Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Surveillance works

  1. Aug 11, 2006 #1

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    After the news yesterday of British, Pakistani and US surveillance thwarting a terrorist plot that would have killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children. How do you feel about surveillance now?

    Here is a good op-ed piece that basically recaps what happened and also reminds us of the thwarted attacks in Toronto two months ago thanks to surveillance.

    I have never been against surveillance or record gathering, I have nothing to hide and do not suffer from paranoia that the govermenment would give a hairy rats @ss what I'm doing. We live in dangerous times. There are nuts out there and we have to give the people we pay to protect us the ability to protect us.

    Do you think the government should not have used surveillance and the death of thousands of innocents is acceptable because we have a right to our privacy and a few thousands deaths now and then is just the price we have to pay?

    http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20060810-084233-1883r.htm
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2006 #2
    I don't think it is so much what the government is doing with the intel now but what they may do in the future. Who will be in charge and will their motives be sinister in nature. This surveillance has also been used to uncover money flows that were once hidden. I doubt the IRS wouldn't use this kind of information to their advantage if they needed to.
     
  4. Aug 11, 2006 #3

    NateTG

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    According to the article, US government surveilance restrictions and oversight should be decreased because British intelligence services were able to foil a terrorist plot.

    What a pile of tripe.
    Um, how does foiling the plot (i.e. success) indicate that more powers or resources are necessary? I'd think that would be an indication that the resources were (at least in this case) clearly sufficient.

    Moreover, the article is clearly conflating a lack of oversight with the existance of an effective surveilance program, when, realistically speaking, the opposite is more likely to be true.

    Why add a couple of yellow ribbons, US flags, the passage "will somebody think of the children", and play "god bless america" in the background?

    P.S.
    Barring some interesting chemistry, it's unlikely that the passengers would be incinerated by a bomb the size of a sports drink bottle. It's much more likely that they'd be killed by the impact with the water, or drowned afterwards.
     
  5. Aug 11, 2006 #4

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well the IRS has always has an incredible amount of information on us.

    There is always the chance that someone could use information the wrong way, or obtain it in questionable ways. I don't feel that I am at any personal risk from any information the government has on me. I don't live in fear of it. I think they have more important things to track. My bank records and finances have never been secret.
     
  6. Aug 11, 2006 #5

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That wasn't in the article I posted. My article said it was a joint effort of British, Pakistani and US. Please post a link to the article you are talking about.

    Again, that wasn't in the article I posted, it suggests that what happened is a good reason to continue the current programs. Please post a link to the article you are referring to.

    What article are you reading? Did you even read the article I posted? Doesn't sound like it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2006
  7. Aug 11, 2006 #6

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    In short, I agree with everything you said.

    I flat-out don't understand people's desire for privacy. If it helps the FBI catch a criminal, they can have at my phone lines, bank records, whatever. As long as the use of the information is legit, there is no harm in the gathering of it.
     
  8. Aug 11, 2006 #7

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not sure what your point is here...
     
  9. Aug 11, 2006 #8
    It's called separation of powers. When countries adhere to this model the tax agency can't use the information gathered by agencies dealing with terrorism.
     
  10. Aug 11, 2006 #9

    Bystander

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

  11. Aug 11, 2006 #10

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't understand what you mean. You're already required by law to provide the IRS whatever info it needs to assess your compliance with tax law.
     
  12. Aug 11, 2006 #11

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't understand what you're trying to say here.

    Are you saying that the IRS can't use information gathered by the surveilance of terrorists? That's not what we're dicussing.

    Law enforcement agencies can get financial records of suspects, this appears to be one of the methods used in yesterdays arrest, also the bank accounts of all the suspects have been frozen.

    Do you know that one of America's most notorious criminals, Al Capone was sentenced to prison, not for any of his crimes, but for tax evasion. But let's stay on topic.
     
  13. Aug 11, 2006 #12

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not sure I follow your logic. Reid was a joke because he was caught, right? This operation appears to have had more significant planning and I would think it would have had better odds of success.
     
  14. Aug 11, 2006 #13
    Where do we draw the line though? For instance, would you be comfortable with surveillance inside your home. Do you think they should have the right to audit any aspect of your life as long as it is done within the confines of due process? I know if there is a criminal investigation the government has tremendous power to delve into my life but it is the compilation and archival of this information that worries me. Who is entitled to look at it? What assurances does the government give that that this information will not get out? Several banks and even the VA have had information compromised because of simple theft of laptops.
     
  15. Aug 11, 2006 #14

    Bystander

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You've never had the "privilege" of TA-ing chem labs when there were a few Moslems in the class --- one hand on the chain to the safety shower at all times --- other on the first aid kit. "Dangerous?" Yes. A "threat?" No. Reid was "a joke" because Reid was a joke. Buncha religious nuts with copies of "the anarchists' cookbook?" Slapstick. Let 'em run loose on airliners making the other passengers ill as they turn themselves into "Phantoms of the Opera?" No. Was it a "sophisticated" plot? No. Did it take Sherlock Holmes to expose it? No. Could the "Keystone Kops" have spotted the idiots? Eehhh --- mebbe, mebbe not. Was it "good" police work, the kind of thing people are paid to do? Yeah. Is it outside the bounds of "habeas corpus?" Depends on how good their lawyers are. Should they be strung up? Yup. Will they be? Nope.
     
  16. Aug 11, 2006 #15
    Many people believe the government should choose where to draw that line, the desire to feel safe often outweighs the motivation to ponder such details which can easily lead to feeling less safe.
     
  17. Aug 11, 2006 #16
    I have no problems with the concept of surveillance, but I do have problems with surveillance by one branch without proper oversight by either of the other two (or both in some cases). It has been shown in our own history time and again that one branch, unchecked and in the hands of a few paranoid few, can create an atmosphere of fear to rival the fear that can be created by terrorists.
     
  18. Aug 11, 2006 #17
    Are you forgetting that they dont need to blow everyone up, only bring down the plane. Now a drinks bottle or 3 is enought to do that for sure, or they wouldnt be bothering with all the extra checks.

    Increased surveillance is good provided its done properly and respectfully, and the information is delt with carefully and securley.
     
  19. Aug 11, 2006 #18
    When was that time?
     
  20. Aug 11, 2006 #19
    How about the McCarthy era for one?
     
  21. Aug 11, 2006 #20

    BobG

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    And as long as none of the data is left on a laptop that is stolen? Veteran's Affairs Breach

    As long as government officials don't decide all of your personal info dating back to 1978 should be public knowledge? Broward County Data Breach (Then again, this is the same Broward County of Recount 2000 fame. Perk up, those people's personal info will only be available until sometime in 2007, so if you want to steal their info for identity theft, better hurry!)

    As long as your legal media doesn't take 'freedom of the press' too far? Boston Globe Data Breach (tacky joke :frown: - it was the same kind of mistake any business could have made).

    As long as your college's computer isn't hacked? Ohio University Data Breach (fifth data breach reported by OU since April 21 of this year - although the real reason is OU taking a closer look since their first data breach).

    Then again, why hack when your college could just e-mail out your personal data? A Chronology of Data Breaches Reported Since the ChoicePoint Incident (Scroll down to Dec 15, 2005. An employee was supposed to e-mail out Winter class schedules to past students in an attempt to entice them to reattend. Instead, the employee e-mailed out the personal data of individuals enrolled for Winter classes. Suddenly, your private personal info is nothing more than spam to annoy people with! :rofl: )

    Hmm, :uhh: , you might have a point at that. Is there anyone left whose personal info hasn't already been released to the public, whether that public be law enforcement, tax enforcement, or identity thieves?

    I wouldn't pretend to be an expert on the laws about surveillance in the UK, but I think they're a little bit less restrictive than the laws in the US. They've compromised their right to privacy to better combat the IRA.

    The author was suggesting the US should do likewise in order to better combat terrorism.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?