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Give Up Liberties for Security? No Thanks

Apparently the pollsters who conducted the new CNN/Time/ORC International Poll that indicates that 4 out of 10 Americans are willing to give up some civil liberties to fight terrorism didn’t contact too many CHQ readers.

Surveillance cameraWhen we conducted our own – admittedly unscientific – online poll on the same subject, we asked “Do you believe we need to relinquish more freedom for the sake of security?”

The overwhelming response was “NO.”

Of those responding to our poll, 88 percent said no, the current laws are enough and giving up more freedom likely won’t help. Only 11 percent said yes, we need to do whatever it takes, even if it means infringement of privacy, while 1 percent of those responding were unsure.

What is most interesting about the CNN poll is that while the network seems to be touting the results as justification for more surveillance and government intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens, when you drill down into the results, the respondents really don’t seem to favor what the government might actually do to fight terrorism.

According to the CNN poll, only 30 percent want the government to increase monitoring of cell phone and email conversations to prevent terrorist acts. Slightly more than half, 55 percent, favor law enforcement monitoring of online chat rooms and other forums.

Earth to the 45 percent that does not favor government monitoring of chat rooms and other forums: intelligence agencies are already doing that for terrorism, as is law enforcement for child pornography and solicitation of children for sex and other crimes.

When it comes to security versus personal freedoms, Americans still seem to be torn between liking the idea of more security while objecting to the specific things the government might do to enhance it.

According to the CNN poll, 81 percent favor expanding use of cameras on streets and in public places. NewsMax reports that's up 20 points since 2001. The CNN poll also says seventy-nine percent favor using facial-recognition technology to search for suspected terrorists at public events.

Yet Americans routinely oppose traffic enforcement through red light cameras and many local officials who have installed red light cameras have found themselves rapidly backpedaling in the face of voter anger over the intrusion into their privacy.

Back when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) law was being extended and amended, the liberal Washington Post, which normally has a strong commitment to privacy in such matters as say one’s preference in books, came out strongly in favor of the legislation, saying the law was, “…a compromise between two essential goals: preserving American liberty and robustly defending Americans’ lives and property.”

The law, and its secret interpretation which is known only to the government due to security clearance procedures, allows the government to monitor cellphone, email and other electronic communications – exactly those things that 70 percent of the public opposes.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing it seems that CNN, by pushing this poll as evidence of public support for more government surveillance, is joining The Washington Post in their willingness to compromise liberty in the defense thereof.

If the great institutions of the establishment media won’t stand-up for liberty and privacy, their defense must fall upon the people and those few in Congress who are willing to act in the spirit of former Congressman Ron Paul in refusing to compromise essential liberty for a little temporary security.

For those interested in the details of the CNN/Time/ORC International Poll, they may be found online at

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While the country is swarming with millions of illegal aliens, and no real border security, they have the gall to spy on American citizens?