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Domestic Surveillance: Liberty or Security?

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posted on Aug, 23 2006 @ 12:19 PM
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Hello my friends, I would like to start an open discourse on the viability of warrantless Domestic Surveillance in the United States. In case you are not up to speed on the Federal judge ruling on August 17th, in brief:


from Wikipedia (edit: foodnotes removed)
A federal judge ruled on August 17, 2006 (in the case of ACLU v. NSA), that the program violates the FISA statute enacted by Congress as well as the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution. She ordered a stop to the eavesdropping without warrants. However, the parties to the suit agreed that the program could continue until a hearing on the matter on September 7.


Further reading can be found below and and at other news sources.

www.npr.org...

www.cnn.com...

en.wikipedia.org...


Now, what I'd like to discuss is Bush's response. Hold on, this isn't a Bash Bush or Pro Bush thread, but rather I'd like to address his statement in response to the ruling.


from Bush (according to the L.A. Times)

"Those who heralded the decision not to give law enforcement the tools necessary to protect the American people simply don't see the world the way we do," - Bush





Now most of you know my personal views on the Bush administration, however, I cannot help but feel there may be a considerable grain of truth to his arguement against the ruling. It is a given by many here on ATS that the mainstream media flat out lies to us half the time, and misleads us the other half. While that may or may not be the case, then one must wonder where our information about the "reality" of the world does come from, and what makes us more qualified to judge what extreme measures are needed to combat terrorism than our government with all its intelligence agencies, technology, and so forth?

Now, that said, we still live in America.

So the question I present is this: Does the modern true state of the world neccessitate law enforcement tools previously considered unconstitutional, or has the Bush administration forgotten the fundamental rules of the country that they live in?

In other words, if it comes right down to it, and you HAVE to choose, will it be liberty or security? Are you willing to die, to have your families and closest loved ones die, to preserve the liberties we've held for centuries? If it came right down to it, and your spouse, child, or dearest companion were killed as the result of a terrorist action that could have been prevented through security at the expense of liberty, would your views change?

Me, personally... I believe our forefathers (and mothers and children) risked their own lives, died for, and killed for, the liberties that have been afforded to us by the Bill of Rights. Those rights are being tested once more, as they were over 200 years ago, 100 years ago, and 50 years ago... In each case it was neccessary to institute higher security at the temporary expense of liberty in order to get through those times, and when the dust settled, people backed off the security and we slid back towards liberty in the post-war euphoria.

But we are now locked in a war that never ends. It will never end. There isn't any one nation or people that we can point at and say "that's our enemy, and one day, they'll be defeated." Instead, what we have is a war of ideology and vengeance against a ghost, and an idea that will not soon die out. And the stakes of civilian casualties in that war are capable of hitting astronomical highs hitherto unimaginable by anyone.

So what are my views? If truly knew, I wouldn't have started this thread. All I know is that I don't want to see my beloved country become an Orwellian nightmare, but neither do I want suicide bombers to become so common in America as to become blasé news.

I sincerely hope for some good strong debate on this topic, and open the floor to replies.

(edit: forgot a major part of the question in bold "previously thought unconstitutional")

[edit on 8/23/2006 by thelibra]




posted on Aug, 23 2006 @ 12:26 PM
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All I have to say is this was told to us long ago by a person here.

Originally Stated By Benjamin Franklin
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

Just deal with it..

Say hello to 1939 gestapo, Hitler, SS era.

[edit on 8/23/2006 by ThichHeaded]



posted on Aug, 23 2006 @ 12:49 PM
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Here's a couple more questions. Did you even consider why the state of the world is what it is today?

Would you trust the same people/organisations to clean up the mess they created?

Besides, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Your chances of being the target of a terrorist attack are smaller than being hit by lightning, and you don't see a "war against bad weather".
.

[edit on 8/23/2006 by Gools]



posted on Aug, 23 2006 @ 02:11 PM
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Originally posted by ThichHeaded
All I have to say is this was told to us long ago by a person here.

Originally Stated By Benjamin Franklin
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.



Yes, yes, we're all quite familiar with the saying, and I'm sure there are few who would ever argue against the wisdom of Ben Franklin. However, cliches and phrases do not solve the immediate problem that terrorist threats pose, nor does it tell us how to preserve liberty without loss of life to terrorism or over-zealous security measures.

So rather than just quoting the mighty Franklin, how about some actual discussion?



Originally posted by Gools
Here's a couple more questions. Did you even consider why the state of the world is what it is today?


Many times. And I'd like to be able to point the finger at one person and say "it's their fault." But the truth is, it wasn't just one government, one organization, one person, one ideology, or one bad day that changed everything.

Terrorism is absolutley nothing new. The headlines about terrorism were as common and blatant 100 years ago as they are today.

The biggest difference is that nowadays terrorists have no qualms about taking civilian lives, whereas in previous eras, their targets were almost exclusively governmental or military offices. Civilian casualties were avoided at all possible costs because their causes depended ultimately upon the goodwill of the civilians on both sides of the conflict. Civilians could accept government or military casualties from terrorism because those people had already volunteered their lives in service to their countries. Civilians killed by terrorism had been offered no such choice. Thus, civilian casualties were rarely forgiven, and terrorists that resulted in such measures rarely found their causes fully realized.

But now we've entered an era where the terrorist identifies even civilian workers as being targets, and happily destroys civilian lives to support their cause, and the civilians on at least one of the sides cheer them on. Terrorism itself has taken a new face. Terrorists are the ones who pull the trigger or activate the bomb. Terrorists are the ones who make the choice to brutally murder innocent civilians.

Always remember that. No matter who armed them, no matter who's foreign trade policy messed with who, no matter whose sanctions, alliances, etc,... it was the terrorist who ultimately decided to take an innocent life. So if you want to know who I ultimately place the blame on, it is them.



Originally posted by Gools
Would you trust the same people/organisations to clean up the mess they created?


Yeah. I have to. At least until we elect new ones. Who else is gonna do it? You? By all means, if you know a solution and are willing and able to implement it, then by god what are you waiting for??? Otherwise, yeah, we pretty much have to.



Originally posted by Gools
Besides, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Your chances of being the target of a terrorist attack are smaller than being hit by lightning, and you don't see a "war against bad weather".


Actually, yeah, we kinda do have a war against bad weather going. Because of the FEMA fiasco with Katrina, and the almost as big fiasco with the Houston evacuation later, and hurricane season approaching while the coastal cities hit last season haven't even finished rebuilding, and the army corps of engineers being dispatched to said areas to figure out what could be done differently, and Texas facing water rationing due to a now 2-year long drought, we kinda DO have a war against bad weather going.

As for the chances of being hit by a terrorist attack being that of being hit by lightning, let's compare the numbers.

According to www.usatoday.com... the chances of being struck by lightning are 1 in 700,000.

According to www.cia.gov...
the population of the United States is 295,734,134.

If you take only the lowest estimate of 9/11's casualties (3000) and divide the population of the United States by it, you get 98579 (rounded up because you don't generally have "fractions" of people). So I'm afraid that, at a base minimum, you are AT LEAST eight times more likely to die of a terrorist act than by lightning.



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 04:39 AM
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What ticks me off about domestic spying, they know my grocery shopping habits, who I call, etc.
But they can't seem to stop ID theft.

Why in the world don't they use some of the compiled data to ferret out illegal activity against me. I'm tired of feeling under the gun. I think I'll go on a site with a lot of flashy signs and enter all of my info.



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 05:10 AM
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before there is any loss of freedoms, our government should be doing all they can to protect us in the ways that don't cost us our freedom. this is what gets me. they've let God only knows who cross our border all these years since 9/11 and didn't seem to take border security seriously until public groups decided to do their job for them.....but they were spending countless man hours and dollars to trample our constitutional rights...
one can argue that we can't keep every potential terrorist out but then, the government can't catch every bit of relevant information running across the phone lines either. so the arguement is rather lame, isn't it? if we are willing to give up our freedoms and liberties, then we should be willing to take ALL avenues available to protect our nation. border security is a big avenue that it would seem would be the first one to be addresses.

It wasn't, they value their cheap labor above our liberties and freedoms...


by the way, the judge that ruled, she is a board member and trustee to a group that donated something like 45,000 dollars to the aclu....so, well, they might be some conflict of interest here.


[edit on 24-8-2006 by dawnstar]



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 11:24 AM
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Originally posted by bothered
What ticks me off about domestic spying, they know my grocery shopping habits, who I call, etc.
But they can't seem to stop ID theft.


(blink). That's a damned good point! I guess if they turned their attention away from foreign terrorism and concentrated on ID theft, we'd probably save more money lost from fraudulent charges, AS WELL AS help stem funding for terrorist groups (which a lot of ID thieves do).

Of course, the strongest deterrent (note, not cure) to this would be requiring something like a biometric ID card that requires a thumbprint or something to activate, but every new form of identification brings a whole new stigma of "mark of the beast" or NWO sorta thing. The problem is, protecting really well against anything (terrorism, ID Theft, etc...) all results in the same thing: resistance by someone afraid of what that protection can be abused for. Which isn't to say that's a bad thing, but rather an obstacle we face in the fight against...well...anything, really.

Regardless, I'd be a lot more willing to support 200 billion dollars to go towards fighting ID theft (in an intelligent way) than I would for a war in a place we didn't belong that never attacked us.



Originally posted by dawnstar
before there is any loss of freedoms, our government should be doing all they can to protect us in the ways that don't cost us our freedom. this is what gets me. they've let God only knows who cross our border all these years since 9/11 and didn't seem to take border security seriously until public groups decided to do their job for them.....but they were spending countless man hours and dollars to trample our constitutional rights...


Out of curiosity, are you speaking of a border wall? Cause that worries me as well (walls can be used to keep citizens in as well as immigrants out).


Originally posted by dawnstar
by the way, the judge that ruled, she is a board member and trustee to a group that donated something like 45,000 dollars to the aclu....so, well, they might be some conflict of interest here.


Aw snap. I hope that's not the case, cause if it is... it only gives far more weight to the argument of domestic surveillance. I can see the quote now...

"See? If we'd had Domestic Surveillance on that judge, we'd have known it was a conflict of interest before the ruling."

Whew. This is gonna be a stinker.



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 11:28 AM
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Personally - I would rather live in a world of blissful ignorance rather than an Orwellian Nightmare of overprotection.

I don't mind the survillience as much as I do the constant reminders of it.

It interferes with my ability to focus on the simple and beautiful things in life because "war", "terrorism" and my "civil liberties" are always being pushed to the forefront of my conciousness.



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 12:17 PM
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Personally speaking, I'd feel a little better about this under a different presidential administration. Not necessarily a Democrat -- just not a neocon Rapture-Republican bunch. That way, I'd be a little more assured that this was actually about tracking and catching terrorists.

Despite all the Bush administration's protestations as to why they require these extraordinary powers, the same thought keeps occurring to me:

They're going to train this mighty apparatus on us, the American people, in a never-ending series of "fishing expeditions."

After all, this is the administration that subpoenaed Google, looking for pornography users. No doubt other people on their enemy list will find themselves similarly scrutinized. Perhaps members of the Sierra Club will have to be investigated, for presumed links to "eco-terrorists." PGP users, because only people with something to hide encrypt their e-mail. Anti-war activists, because "they're with the terrorists." Abortion-rights activists, gay-rights activists, high school biology teachers, pot smokers, Playboy magazine subscribers, Harry Potter readers, liberal bloggers, Howard Stern listeners, Wiccans, registered Democrats... who knows? I'm sure Bush's masters in the right-wing Christian nation can give him a shopping list.

I don't mean to sound like a paranoid wacko, but I have not a single doubt in my entire being the something like this will occur.


Baack

[edit on 8/24/06 by Baack]



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 01:45 PM
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Originally posted by GENERAL EYES
I don't mind the survillience as much as I do the constant reminders of it.


I completely understand and agree. Before 9/11, I just assumed the government listened in on calls if you were a target. I just assumed that bad guys were tortured for info if there was a "24" type scenario, and then killed the terrorist afterward. I just assumed there were secret prisons out there, somewhere, that held people the US Government never wanted us to know about. I assumed that sometimes the MIBs picked people up and took them away to said prisons, to be tortured, and the people they squealed about were monitored.

And I was cool with that, believe it or not. I was cool with it because it was illegal enough that if it was ever used but in the rarest of circumstances for the most dire of reasons, then heads would roll and it was a crime that could conceivably bring down the Presidency. The use of it would have to be so discreet, so controlled, that it could never be deployed on a wide scale. And I myself would never be a target because I really don't do anything wrong, except have an opinion, which those in power wouldn't care about anyway.

But now, with it becoming an institution as well as an "assumed priviledge" of the Executive Branch, I am very much not cool with it. I don't like precedent set to allow the government any more power than it needs for the three most basic functions it was meant for: To establish a common currency for trade, maintain a system of justice for criminal and civil crimes, and to protect us in times of war, and maybe a bit of infrastructure. The rest should be out of their hands.

And yet, it can be reasonably argued that these domestic surveillance measures are now neccessary tools for the protection of America against very real and present threats both from within and without. And I can even deal with that, even though I don't like it. Make a series of laws around it. Encapsulate it so that, should the power be abused, there is established recourse and recompense. If Joe Smith ends up tagged and bagged by Domestic Surveillance when he was actually innocent, he should be granted full pardon, the arrest stricken from his record, and some degree of recompense for damages made, be it the termination of those who made the mistake, or monetary payment.



Originally posted by Baack
Personally speaking, I'd feel a little better about this under a different presidential administration. Not necessarily a Democrat -- just not a neocon Rapture-Republican bunch. That way, I'd be a little more assured that this was actually about tracking and catching terrorists.

(snip)

I don't mean to sound like a paranoid wacko, but I have not a single doubt in my entire being the something like this will occur.


I agree with your thoughts about the current administration wholeheartedly, but I'd rather this not turn into a bash Bush thread, because I want serious consideration from both sides of the fence. As best I can tell from the rules in this forum, we kinda have to pretend he doesn't exist unless it's a direct quote or factoid. Truthiness notwithstanding.

However, I would probably be just as put off by any administration attempting this. One of the reasons I didn't vote for Gore, way back when, was because Lieberman, his running mate, had some really ugly ideas about increasing censorship, and I have a real problem with any government official who wants to tamper with rights I was born with.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." — Robert Heinlein

Anyway, Yeah... I'm still on the fence...



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 02:23 PM
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TheLibra - very good post and some very valid points are made.

Supposedly the 'illegal' wiretaps helped with the recent supposed terrorist events in England.

The main problem being, inregards to the wiretaps, is that there are individuals who push inncorret 'facts'. These people are in places of power (senate, congress) or individuals of political influence. The 'illegal' wire taps were not being used on everyday Americans - only on overseas calls from suspected terrorists. Certain individuals bend the 'facts' to suit certain purposes.

Also the 'illegal' monitoring of that forgein exchange helped expose the lastest terrorist events in England.

I guess a major question would be:

Would the 'supposed' bombing of 10 airliners been foiled if these two programs were not being used?

I don't know........................should these programs be stopped to see if airlines get blown-up? That will also have a negative effect on the current administration.


[edit on 24-8-2006 by ferretman2]



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 02:36 PM
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Actually, with as much controversy surrounding domestic spying, I've as yet to hear something being stopped.
The airliners were stopped due to suspicious behaviour.

I wonder if the Freedom of Information Act can be employed after a threat is determined unsubstantial to see the level of concern was warranted.

Of course, the odds of that happening are NILL to NONE.



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 03:16 PM
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Originally posted by ferretman2
The 'illegal' wire taps were not being used on everyday Americans - only on overseas calls from suspected terrorists. Certain individuals bend the 'facts' to suit certain purposes.


And see, this brings to mind the idea the whole bank transaction monitoring and an extensive interview of Stuart Levey (Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury) by NPR's Robert Siegel.

The exact interview can be heard here (and I highly recommend it):
www.npr.org...

However, the gist of it went something like this...

NPR: Now say I were a Pakistani immigrant, in America on work visa. Due to a similarity with my name, I'd had trouble getting through security in Airports, and I was wiring money back home to my family in Pakistan. Would I show up or be flagged as a potential terrorist suspect by a filter?

Levey: No. A search like that would be like fishing in the Atlantic with a net the size of Australia. Our searches are much much more precise. What instead we would be looking for would be more along the lines of deposits into a specific account that was being used by an orphanage that has been historically known to churn out generation after generation of terrrorists. Such places are the early recruiting grounds for terrorism, and often handle the education, discipline, and training of terrorists until such time as they are old enough to join the cause. That's about as broad a search as one could get.

NPR: That's the ideal situation, but what if the ability to run searches were abused, as was the case in New York with so'n'so...

Levey: Our searches are monitored by SWIFT managers the entire time. If there is any question by a SWIFT manager that our searches are not being used precisely for the specific task we told them it was being used for, they can write up the Treasury agent for review. In fact, this has already happened once, and the Treasury agent in question lost their jobs. That was what happened in New York, and it was summarily dealt with immediately. Out of the hundreds of thousands of searches that had been run previously, this was the only reported case of abuse. Statistically, that's rather good.

__________________________

Now, two things about this conversation spring to mind.

One is, of course, what happens when a well meaning person picks an orphanage at random and donates to it and is then picked up by the search? Presumably, from the way Levey spoke, it sounds like the person's other transactions would be scanned to see if they led to any other known terrorist funding groups. If they did, then they would dig deeper. If not, then it would be considered a dead end, but the person's accounts and tracking of their footprints wouldn't kick in unless they'd also donated funds to other terrorist accounts.

The second thing that occurs to me is that the definition of what constitutes a terrorist-funding group could be open to interpretation by the government, and that the general public gets no knowledge of it. Say you felt generous and decided one day to donate $500 to a charity as a tax writeoff, and were just ignorant enough to do zero looking into the charity you were funding. Say that charity happens to be one that supports an orphanage known for training terrorists from childhood. Then say you wanted to go browse some porn and subscribed to a website...that also happened to be a front for terrorist funding, and/or had your identity stolen by a terrorist funding organization?

Now I honestly would understand if someone that unlucky were tagged and bagged by the government and interrogated. I really would. If I were the chump in question, I'd probably shrug and say "I'm sorry, but you got the wrong guy. I was just generous, horny, and unlucky, all in the same day," and I would hope that would be the end of it. If they really wanted to get ugly, I'd hope that a lawyer and a fair trial would sort out the truth.

But it can't, because thanks to GITMO and gag-orders, you are not allowed a lawyer, a trial, a defense, or even to explain why you were suddenly dragged out of work and arrested in front of everyone. In fact, some of the suspects have been bagged for four years with no outside contact or even their families being made aware of where they've gone to. And that, I do have a very big problem with. What happens when, after five years of being asked, day in, day out, you are finally released, jobless, homeless, your wife having left you and remarried because you were presumed dead...

So I guess my real fear is that there is zero accountability for human error when it's on the grand FUBAR scale. The innocents whom become terrorist by their own government have zero recourse.


Originally posted by ferretman2
I guess a major question would be:

Would the 'supposed' bombing of 10 airliners been foiled if these two programs were not being used?

I don't know........................should these programs be stopped to see if airlines get blown-up? That will also have a negative effect on the current administration.



And see, there lies the rub. It works. Obviously. Of course there are also those who will be in the camp of "it worked because they staged the Britain hijacking thing like they did 9/11" but if we are to assume that about everything, there's no point talking constitutionality anymore, but rather revolution.

Soooo... 10 airliners saved... lots of interviewees of the intelligence agencies keep saying "We can't tell you what we've stopped, but trust us, you'd rather not know" and the feasibility of any situation "24" can cook up...all very appetizing reasons to sacrifice further liberties... and, as I believe one poster has already asked, what freedoms, specifically, have we lost since Homeland Security took over the national infrastructure?

The right to privacy? That's already been lost. Even with Homeland Security, corporations like AOL are leaking all materials neccessary to steal an identity for half a million people every month now. It barely makes the news when another list of a few hundred thousand people's social security numbers, bank accounts, signatures, billing statements, credit card numbers, etc, are all given free to the world. Between being on security camera every where you go, leaving a digital trail for every purchase, being profiled and your purchase history stored in a Wal Mart Data Processing center somewhere (just waiting to be leaked)... privacy in any regard other than modesty is nothing but an illusion. Frankly, I'd rather have to walk around naked than have all my identification so easily stolen, but modesty is the only real privacy we have left.

So what else have we lost? Free Speech? Well... sorta...kinda... You can't really disagree with the current administration without being stoned from the pulpit if you are a political or military figure. If you are a journalist, you cannot speak ill of Israel or your career is over. If you are a Media company, you cannot post any image of Muhammed or Allah. And you still can't shout "Fire" in a crowded theatre... but how life altering are those limitations to the majority of us civilians?

I dunno... sometimes it seems like not such a bad idea, and then I get back to thinking about how it can, has been, and will be abused.



posted on Aug, 24 2006 @ 07:43 PM
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it's beem abused once (NY). I do not know of any reporter, polictical leader or military personnel that has been 'degraded' due to actually factual information. When the facts are fabricated to fit a certain adgenda then there is a problem.

(Don't anyone bring up Iraq, germany, russia, france england and the us government thought WMD's were there......regardless Sadamm was in violation of the terms agreed to after the 91 gulf war)

Social Security numbers are a joke......it is supposed to be the most important number for a persons life....yet just about everything require one to write it down....alot. Think how many times you have written your ss number in your life.



posted on Aug, 25 2006 @ 10:39 AM
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Originally posted by ferretman2
it's beem abused once (NY). I do not know of any reporter, polictical leader or military personnel that has been 'degraded' due to actually factual information. When the facts are fabricated to fit a certain adgenda then there is a problem.


Oh, I can. I don't know the actual names, I'd have to go research them, but a lot of people lost their jobs when they disagreed with Bush after 9/11. I'll try and get a list if anyone cares. Or if someone else already has one, that'd be great.


Originally posted by ferretman2
(Don't anyone bring up Iraq, germany, russia, france england and the us government thought WMD's were there......regardless Sadamm was in violation of the terms agreed to after the 91 gulf war)


Yeah, but violations of the 91 treaty are not the reason our troops were sent to war. Neither was the removal of Saddham, or the liberation or Iraq. We were told there was a clear and present danger in the form of lots of WMDs, and we didn't wait for the inspectors to finish their job, nor was the data fact-checked very well, nor were our military allies convinced there was a need to invade. I don't buy into the whole oil thing, Iraq provides less than 3% of the oil we use in the U.S. --I just think it was piss-poor data analysis, planning, and execution... and also several thousand miles off-target. We should have been in Afghanistan, getting the real terrorists, not stirring up an antbed for false pretenses.


Originally posted by ferretman2
Social Security numbers are a joke......it is supposed to be the most important number for a persons life....yet just about everything require one to write it down....alot. Think how many times you have written your ss number in your life.


A lot, but SSNs are hardly a joke if yours is found by someone else and used for ID theft.



posted on Aug, 25 2006 @ 11:17 AM
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Its a difficult decision to make.

In my opinion, I do not think the threat of dying from a terrorist attack is any greater than the thousands of other threats that we face daily. I'm more worried about that guy driving towards me while talking on his cell phone, or that virus that I just got or the other more relevant factors currently facing me. I'm not trying to downplay the fact that there is a threat from terrorism, that has just become the world that we live in, however, we have to ask if that threat any greater than all the other threats that we face? I dont think it is.
One thing is greater though, the fear associated with that threat is greater, and who likes to live in fear? Because of this fear i think the majority of people will be willing to give up their liberties, even if its totally unwarranted.

The real issue, is why have we let the threat of something that will most likely never effect us daily determine something that will affect all of us daily, which is our liberties? They may not be gone now, but all it takes is another ineviatble attack for people to willingly give them up, and when they do, is that any guarantee that life will be better? Just my view.

[edit on 25-8-2006 by xEphon]




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