Why Libertarians Have Better Things to Worry About Than the NSA

Neither terrorism nor the NSA are the greatest threats to American liberty.


This week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the National Security Agency's data mining violates our Fourth Amendment right to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers" and is "tyranny that our founders rebelled against." Good for him.

In an op-ed, he adds, "We fought a revolution over issues like generalized warrants, where soldiers would go from house to house, searching anything they liked," and wonders "which parts of the Constitution this government will next consider negotiable." Good for him. I'm glad at least one senator reminds Big Government that our Constitution limits federal power.

And many libertarians are furious at this latest intrusion of "Big Brother."

So what's wrong with me? I just can't get that worked up about it.

I know Big Data now in NSA computers probably includes my phone calls. (I hope it's just time, duration, location and recipients, not my words, too, but I'm not sure.)

I know the snooping may be unnecessary. Government's claim that it prevents terror is weak: Officials say a terrorist was caught, but New York City police say he was caught via other methods. I'm skeptical about the very claim that any terribly important "secrets" are held by unhappy 29-year-olds and 4.8 million other people (that's how many Americans hold security clearance for classified material).

So it's invasive, probably illegal and maybe useless. I ought to be very angry. But I'm not. Why?

I need to keep thinking about this issue, but for now, two reasons:

1. Terrorists do want to murder us. If the NSA is halfway competent, Big Data should help detect plots.

2. My electronic privacy has already been utterly shredded by Google, Amazon, YouTube and so on.

They know with whom I talk, what interests me and how much time I spend doing this or that. They creep me out with targeted ads. How did they know I want that?! Oh, right … I spent an hour searching …

Then I go outside in New York City, where 16 cameras record me on my way to work.

Greedy lawyers can subpoena my private records. My employer has a right to read my emails.

My privacy is already blown.

I'm angrier about other things Big Government does in the name of keeping me safe: forcing me to wear safety gear, limiting where I may go, stripping me at airports, forcing me to pay $2,300 for more military than we need.

Actually, $2,300 is the average Americans pay for our military. I pay more. The total for all of us is more than $700 billon a year, which is, as Chris Preble of the Cato Institute pointed out on my TV show, "more than we spent at the peak of the Cold War … fighting the Soviet Union."

The danger was greater then, when we had a nuclear Soviet Union threatening to "bury us."

Much of America's defense spending goes to defend our allies in Europe and Asia. They spend less because we spend more.

"We are suckers," said Preble. "I don't blame them. If I were in their situation, if someone else was offering to pay for my security, I'd let them do it."

And it's not clear that we do what we do efficiently. The U.S. Department of Defense is prone to the same sorts of inefficiency that plagues other parts of government. The department's brownie recipe is 26 pages long.

Military officials say al-Qaida has been weakened. Iran (someday) may build a nuclear bomb, but we managed to deter China and Russia when they had thousands.

Some people want the U.S. military to police the world: Contain China, transform failed states, chase terrorists, train foreign militaries, protect sea lanes, protect oil supplies, stop genocide, protect refugees, maintain bases in allied countries, police our southern border, stop drug trafficking and spread good through humanitarian missions. The list is endless, which is the problem.

The U.S. military can't be everywhere. And we can't hand the government unlimited power and unlimited money every time a potential crisis looms.

We must remain on guard against threats. But bankruptcy may be the greatest threat.

NEXT: George W. Bush's Approval Rating Sees Improvement

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  1. Terrorists do want to murder us. If the NSA is halfway competent, Big Data should help detect plots.

    Even if somehow the NSA was halfway competent, “Big Data” presents many other problems. Big Data will not just be used by the NSA. Big Data will not just be used to fight terrorists. Even fighting terrorists will depend on how the administration, at the time, defines (secretly, so far) terrorist and terrorism.

    1. We have to remember that Stossel lives in NYC. The amount of un-free crap he has to endure there tells me that isn’t that hardcore.

      1. Also, he’s mentioned he’s a bit worried about a major deadly attack on NYC. Apparently, he’s unaware that even if we lost the entire population of NYC, and several other cities, the risk of running out of Americans anytime soon would still be entirely non-existent. On the other hand, there are far worse things than running out of Americans. And one of the very worst things would be surrendering our remaining few liberties for a completely useless false sense of security.

        1. John Galt, losing NYC wouldn’t have an impact on the USA? I think it would. It would even have a global impact.

        2. This is certainly the nicest-work I have ever done.. Earn 10 to 80$/hr working from home with Google! On Saturday I got a gorgeous Ariel Atom after earning $6292 this ? four weeks past. I began this six months/ago and right away began to make at least $80.. per-hour. I work through this link, http://www.Bling6.com

      2. To: John Stossel
        Re: Your Headline

        No I don’t.
        But thank you for the feedback, I look forward to doing business with you in the future.

        A Better Libertarian (on this issue)

  2. So, gotta disagree a bit.

    Yep – everything you noted is bad. AND I’m pissed about NSA. Why? Cause Google, Amazon, et al don’t use my informatin at the end of a gun barrel. NSA, IRS et al do.

    It’s like people who are on about th Kock brothers. What can they actually do? Not much. But I’ll get all butt hurt about them buying the LA Times, but it’s A-OK for NSA to snoop my shit, cause “..if you’ve done nothing wrong…” and “Amazon already has it”?

    Uh – NO. Fuck the NSA, and the rest of the government.

    *looks up for drones*

    1. Oops – I sid “kock”…huh huh….huh huh….huh huh…huh huh….


      1. i think i am going blind…you “huh huh huh”s look green to me. But firebug says they are not.


      2. Cox cable giving away free Cox suckers to the trick-or-treaters.

    2. Also, I willingly gave Google, Amazon, etc. my data. If I didn’t want them to have my data I’d use different services. I can’t exactly choose a different national security or taxation provider. (God, I wish I could).

      1. Precisely. I like Stossel, but this is a really silly article. Regardless of the fact that 99% of people don’t read the TOS for services from Amazon, Google, etc. anyone who uses the services agrees to the TOS. I didn’t agree to any TOS with the NSA. Furthermore, at least companies get slapped when they overreach the power granted them in their TOS, while the NSA can do whatever the hell they want without reproach.

        1. anyone who uses the services agrees to the TOS. I didn’t agree to any TOS with the NSA.

          But you ARE using the “services” of the NSA, so you did agree to the TOS.

          OR saying that someone automatically agrees to a cryptic set of rules simply by purchasing something or using something is ridiculous.

      2. Hmmm… a new line of work! I’ll provide taxation services to anyone who wants a different provider, and I’ll only charge 1%.

    3. I don’t think Stossel is saying that government information collection is equivalent to voluntary private sector information gathering, just that he isn’t bothered by it as much as some people. Obviously the government distinction of force is important. But why people care about privacy in the first place varies from person to person. Perhaps I don’t want people to know what I search for online or for them to read my e-mails it may be because I am somewhat paranoid but it is more likely because I am just not comfortable knowing that someone out there that I don’t know is reading my private information. If the latter is your reason then your privacy is gone either way and the fact that it is government won’t necessarily be your number one concern, even though it is a real concern.

      I think the privacy issue is important but I am personally more worried about it because of where it could lead as opposed to how it might currently affect my life. I think Stossel is saying the same thing, and also saying that there are more immediate tangible threats to liberty than the NSA collecting cursory data about our communications.

  3. My electronic privacy has already been utterly shredded by Google, Amazon, YouTube and so on.

    What can they do with this information that limits your freedom, aside from hand it over when an organization that can limit your freedom asks for it?

    1. Handing over your data to Big Brother is hardly what the judges would call “harmless error”.

      It is the action of a coward. There is nothing wrong with flogging corporayshuns which hand over your data to the NSA or any other instrumentality of leviathan.

      1. Please don’t use legal terminology when it is so patently obvious you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        1. Why modify obvious?

          Why end a sentence with a preposition?

          1. Don’t listen to him, he supports patents on all of the obvious stuff.

      2. Yeah, just once I’d like Google to say “screw you” to the US government, and publish all of the spying requests the government gives them. What’s the government going to do, shut down Google? We need Google more than we need the government.

  4. It has occurred to me that all this data collection is a separate matter from a large organization making competent use of it. It doesn’t take away from the principle of why it’s wrong and dangerous, of course, but it’s mostly careerists and politicos running the show.

  5. If the NSA is halfway competent, Big Data should help detect plots….My electronic privacy has already been utterly shredded by Google, Amazon, YouTube and so on.

    Et tu, Stossel? Fuck.

  6. This is retarded. Did Stossel have a stroke or something? This shit all stems from the same source.

    1. The mustache is draining oxygen from his brain.

    2. I’m wondering the same thing. What’s with his about-face? I’m WAY more concerned about my emails and calls being read than slightly higher taxes. One sort of precedes the other in my mind. Give them less power, and then they don’t need as much money.

    3. Stossel isn’t worried about this because he hasn’t thought it through yet.

      Remember, he was rather slow in recognizing how useless and potentially oppressive government is in other areas.

      He’ll come around eventually.

    4. Stossel routinely makes dumb arguments. At the end of the day, he’s not that smart of a person.

      1. That’s why he connects better with the common man than we do.

    5. Aliteration!

  7. If you goddamned libertarian pussies would stop focusing so much on pot, er, I mean the Fourth Amendment, people might take you more seriously!

    1. I wonder if you glued a big ‘stash on Ann Colter…

      1. Can’t make it too big, she’s so skinny, she’d tip over.

    2. If you libertarian pussies would stop focusing so much on the rounding up of traitor citizens and sending them to work camps, people might take you seriously.

      Why is it that shit that people would have found hyperbolic if we claimed it could happen just 10 years ago is suddenly acceptable?

      1. Not just would… DO.

        I have, quite recently, been called a paranoid nutjob because I believed that the government was collecting this kind of data. Now that we KNOW it is, and I’m not just paranoid, the same people are telling me “well, it’s not like they’re going to USE this data unless you are a terrorist”.

        This shit is seriously terrifying.

        1. The data is the equivalent of a nuke designed to obliterate freedom. I want the government to disarm.

          1. Kind of like the WOD fails to prevent harm from recreational drugs, mass surveillance will do little to prevent or deter terrorism.

            But it greatly enhances the scope and scale of government control, so DC types think it’s wonderful.

        2. Also, these are the same type of people who try to tell me that a gun registration would never be used for confiscation and it’s just a stupid slippery slope argument.

        3. Next thing you know….Nazism!

  8. Wow, this is disappointing.

    Now we have Stossel parroting the same statist shit that the boot-licking chattering classes are saying.

    John, what is wrong with you? If John Stossel can’t see the difference between Google having his data and the NSA having it, then there is no hope for him.

    1. ^This.

      1. ^This … seconded, or squared, or whatever.

          1. x Infinity.

    2. Stossel was always a statist, more interested in eliminating waste and making the government more efficent than in smashing the power of the state.

      1. I don’t really agree. He has never been an anarchist, but he has been pretty darn good on eliminating or reducing the Federal government in most areas. Years ago he had his hour-long specials on ABC and those were great.

        Even if he’s not perfect, it has always astounded me that he has been successful in the “mainstream” media.

        1. Stossel had/has a large platform to espouse libertarian principals. To have him on board or your side is a massive advantage and asset. The question is, despite exposing it to a wider audience, has it had any positive effect? Has there been any inroads made with mainstreamers?

    3. Yup. And the NSA with this sort of data should especially freak people out now that we know the IRS was totally politicized. How do we know the NSA isn’t? I really wonder if some of the data-gathering helped the Obama reelection campaign.

  9. So the military budget is bad, but the classified (maybe $12B) NSA budget is okay? The the classified number of employees and contractors who work there instead of the civilian world – all good? Spying on Americans is a good way to spend that kind of money?

    (And we do NOT spend more now on the military, adjusted for inflation or GDP, than we did in the 80’s.)

    1. And isn’t the NSA’s budget part of the military budget anyway?

      1. It’s part of the DOD.

    2. We’re at WAR Drake, or didn’t you read that in Stossel’s article?!

      1. A WAR. Yep, that’s right, just like the War on Drugs that started with Nixon or the War on Poverty that started with Johnson, both of which are still ongoing.

        This one, like those others, features blank checks on spending, no exit strategy (it’s not like they’ll end with a surrender or a treaty), unintended consequences out the wazoo, and any actual measurable outcomes don’t matter — it’s all about the good intentions. Just asking for evidence the efforts are working means you are obviously part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

        If they’d had a “War on Naziism and Imperial Japan” back in the day, we’d no doubt still be mired in it right now and Hitler and Eva’s grandchildren would probably be hosting their own shows on MSNBC. Too bad we can’t go back to a time when war was something you actually won and then promptly ENDED because you realized it’s hell, just as Gen. Patton said.

    3. According to this chart, we do spend more on the military in inflation adjusted dollars today than in the 80s. GDP, no, but that’s not really relevant, as there’s no logical reason why a country’s defense needs would be directly proportional to the size of its economy. And in the 80s, the Soviet Union was still around, and they were a far bigger threat than anything today.

      I otherwise agree with your point

      1. Forgot the link


        1. Thanks, Cali. I was going to link to this list as well. (Which has the footnote that the spending doesn’t include expenses for the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Which doesn’t help Drake’s case.)

          War is expensive, though not as expensive as losing one.

          1. What the fuck? The Army and Navy have both been halved since ’91.

            On the other hand, the NSA is part of that budget.

    4. Everyone seems intent on misinterpreting Stossel’s words. He didn’t say it’s okay, just that he isn’t as bothered by it as by other things. Is Stossel supposed to agree with everyone’s rankings of what are the official most offensive government intrusions and in what order? His point is that he doesn’t feel it has as much of an effect on his life as other forms of government intrusion. At the end of the day, the point of defending liberty is because of the effect it will have on your life. If you feel that this has a bigger impact than Stossel does then that is an intelligent conversation that can be had. But don’t pretend that Stossel is saying he loves the NSA program and worships at the throne of government.

  10. I hope Google audits his Google taxes, hauls his ass before a Google tribunal, throws him in Google prison and then drafts his kids into the Google Defense Force.

    1. Well done, CN, well done.

    2. You just owned John Stossel.

      Fuck off, Stossel. You’re wrong on this one. Big time.

      1. Stossel is rarely worth paying attention to.

  11. Count this as a first. I disagree with you wholeheartedly Stossel.

    Having a surveillance state intruding into every aspect of my private life, following overly broad laws using secret interpretations of those laws, claiming the power to detain me without charge, trial or counsel, even to murder me with no due process whatsoever is the very pinnacle of tyranny.

    All of the entities that you mention who already are keeping data on us are private entities. Google cant kill you or lock you in a cage. You can tell Facebook to fuck off anytime you like. Try telling the Stazi to fuck off.

    1. Verpiss dich Stasi Schweinehund

    2. Why let the telecommunication giants off the hook?

      There is nothing good to say about any entity that willingly cooperates with the state in its quest to know all about thee.

      1. This. Google and the rest should defy the government. Don’t knuckle under at the first legal threat. Do what you want and force the government to sue you to get you to comply.

    3. It will be hard to watch his next show on the really important libertarian issues such as food trucks or taxi licenses.

      1. LOL, or homeless people on the streets that are the biggest threat to my freedoms.

  12. When I was a teenager, I recall being taught, in no uncertain terms, that in the USA, there was this strict separation between foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement, and that this was a bedrock principle of American government. The CIA was only allowed to spy on foreigners, not Americans. The FBI could wiretap you but they would have to go to court for a warrent.


    Apparently I wasn’t old enough to realize that it’s really no big deal for the CIA to engage in domestic spying. After all, there are mal-adapted youths in Boston and Newtown who might want to kill people, and we need to have the CIA mind-read everyone’s Facebook pages to tell when one of them is going to have a psychic break.

    1. Blame globalization

      1. Blame globalization warming.

    2. We used look down our free noses at countries with big internal security apparatuses. Stasi, KGB, NKVD, etc…

      Now we have our own internal intelligence agency (NSA) and every other government agency seems to have a SWAT in case they find something unpleasant and need to kick down some doors.

      1. When I was a kid, you could buy a funny t-shirt that read, “Befor I cud not spel stoodent. Now I are one!”

        A new, less-funny t-shirt could read, “I used to look down my free nose at the SS, KGB, and Stasi. Now the NSA [redacted].”

    3. To be fair, one reason 9/11 happened was because the “wall of separation” between the FBI and the CIA/NSA was considered a bit too sacred. But as usual, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

  13. What did I just read? There are two key differences between your relationship with Google and your relationship with the government:

    1). One is voluntary, one is not.
    2). One can lock you in a cage or kill you, the other cannot.

    1. But one will send you targeted ads, so, you know, just as bad! (Maybe worse!!!)

      1. The other will send you targeted drones, so TRUMP!

        1. One will send Googlebots and shut down your blog without warning or reason. Google muscles small folk all the time. And worse, they don’t even have a 1-800 to speak to a live person. That stupid system they have to resolve issues is frustrating and is only good for people who really understand Googly things. For the rest of us it can be a nightmare.

    2. Nice try Jordan but didn’t you just hear from Stossel, Graham, McCain, Boehner, Feinstein, Obama, and countless other of your betters, that WE ARE AT FUCKING WAR! People, somewhere, are trying to fucking kill us Jordan! Terrorists for fuck sake! Or do you not even care? Why won’t you sacrifice your personal freedoms for the greater cause of freedom!

      1. It’s not that I don’t care, but I will take my chances. Just being alive is inherently risky. Why not sacrifice your personal freedoms by staying in bed all day everyday, rather than risk death from traffic accidents, which are far more statistically likely to befall you than a terrorist attack? For that matter, staying in bed won’t protect you from an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or asteroid strike, so better just contact Dr. Kevorkian right now if you want to bring your risk down to zero, Duke.

        1. I’m pretty sure he was being sarcastic

          1. I was being sarcastic.

    3. Ah but Google is motivated by PROFIT! Anyone or anything motivated by PROFIT! is just trying to use and exploit you.

  14. And John Stossel shows himself to be a retard yet again.

    1. Yeah, but he’s our retard — so, ultimately, I’ll forgive him. (But I won’t forget.)

    2. “again”?

      Um, what? This is the first time most of us have disagreed with Stossel.

      1. This^^^

        Stossel usually oversimplifies and often misses some of the important points, but he’s usually on the correct side in these matters.

        1. I generally agree with Stossel too but he can be wrong like anyone else. And he is definitely wrong on this point. I wouldn’t discount the fact that he lives in New York. I don’t think you can be a card-carrying liberty lover and intentionally stay there when you have so many other, freer choices.

      2. Aw come here, John. /gives noogie and messes hair.

    3. This time, he went full retard.

  15. I hereby call for the NSA to monitor all police communications (including their facebook posts) because you’re eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist.

    1. Just eight times? I figured it would be a hundred times more likely.

      1. Only if you’re a dog.

      2. If you take out 9/11, it would be a lot higher

    2. Once again, this statistic begs the question: why don’t liberals push for fewer cops who are less lethally armed?

      I ask rhetorically obviously as we all know the answer.

      1. begs the question


    3. Argh, I hate that sort of stupid statistic. Cops rarely try to murder innocent people. They’ve never killed thousands at a time. They aren’t trying to impose an Islamic dictatorship. It’s perfectly reasonable to consider them less of a threat.

      1. I’m half with ya on that one however…

        They kill plenty of innocent/mostly innocent people.

        They’ve already got power to imposing a dictatorship is somewhat redundant.

        Thousands at a time is irrelevant. Dead is dead.

        1. It’s a series of individual actions, not an organized conspiracy. It’s similar to claiming more people are killed by falling in bathtubs than terrorists: maybe, but bathtubs aren’t working together for a political purpose.

  16. What do drones do? They target people.
    And what do targeted ads do? That’s right! Wake up, sheeple!!!!!1111!!!1!1!

  17. I agree that the NSA may not be the biggest problem we face, but it is a symptom of the larger problem of ever-expanding government. More importantly, it is a problem currently receiving attention from non-libertarians in ways that libertarians can advance arguments against ever-expanding government. You gotta fight ’em every step of the way.

    And as others have pointed out re: “Google did it first!” – just because I let my wife fuck me doesn’t mean I’m cool with letting Mike Tyson bend me over, too.

    1. just because I let my wife fuck me doesn’t mean I’m cool with letting Mike Tyson bend me over, too

      You just made my day.

      1. I agree, that was top notch stuff. Stolen, too.

    2. Your wife bends you over? Does…not…compute…

      1. It’s called pegging.

      2. Strap on dude… strap on.

  18. I’m angrier about other things Big Government does in the name of keeping me safe: forcing me to wear safety gear, limiting where I may go, stripping me at airports, forcing me to pay $2,300 for more military than we need.

    Stossel, what would you feel if the information culled by the NSA is used precisely to allow the government to BETTER force you to wear safety gear, limit the places you go, strip-search you at airports and get you to pay for more military?

    1. Yeah, I guess Stossel is also fine with the IRS seizing the medical records of 10 million people. You know, because the government might be able to keep us safe from the next mass murderer by looking at their brain scans. Or, you know, maybe force people into buying insurance for something that their records show they might be predisposed to.

    2. “forcing me to pay $2,300 for more military than we need.”

      It may be personal bias (I was, after all, part of that military) but i’d rather pay an extra $2,400 for more military than I need than however much money I’m paying for a surveillance state that doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

      I can actually point to shit our gold-plated military has done. Can’t point to a single useful thing PRISM has accomplished.

  19. WTF Stossel. Yes there are many things to be pissed about, that doesn’t make this any better.

  20. So, the American government gets to spy on us to protect us from the problem they helped create (terrorists)? Forgive my skepticism, John.

    And I still love you.

    1. That’s where you’re wrong, function13! They only hate us because they hate our freedoms. So, if anything, this radical curtailing of our freedoms and personal liberty will mean they should start liking us again any day now.


  21. So, is what Stossel saying, is that the AP phone taps are A.O.K. with him, right? Because all that was, was just linking the AP reporters phones to numbers they called and received. They didn’t wiretap in a way to actually record the calls – just who they were made to/from. No Different! Reporters of all people should be very skeptical of the actions of the NSA. I’m very surprised and sad that America as a whole, people aren’t more up in arms over this. So whats the point of the 4th anymore? Well the Bill of Rights was great while we had them. Last person out, turn the lights out!

    1. But we’re JOURNALISTS! Our rights are more important!

  22. my neighbor’s mother-in-law makes $86/hr on the laptop. She has been laid off for 5 months but last month her pay was $19343 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more here… http://www.up444.com

    1. According to the NSA, she’s only pulling down $85/hr.

    2. Your neighbor’s mother-in-law is a neighborhood snitch, combing through the NSA’s intercepts for pay.

    3. So she’s doing video chats 55 hours a week? That’s tough.

  23. Stossel isn’t looking at the long-term picture. Once the government has the information, it has it basically forever.

    Even if the current hordes of GS-10s and tech geek contractors are not making nefarious use of our personal information, there is nothing to stop future governments from this cache of information much the same way the Obama administration has used the IRS. For all we know, the Obama folks are already using the NSA intel this way.

    1. Or maybe he is looking at the long-term picture. Political aspirations? Becoming a mainstream pundit?

  24. Hey Stossel. Why don’t you reexamine the life of John Wilkes and then get back with us on why this NSA thing is no big deal.

  25. Aw man. Stossel, I am immensely disappointed.

    John of all people should recognize the voluntary (google) from the involuntary (NSA) in this discussion.

    It is terribly saddening that someone who is normally such a great voice for libertarians ad civil liberties has made this argument.


  26. “If the NSA is halfway competent, Big Data should help detect plots.”

    I think Mr. Stossel needs to read “No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails-But Individuals Succeed”

    1. Yep, the guy who wrote that was pretty smart. Stossel needs to pay attention to it, as he could no doubt learn a thing or two.

  27. Holy shit John, that’s some hella stupid there.

    Google and Amazon collecting the information you provide them so they can provide you with better service and sell you stuff, is the same as the government sweeping up all your emails and phone calls so they can lock you in a cage and take your shit? Really?

    And I’m fair certain it’s your insurance underwriters that insist you wear safety gear. Or are you really saying “buckle up” is a bigger threat to your civil liberties than the American KGB?

  28. Stossel, I strongly disagree with you on this. This is the first time I’ve been so thoroughly disappointed by one of your articles. For shame, Sir, for shame.

    1. We need to remember that Stossel is a recovering progressive. Predictably, a nostalgia for the ‘good ole gutter’ is bound to cause him a little relapse from time to time.

      1. Off the wagon he went?

        Progressive Anonymous should be notified.

  29. look everyone,
    this is no big deal, we are all overreacting. this information will never be used nefariously and in ways the well-intentioned never intended! you are just paranoid, nothing that crazy would ever happen!

    And once this info is used nefariously and in ways not originally intended, you will see that while you were right, but that everyone already knew it and it was never a big deal.

    it is weird when so many, especially those who wouldn’t seem to be on board with excusing this, follow the playbook for scandal management to a “t”: deny, deny, deny, then finally say that it is old news, was never a big deal, and everyone knew about it anyway.

  30. Just adding my voice to the chorus of the disappointed.

  31. Mr Stossel, your Fox News is showing.

  32. “Why Libertarians Have Better Things to Worry About Than the NSA” – because corporations, and government as savior daddy.

    Seems like the title of the article could have done with one less “L” word.

  33. Wow. When did Stossel become Chapman?

  34. our Constitution limits federal power.


  35. So poor skeerdy cat lil John Stossel is so worried about being murdered he doesn’t care If his whole life is surveilled. I think we have seen the limit of this TV “thinker’s” courage and intelligence.

  36. It’s true, but it’s a false choice. Libertarians do have better things to worry about than the NSA. But they should worry about the NSA, too. And we can choose to be the stereotype of the politically inept, or actually from time to time try to take advantage of political momentum without compromising our values.

    1. Unlike Stossel, I have plenty of anger to go around.

  37. Stossel is much more willing to exchange our liberties for a little false security because he lives in NYC and is worried the Islamists may nuke him. Well, he needs to man up. The blanket surveillance of American citizens is used to target all the statist’s perceived threats except those they use as the excuse to spy on us. A big portion of the Patriot Act is used to further the drug war. And with another Nixon sitting in the White House it’s almost certainly being used to spy on the regime’s political adversaries.

  38. I’m pretty sure Stossel has always been an idiot.

  39. Screw you, Stossel. Few things are more un-libertarian than Big Brother. You just lost a lot of credibility.

    1. “Few things are more un-libertarian than Big Brother”

      Institutionalized slavery.
      State control of the press.
      State-sponsored religion.
      Race-based imprisonment.
      Quartering of soldiers.
      State-owned for-profit corporations.
      Sedition laws.
      Ex post facto laws.
      Retroactive taxation.
      Suspension of habeas corpus.
      Presumption of guilty until presumed innocent.

      Need I continue?

      1. Nice list. All of those are facilitated by state surveillance.

        1. Irrelevant. None of them need state surveillance.

  40. “1. Terrorists do want to murder us. If the NSA is halfway competent, Big Data should help detect plots.”

    What kinda crap is that? The government had plenty of knowledge about the 9/11 plot and they did nothing. So what, you want to give up more of your freedom so that the government can have even more information they can ignore?


  41. Is this a joke? John tell me this is a joke.

    These things aren’t unrelated. You think all this surveillance state apparatus is cheap? You think it’s cheap to pay all these people enough that they will keep secrets?

    If nothing else, all bureaucracies are like any other organism. They want to expand. They can only expand if they fail in their nominal mission.

    There must be harm done to citizens or the surveillance state cannot grow

    Whether it’s manufactured, allowed, or just natural government incompetence it must fail to protect people.

    If there are no ‘attacks’ for too long, who would keep spending money on them? If people start to feel safe, the surveillance state has to feel nervous.

    The incentives to this are all wrong. No government program can ever solve any problem, else it would obviate it’s existence, and no government program will ever obviate it’s existence.

    This isn’t just a civil liberty issue. It’s very very much a fiscal issue. Just as much as the war on drugs is also a fiscal issue. Money is fungible power. They want more.

    The only reason they can get more is for the people to be terrified.

    The anti-terror state apparatus thus depends on terror, and cannot survive without it.

  42. Came in here looking forward to sharpening my claws on Chapman. Disappointed in more ways than one.

    our Constitution limits federal power.

    Tell that to a certain dead 16-year-old American citizen. Look, John, maybe you should just go hang out at Fox where you can pretend that the state doesn’t do quite literally anything it wants unless someone forcibly prevents it from doing so. And, since there aren’t enough of us out there or in Congress to prevent Obama from droning whomever he likes or attacking the second amendment without being impeached or counterfeiting unimaginable amounts of money and handing it out to the banksters like candy, these things will continue under the following administrations until the nation finally breaks.

  43. It does not shock me at all that JS would take such a ho hum POV on what is probably the greatest threat to individual liberty today. HE is not really a libertarian at least as I understand the term, he is a reasonable conservative, he is even a friend sometimes but his ideas are not centered around the principals of freedom beyond a very narrow, white American, landed gentry kind of “libertarianism”.

  44. In a way he has a point; it’s really what the other parts of government do with the data that we should worry about.

    Does the NSA even have a SWAT team like the IRS or Park Service?

    But more realistically, we’ve seen conservative and Tea Party groups targeted by the IRS.

  45. More John Stossel at Reason. Less paranoia!

  46. Jesus Christ! Yes, Stossel is wrong as fuck on THIS issue, but he certainly has libertarian cred and all this “stossel is worthless” bullshit is ridiculous just because he happens to be wrong HERE. He has a credible, strong history on advocating for libertarian causes and furthermore, unlike the vast majority of those here and elsewhere who do so, he actually has an audience and actually makes a difference with the general public. Criticize him, and rightly so, for his viewpoints here, but throwing him out as some worthless hack is ridiculous considering how much he has done advocating for libertarian causes over the years. He’s one of the very few in the major media , the “Judge” being another, who’s fighting the good fight.

  47. While it’s true terrorists want to harm Americans, according to research by Ronald Bailey, a contributor to Reason, your chances of being involved in a terrorist incident here are lower than your chances of being struck by lightning. If this is true, it makes me wonder why we spend so much money on homeland defense and domestic surveillance. How much intrusion of privacy should the American people tolerate?


  48. Sorry John, but (perhaps for the first time) I must respectfully disagree with you. The fact that there are many other things which we should worry about, is not a reason to ignore what the NSA is doing. The NSA is collecting data which could very well be used by government in an offensive (and perhaps unconstitutional) manner. It should be denied this tool.

    Your acknowledgement that there are terrorists out there who want to harm you is sort of silly. The odds of your being harmed is too small to be considered. Even the damage caused by 9/11 was, in the grand scheme of things quite minor (so long as you ignore our absurd over-reaction to it).

  49. Big difference between the NSA and Google, John. The NSA is an instrument of the same government that has been targeting political opponents of the President while Google wants to serve up an advertisement for something I once searched for. When Google has the jack-booted thugs with guns coming to my door to force me to buy something (health insurance, anyone?), I’ll show the same degree of concern for them that I do for the NSA.

  50. But he also thinks in ways that support his confidence.training harder and working with the best coaches do not guarantee that you will achieve Onitsuka tiger-like confidence in sports.Why do so many athletes, despite past success, massive amounts of training, and superior coaching, not develop the confidence to believe fully in their ability?From my experience working onitsuka tiger shoes with athletes for almost 20 years as a mental game coach, these athletes sabotage their own confidence with unrealistic and strict expectations, doubt, and what I call negative self-labels or self-descriptions.At any one time, you either add to or take down your own level of confidence. Having Onitsuka tiger-like confidence means that all the practice, training, and coaching you get leads to higher, consistent levels of competitive self-confidence.

  51. John makes a great point about the magnitude of this NSA issue relative to other small invasions of our privacy that we don’t think about as much.

    However, the real, overall problem is that there are too many invasions into our privacy and impediments of our Constitutional rights that it is difficult to prioritize which issue is most important since there are so many occurring simultaneously.

  52. “I’m angrier about other things Big Government does in the name of keeping me safe:”

    Be angry about government control of your health care. Not Obamacare. That’s just the cherry on top. Ask yourself why someone with an inalienable right to life and liberty has to get permission from an agent of the state to take a medical test, procedure, or drug.

  53. You should get worked up about it. When Google screws up their data mining, you get ads for bikini waxes and female hygiene products. When the NSA screws up their data mining, they potentially screw up your life.

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  55. So basically the attitude goes something like this.

    The **** is already in my *** so they may as well keep ****ing me, besides if I wasn’t tied down here with my face in the floor and my hands behind my back I probably wouldn’t have seen the dust bunnies collecting in the corner. Man, I hate dust bunnies!

  56. This is very uncharacteristic rhetoric coming from Stossel. I feel compelled to give him the benefit of a doubt, maybe it was just a late night and the point that he was trying to get across didn’t come through as well as he had wanted. All the same, I have to respectfully disagree with him. As some of the other readers have pointed out, using a company’s service after signing a user agreement that allows that company to collect data on your usage is an entirely different relationship than the US government granting itself the legal authority to seize that same data. Also to ‘Juice”: I didn’t sign any such agreement with the government, nor did I specifically request the services of the NSA. Even putting that fact aside, it’s not like I was given a choice in the first place, and I can’t exactly go shopping online for a new government, or choose not to use government at all.
    So, while I am not shocked by the NSA scandal, (seriously, does this whole affair surprise anyone?) I am nonetheless angry about it, and I am very shocked by this tacit acceptance of the whole thing by Stossel. I Certainly hope we will get a follow up piece from him to clarify his position and respond to some of the criticism from his readers.

  57. I can’t remember the last time I disagreed with John – but in this, I disagree vehemently.

    “…forcing me to wear safety gear, limiting where I may go, stripping me at airports, forcing me to pay $2,300 for more military than we need.”

    Sorry, John – if you think that domestic espionage isn’t intimately related to these other things that get you cheesed – you might as well just give up and find a real job.

  58. I can’t say I agree. Just by the nature of its secrecy, how do you know what the NSA is and isn’t doing? You don’t, so how can you say you’re not worried about it? If they asked me whether to get rid of secret NSA snooping… or bike helmet laws and airport screenings… but I could only pick one… I know which I’d pick.

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