Big Government

What We Know About Government Is Scarier Than What it Knows About Us

We have bigger problems than the NSA.


Many libertarians, outraged by how our government spies on us, call me a "traitor" because I'm not very angry. I understand that the National Security Administration tracking patterns in our emails and phone calls could put us on a terrible, privacy-crushing slippery slope.

But we're not there yet.

Some perspective:

We are less closely watched by government than citizens of other countries. There are about 3,000 government security cameras around New York City, but London has 500,000.

Some people in London love that, believing that the extra surveillance deters crime and catches terrorists. I thought government cameras helped identify the Boston Marathon bombers, but Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told me that those cameras provide an illusion of security at a nasty price.

"These cameras reveal very private information—where you go, who you go there with," she said. "They can record you going into the sex therapist's office, the gay bar, the abortion clinic, any number of places that you would probably not want other people to know that you're going … "

She says that loss of privacy doesn't even make us safer.

"It isn't necessarily how we found the Boston Marathon bomber. There were a lot of things going on there … eyewitnesses identifications, cameras that were not government-owned (often cellphones) and eventually the fingerprints of the older brother … if the cameras were really successful, there would be no crime in London."

But "no crime" is too much to demand. I'm convinced that widespread use of cameras is one reason crime is down in America. Some criminals are caught, and others deterred.

It does make a difference if cameras are controlled by a city government or a private department store. No store can lock me up. But I hate to get bogged down in the surveillance debate when there are so many other ways that government clearly threatens our freedom and our finances, while accomplishing nothing.

Thinking about the NSA revelation, I also thought about other things my government does that I really hate. Within a few hours, I had a list of 100—it was surprisingly easy. I encourage you to start a list of  your own. Here are just a few example of horrible, destructive government:

— Government (federal and local) now employs 22 million Americans. That's outrageous.

— Government runs up a $17 trillion deficit and yet continues to throw our money at things like $100 million presidential trips, million-dollar bus stops and pork projects, as well as thousands of programs that don't work.

— It funds a drug war that causes crime and imprisons millions, disproportionately minorities. That's horrible.

— It spends your money on corporate welfare. And farm subsidies. And flood insurance that helps higher-income people like me build homes in risky spots.

— Government keeps American Indians poor by smothering them with socialist central planning. It does this despite the fall of the Soviet Union and the obvious failure of socialism everywhere. That's evil.

— So are "too big to fail" bank bailouts. And other bailouts.

— I'm furious that there are now 175,000 pages of federal law. No one understands all the laws, but they keep passing more. How dare they!

NSA spying seems less horrible than these other abuses, especially if data mining might prevent terrorism.

I suspect people are outraged by the NSA in part because new threats seem scarier than old, familiar ones. That's a trick government itself exploits all the time: Each new drug, each new health threat, each new dictator is made to sound like the most horrible thing ever.

We should be wary of treating the new danger as if it's the biggest danger.

I don't suggest that we should be passive about data mining and surveillance. But we should not let the latest threat make us passive about the old ones, some of them much more clearly wrong.

What we already know about government is even scarier than what they know about us.

NEXT: Matthew Feeney Talks Protests in Egypt on Alan Nathan's "Battle Line" Radio Show Shortly After 1pm ET

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  1. Uh, both are actually pretty important.

    I’m not sure either one is necessarily scarier pending the circumstance.

    The government regularly abuses individuals right to privacy, and it also does terrible horrible no good very bad things.

    These aren’t mutually exclusive.

    1. I’d say they are even complimentary in a sense. It’s bad to have a government spy on you, but the bigger and more casually intrusive and heavy handed that government is, it just makes the potential abuse of spying that much worse.

      1. That’s why I don’t understand the need to make the point that “hey, the NSA stuff is no big deal in comparison to how bad the drug war has been in terms of civil rights”.


        1. It’s an unfortunate demonstration of the weariness we’ve developed re big government that even libertarians say “well, this isn’t a big deal compared to that.”

          If it takes outrage over the NSA snooping to mobilize the nation against the expansion of government, good. We do ourselves no favors by shrugging off lesser infringements.

      2. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job Ive had. Last Monday I got a new Alfa Romeo from bringing in $7778. I started this 9 months ago and practically straight away started making more than $83 per hour. I work through this link,

    2. my co-worker’s step-aunt makes $76 every hour on the computer. She has been unemployed for six months but last month her pay check was $21126 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site….

    3. like Johnny implied I’m blown away that a single mom able to get paid $4012 in four weeks on the internet. did you see this webpage…

  2. Freakin’ Stossel never added much to this site anyway, and now he’s become frankly annoying. No one wants to hear your lame, unconvincing apologies for the wholesale violations of the 4th Amendment, Mr. Stossel.

    Go away already.

    1. He’s not saying it’s a good thing he is saying that there are alot of policies that are doing significant and real harm to people today, and that the outrage over this one is disproportionate relative to say what the drug war is doing to people.

      1. The problem John is having is that 99.9% of us agree that the Drug War is stupid, wasteful, and hurtful, and are already outraged by it. Our cynicism is such that the day to day rage has cooled down and we’re quietly hateful.

        This new outrage is fresh, and is also a tool with which we can stab at the main offender in the old hurt.

        Plus, this is another step down the slope. Sure it’s not as big a step as some of these other things, but we already took those steps.

        Stossel is wrong. I love you man, but “Gimme a Break”!

  3. John, we love you man, but it sounds like you’re just digging your heels in on this issue. Seriously, this is your argument in favor of abusive and intrusive government?:

    We are less closely watched by government than citizens of other countries. There are about 3,000 government security cameras around New York City, but London has 500,000.

    So, if we only spy on just the Jews, for example, it’s okay!. Or if we only read your letters to your parents, well that’s fine too since those other guys do much worse.

    1. We are less closely watched by government than citizens of other countries.

      Tallest midget… Smartest kid with Down’s Syndrome… etc.

    2. We are, however, more closely watched than the east Germans under the Stassi. Former Stassi agents are wowed by our abilities to monitor our citizens.

    3. Or . . . “could put us on a terrible, privacy-crushing slippery slope. But we’re not there yet.”

      Hey, we’re on the ramp that slides us into the branch trimmer, but don’t worry we’re not there yet.

      Dude, once we’re on the slope – it’s just a matter of time. Rational actors understand the secret is to avoid the slope in the first place.

  4. Look, I want a lot more freedom and a lot less government. I’m not interested in my relative level of getting screwed.

    Oh, and I want my money back, too.

    1. So I clicked on your name and found AC/DC bagpipes, good stuff.

      1. The official band of Scotland!

        1. I might have to look into irish/scottish/viking inspired music again, I used to have a fair amount but the laptop I had it on died and I never re-downloaded it. I miss the bagpipes though.

          1. AC/DC is, of course, made up of Australians, but the Young brothers and Bon Scott are all Scottish born. Which is why they have songs with bagpipes in them.

            1. long way to the top was/is one of my favorite ac/dc songs.

            2. And Brian Johnson in English.

              1. The UK for the big win. I actually didn’t know that about Brian Johnson, which rather shocks me, given how long I’ve been a fan of the group.

  5. So I hate just about everything the government does and I am angry about it. What is the difference, though, between what Stossel complains about and the NSA spying is, you can easily argue the socialist programs, the bank bailouts, etc., are done with good intentions towards the American people. These programs are put in place by people who believe (however misguided) that the programs will help U.S. Citizens. When the government starts spying on us, however, they are doing so because they see us as the enemy. That is what is so scary about these new revelations.

    1. You can also argue that the NSA spying has so far been benign(to our knowledge) where as the drug war has and is doing serious damage to many peoples lives. I have to agree with stossel that nsa is down on the list of nasty things the gov’t does. He isn’t saying it’s not bad but that the outrage over it is disproportional to the damage done by it relative to other policies.

      1. While the drug war is wrong and immoral, and asset forfeiture is one of the most evil things it has brought forth, the fact that the police have to use traditional policing methods, get warrants, etc. means that is not as bad for freedom as the NSA.

        Furthermore, there is absolutely no way to know whether the NSA actions have been benign or not as it is impossible to evaluate an agency where almost everything is classified.

        1. The NSA stuff may have more potential to harm freedom, but I’d say the drug war has done a lot more damage so far. A lot of what is considered “traditional policing methods” wouldn’t be so traditional without the drugwar.

    2. I for one welcome government spying. No really I do. I also welcome what Snowden did and thought it was fantastic.

      The government stops criminals through spying and surveillance and that is a reallt good. I like that. People always talk about it being scary but so far in all the comment threads and in everything I have read I CANT FIND ONE SINGLE FUCKING ARGUMENT. One real solid abuse. Nothing. Its pathetic. If your argument is “ya but its scary” or “ya but some random employee in the government might know you like 10 inch dildos”. That’s crap. Its nowhere near jailing a person because he smoked a joint or event dealt drugs or confiscating someones car.

      Can anyone here name a single actual personal example where any of this has even remotely affected them? An actual documented harm.

      1. Technically, no one who has been a party to this surveillance _could_ mention it to you, as it would be nicely wrapped up in a NSL, and therefore you would be barred from speaking about it.

        That’s the fundamental issue. The fact that – if you are / were a party to abuse – you have no recourse.

        Never mind the potential for abuse in the first place (or the secret court issuing secret rulings, which are wrapped in secrecy) – you could never (legally) contest it in an open fashion.


        1. So they know a whole lot about you, including totally confidential information. What’s to stop a rogue (or even not-so-rogue) government official from subjecting you to IRS scrutiny or applicable regulatory investigation? What protects the security of that information if it leaks or gets used for, say, ID theft purposes? Who is accountable? What stops them from using the information for political purposes? If they can just collect anything, doesn’t this allow them to dig up some kind of dirt on just about anyone, regardless of how law-abiding that person tries to be? What about blackmail?

          A system like this, even when permissible, has to have limits and checks. But with a wave of the wand and the pronouncement of the sacred spell, Nationalibus securitatem, all such checks and accountability vanish into the aether.

      2. Can anyone here name a single actual personal example where any of this has even remotely affected them? An actual documented harm.

        Thanks to this, anyone with an email account who is aware of PRISM is “even remotely” affected. Is that enough examples for you, or you want more documentation?

      3. Much like the case with high marginal tax rates, the problem is less that ordinary people will be affected and more that it becomes a disincentive to becoming successful, prosperous, or popular in ways the reigning government doesn’t like. Historically, large domestic surveillance states have often been used to bring domestic critics and the various powers outside the government’s sphere into the fold. Since we have so little information on what PRISM is being used for, it is difficult to say whether such a thing is happening in the US but it would certainly be in keeping with what other states have done with that power.

  6. The problem is simple. The government is not operating within any real bounds anymore. It was at least nominally shackled by the limits of the Constitution, as loosened as those have been over the years. Now, however, there are very little real limits on government power, just nominal ones that seem discardable at will. And where the government retains fear of public outcry, it just tells lies, which nearly fifty percent of us seem willing to accept, regardless of how blatant they are.

    This has to change, or we will reap the whirlwind.

    1. ” It was at least nominally shackled by the limits of the Constitution”

      This is an illusion, it has not and cannot shackle the government. Only the will of the people can do that, if the will of the people change so does what the government can do. The constitution was just one generations will written down it’s not magic.

      1. No, it’s not an illusion. What’s happened is that the government has really discarded the written constitution and replaced it with an unwritten one, ? la Rome or the UK.

        We just haven’t collectively realized that yet. Nominal adherence to constitutional limits gives the government the air of legitimacy. To openly discard it, for instance, might still provoke a revolution, even in this age of tolerant sheep.

        1. In America, poor people are fat. People with full bellies don’t generally revolt.

          1. In America, poor people are fat.

            For now…

        2. “To openly discard it, for instance, might still provoke a revolution,”

          I still say this proves my point though, it is what the people are willing to tolerate that restrains govt. The gov’t created the constitution and it can ignore it, change it, or destroy it. The only real constitution that exists is what we can get away with.

          1. I’m not really arguing otherwise, but I think the existence of the Constitution still provides the government with a lot of cover. Without it, things could blow apart in a hurry. A majority of us are clearly unconcerned with many government abuses, but a significant minority are concerned. And that’s the thin line between a slowly growing tyranny and an open and blatant one.

      2. Government is limited only by the self-restraint of people with power, and there isn’t a lot of self-restraint to be found these days.

        1. They need to fear the people and the other checks on their power. They largely don’t now, to the peril of us all.

          1. Why should they fear us? People are so divided that most of us don’t know any of our own neighbors anymore. There’s no sense of community anymore. People don’t look out for each other anymore. Once upon a time people did, and that’s when the government feared the people. There was only so much a government asshole could get away with against a citizen before his neighbors stood up for him. Those days are long gone, along with any hope to ever bring power back to the people.

            1. Well, I think we occasionally show signs that a desire for liberty isn’t entirely dead yet. That keeps the government in check somewhat. But the more they get away with, the further they’ll push the limit.

              1. This. They will continue to push it because it’s out of control. They can’t stop now and eventually, they will push it too far.

                Once the money runs out for all the freebies, and a majority of young people find themselves jobless and without much hope of a decent future, things will get a lot more interesting, and probably very ugly.

                1. And we’ll be well-conditioned by then to look for a jefe instead of limited government and free markets.

      3. True, but in times past, it was the Constitution that was “legitimate”, and the legitimacy of the state followed from it.

        The state has usurped legitimacy from the Constitution, thanks to the Supreme Court and decades of public schooling.

        Now the state is either justified by its own existence and power (especially in the minds of various communist/fascist movements like Progressives or Neocons) or justified by nothing at all (in the minds of an increasing number of people).

        1. I reject your Constitution and substitute my own.

    2. Limits on government? You want the terrorists to kill us all?

      1. We are the terrorists, apparently, in the view of our government.

    3. I agree with you, but I submit that it is even worse than you think. Look at President Obama. When he can’t get Congress to pass his Dream Act, he simply issues an order telling the INS to act as if the Dream Act was passed. Can’t get Congress to change the law on work requirements for welfare? No problem, an executive order can take care of it. Congress doesn’t wish to pass a carbon regulatory scheme? Who needs them? He can just use the EPA to issue regulations on carbon. And, my personal favorite, concerns the Affordable Healthcare Act. After much scheming, dirty tricks, backroom deals, and constitutionally questionable acts, Obama gets his universal health care law passed. The Supreme Court (wrongly) deems it to be constitutional. But then, the government can’t get it up and running in time, so, despite the law saying it must be implemented by a certain date, the president simply declares that there will be a delay. Where does the constitution give the executive power to decide which laws he will follow? The Republic is dead, and will not be seen again.

  7. “less closely watched” is a matter of degree. It’s still “watched.” And while other things are problematic, none of them from the size of the govt payroll to the debt to corporate welfare reached its current level overnight. Likewise, the current scope of the surveillance state is only going to grow. How much longer till we’re no longer “less closely watched” and become just as watched or more watched?

  8. My complaint Stossel was that you missed the point that Warfario makes above. The NSA spying on us clearly shows that this government sees us as a whole, as enemies. That is the scary part. Granted, the IRS behavior does the same, but more focused on certain groups.

    I never called you a traitor, I am still a fan, even if you missed the ten ring on this one.

  9. And they track our snail mail, too

    Not that it should surprise anyone.

  10. I think the surveillance state will change peoples behaviour. I see many people in identical clothes with hats and glasses on. People will learn where the camera are and be sure not to provide a good photo.

    Technology is usually a iterative dialog where each step is countered by those who think about it. This is why so few “terrorist” will be caught; they are the ones who think about how to get around the surveillance. It’s the innocent and the ignorant who are usually entraped by the police.

    1. I like this word: “entraped.”

      1. “That doesn’t make sense to me. But, then again, you are very small.”

        1. Defense Counsel: Officer, please continue.

          Testifying Cop: Well, then, we proceeded to entrape the defendant. Legally, I mean.

          Defense Counsel: Entrape? Can you elaborate?

          Testifying Cop: Um, no. National security.

      2. Freudian slips are freudian?

      3. Sounds like the tree scene in Evil Dead

    2. Identical clothes, hats, glasses, even facial hair are no obstacle to the new generation of facial recognition software. It’s not Bubba and Cletus watching the picture box, you know.

  11. I understand that the National Security Administration tracking patterns in our emails and phone calls could put us on a terrible, privacy-crushing slippery slope.

    But we’re not there yet.

    By the time we do get there, it won’t matter how pissed off we get because it’ll be too late. Hell, it probably doesn’t matter now. The politicians who have known this was going on will be re-elected, the career bureaucrats who have been running the programs will still be employed, and most people will still be more concerned about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s unholy spawn than quaint old fashioned notions like privacy and civil liberties. We’re pretty much fucked.

  12. One of the scariest aspects of the NSA surveillance program is we know that we don’t know a lot about it. The secrecy might be worse than the surveillance.

    Of what we do know, it’s the collection of information that is the most sinister, not the actual surveillance itself (at the moment). I doubt NSA flunkies are currently paying any attention to me. However, the information collected is always going to be available for some misuse down the road.

    Stossel is right that there are worse violations of liberty going on every day in America–most of which are committed by local governments. I want to stop those, too. But the NSA scandal looks a lot like the tip of a giant iceberg–and something that is a fundamental risk to continuing status as even a partially free people.

    1. the information collected is always going to be available for some misuse down the road

      That’s really the most worrisome part of this.

      At some point, in the near future, congress will pass a law limiting speech on the internet. It will be a felony to insult politicians online. I think they are working on that right now, and how many votes against that do you think there will be? Maybe 20-30 total nays in both houses. If they can’t pass it right out, they will just sneak it into some totally unrelated bill. They will pass it and make it retroactive, And 99% of Americans won’t even know they passed it.

      Once that is in place, they can just start scanning through all our old data and selectively prosecute us.

      That this will happen, I have absolutely no doubt.

  13. “We are less closely watched by government than citizens of other countries. There are about 3,000 government security cameras around New York City, but London has 500,000.”

    A valid point/corollary is that in the US (as contrasted with the UK, etc.), it is not “big brother” that is the primary concern, iow govt. It’s “little brother” iow private industry that does far more of the snooping, surveillance, data sharing, etc. As a LEO, I use subscription services to PRIVATE companies for intel searches. Simply put, private industry has way more info on the average joe – what he buys, where he goes, who he associates with, what he reads, what and how much he drives, etc. than govt. does. In SOME ways, it’s less concerning when private industry does it, but in other ways, it’s as bad or worse.

    As Stossell points out, walking around in NYC, you aren’t under video surveillance in public by govt. agents (cameras) nearly as often as you would be in england, whereas you are under surveillance by private entities far far far more often.

    1. Private entities cannot legally initiate violence and coercion.

      1. The government sub-contracts to Booze-Allen for the surveillance and to Yemen for the torture.

      2. True. Which is one of the reasons why, as conceded, that in SOME ways, it’s less concerning. However, remember – when we (LEO’s) get info – and we do use violence and coercion, we are getting the info from private entities.

        ANd privacy is a concern in and of itself. Just because WalCosMarCo isn’t (usually) using violence and coercion (note that govt. isn’t USUALLY using it either), the fact that they have metric assloads of private info on us is concerning from a privacy angle, whether or not they are using violence

  14. Btw, a private company that helps me solve a LOT of crimes is Leads Online. They are a phenomenal company and there are a lot of thieves in jail right now, just from my cases, that wouldn’t be there but for Leads online… dare I say it … leads

    If you are a thief, Leads Online is your enemy. And if you are a law enforcement officer (or private investigator) tracking down thieves – Leads Online is your friend.

    Just the pawn database alone is phenomenal.

  15. If we are listing things we hate:

    I hate the near monopoly the government has on critical credit. You have to deal with the government to buy a house, go to college, or start a business. While many see this as a good thing since it may make it easier to borrow these funds (something I doubt) I’m unnerved by the power created and its likely abuse. Didn’t vote the right way? Think government is too big? Donated to libertarians? No house for you.

  16. I wouldn’t call Stossel a “traitor”, but he is wrong on this one. You have to have a minimum level of transparency to be able to claim consent of the governed — and hiding a massive program that impacts millions of Americans falls far short of that standard.

  17. I have to agree with much of the sentiment being shared here in regards to Mr. Stossel’s increasing level of annoyance. I agree that there are many complaints to be had with the government and some may be more important than the NSA spying issue. That does NOT mean that we should ignore it though.

    More importantly the spying issue has TRACTION and now is the time to challenge it. If the people simply let it slide and instead focus on other problems that are not getting press, the NSA spying issue will slowly fade away, undisputed. Soon the fervor will die out and not enough people will care enough to take action later on!

  18. In all fairness the NSA did just spend billions of dollars building a data mining facility in Bluffdale, UT. That they’re actually going to use it isn’t really news. All Snowden did is reveal details of what we already knew what was going on.

  19. John is absolutely right.
    What people don’t seem to understand is that according to the 2012 Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (CSLLEA), there are 17,985 state and local law enforcement agencies employing at least one full-time officer or the equivalent in part-time officers employing more than 1.1 million persons on a full-time basis, including about 765,000 sworn personnel (defined as those with general arrest powers). Agencies also employed approximately 100,000 part-time employees, including 44,000 sworn officers.

    The legislatures continue to drown the American people with thousands of laws allowing all these law enforcement personnel to arrest any one of us on the slightest pretext.

    G-d save us!

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  21. We are being constantly bombed by such articles (as for example cities of the future based purely on its economic potential and not on its sustainability) in order to think there is no other way from the misery we put this world to. It is easy to don’t believe, if you are in Canada, but as soon as you step to some of the poorer parts of the world, you realize how sad the current global system is. China and other industrial and export countries are our allies only because of the cheap materials and work they provide. We are not truly dedicated to co-operate with them. Otherwise,we would not respect conditions their people have to work and live in.

  22. The “new” threat will make it impossible for us to object effectively to the old threats. That’s why it deserves priority when we list things to be outraged about. First things first, John: If we’re cowed into submission and silenced by the implicit and increasingly explicit threats of government tracking, then the lemonade stand police won’t have to worry about any future exposes from you or anyone else. Get worked up about it, or pretty soon you won’t be allowed to.

  23. I think Mr. Stossel makes a great point, though I can also understand why many would be outraged to his position about the NSA. There are many things we should be upset at the govt. for in terms of intrusion, and the NSA while the most notable in recent time may not actually be the worst just because it is the most publicized. As he alluded to the surveillance/security cameras, which are meant to make us feel safer, but can be just as intrusive as collecting millions of pieces of data from e-mails, phone calls, etc. Overall, the point is that whatever the “security measure”, the cost for them is much greater than the benefit, especially as evidenced in the apparent use/non-use of them in focusing on the alleged Boston bombers, where cameras at local businesses were just as instrumental and no burden on the taxpayer.

  24. An adage I maintain is “the govt. is both part of the problem and part of the solution – it has to be, to justify its existence.”

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  28. If Stossel is comparing, he might be right. But, the combination is far worse than either one on its own.

    Suppose someone really finds out something bad about the IRS going overboard and starts to make a fuss. Maybe it is a politician who wants to become a National player. But, he has been watched for ten years. One visit, a few pics shown to him, some copies of emails he has written to a lover, and well, it looks like he will pick another issue to go after.

    This could be, in the wrong person’s hand, the insurance policy against all government overreach. And anyone who runs it will become the wrong person.

    1. Isn’t that already happening? Gen. Petraeus was “discredited” and fired when his private emails were made public.

      The guy who was running against Obama for the open senate seat in Illinois had his sealed divorce records made public as a means of ensuring his defeat.

      In the near future, every online post, every personal text, every personal call ever made will be up for grabs as a means of defeating anyone who seeks to rock the boat of the political status quo. How long before most learn to just sit down, shut up, and question NOTHING? Those that don’t will be publicly hung out to dry.

  29. “Government keeps American Indians poor by smothering them with socialist central planning.”

    Really? And it doesn’t also have that effect on poor whites, poor blacks, and poor Latinos? The entire welfare system is designed to perpetuate generational poverty for pretty much whoever uses it.

  30. All that Stossel mentions are assaults on the basic Amendments to The Constitution and the NSA is yet one more symptom of a government in terror of its own citizenry. The war being waged by the U.S. government on its citizens is being fought on many, many fronts from pocketbooks to bedrooms. Stossel is correct. The people shouting about the NSA and militarized police are correct. The outrage is adequate and correct.

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  32. “NSA spying seems less horrible than these other abuses, especially if data mining might prevent terrorism.”

    Stossel is giving too much credit to data mining in its ability to find and catch terrorists. As someone familiar with computers and data analytics, they won’t be able to find them.

    How exactly do records of phone calls find a terrorist? Well it would have to be calls to/from a known terrorists’ phone. But those records can be obtained via a regular search warrant (or a secret one). So why collect all phone records?

    How will they sort thru the emails? Searching for words like bomb? And then how to sort out the emails talking about movie bombs or other projects that bomb? Besides, do you think terrorists don’t use code words, like substituting “turtle” for “bomb”?

    The way to identify terrorists, is via their connections to other known terrorists.

    If Stossel wants the government to “prevent terrorism”, he should advocate getting our military out of other countries, and for the US to stop meddling in other countries via anything other than verbal persuasion (i.e. no military force, no stationed troops, no “foreign aid” to buy off politicians and polices, etc.). That removes the main reasons Islamic fanatics attack us.

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