comments

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