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White House Deletes TSA Petition (epic.org)
281 points by shill 1443 days ago | hide | past | web | 103 comments | favorite



Nonsensical sensationalism. The petition expired, and didn't get 25,000 signitures. Should it have gotten special preference because it got on the front page of Reddit and Hackernews? No. Should you have signed it 2 days ago instead of upvoting this article hoping that somebody else would? Yes.

Here's where it says clearly what happened: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require-transporta...


From the article: "The White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition."

This is distinct, by the way, from a separate outage for maintenance: "The site ALSO went down for 'maintenance' following a Wired article that sought support for the campaign." (Emphasis added.)


The article clearly claims the White House removed it BEFORE its expiration time. On the other hand, the White House page looks like a boilerplate 404 with no mentions of start and end times.


Okay, here's my question:

Regardless of whether "the Administration" cut this petition short or not, what is the benefit of keeping the TSA around?

No, no, I don't mean because they're ineffective or violating our rights or anything like that (although those points are valid as well) -- my question is what is the political motivation for keeping the TSA intact?

Sure, you could argue that some conservatives (that hate everything Obama does anyway) would get more riled up about "helping the terrorists," but those people will never vote democrat anyway.

In fact, you could even argue that some die-hard conservatives would applaud Obama for ending the violation of citizens' rights.

If the government knows how ineffective the TSA is (and always has been), and how much most people dislike the organization, does it make sense to hold out on the TSA until it gets closer an election, then dissolve it? Is the TSA still active as an ace-up-the-sleeve of political clout?

If not, what is the political reason for keeping them around? I really can't figure it out.


The political motivation for keeping the TSA intact is that if you abolish the TSA and there's a terror attack or high-profile crime involving an airplane or airport, your political opponents can say "Sen. So-And-So put us at risk by being soft on terrorism."

(Please keep in mind the truth of such a claim has little bearing on the political calculus, and that we can't count on an arbitrary politician to correctly calibrate the likelihood of an airborne terrorist attack post 9/11.)


[deleted]


Really? It was really asking too much to ask you to read the second sentence of my post?

Your reply has nothing to do with what can be said by a political opponent.

The OP asked "what is the political motivation for keeping the TSA intact." I answered. If you want to rebut my political analysis, fine. This particular thread is not about the actual efficacy of the TSA.

[Originally used more jerkish language. Sorry.]


Your comment is also pure speculation. Has anyone ever abolished the TSA and then been not elected for being soft on terrorism? If not, why do you think that will happen?

Or are you saying, politicians think there will be backlash and therefore stick to the status quo?

(THIS is a 30k+ karma HN reader? -Forehead slap.- )

This is why it's recommended to not post linkbait political articles like this. But it's Saturday and it happens. You shouldn't expect much intelligent discourse, because there are no facts, only speculation.


I apologize for the karma comment, it was a jerk thing to do so I removed it. Sorry.

That said, I really wish you wouldn't take the thread wildly offtopic, I was just trying to answer the guy's question. And I honestly wonder if you read my second sentence.

>Your comment is also pure speculation

It's informed speculation, but is it so far out on a limb to say politicians are risk-averse and want to avoid being seen as soft on terrorists? Obama in particular is keen to dodge right-wing charges that he is weak on, actively likes (!), or IS (!!) a terrorist.

>are you saying, politicians think there will be backlash and therefore stick to the status quo?

I am saying politicians believe abolishing the TSA is risky, and possibly beneficial for their opponents. The risk is enough to outweigh the political benefits to them from such a move. That is why a critical mass stick to the status quo. It is very easy for a politician to understand why he wants to avoid being seen as soft on terrorism. It is harder for a politician to understand why he should stick his neck out on airport hassles. This is about odds and costs and benefits, not about people being certain in a binary way that something will or will not happen.

If enough politicians come to believe that favoring the abolition of the TSA could motivate voters to their side, they will favor that policy. In other words, I'm not saying the TSA is with us forever, I'm just trying to help explain why it's still with us.


That said, I really wish you wouldn't take the thread wildly offtopic, I was just trying to answer the guy's question. And I honestly wonder if you read my second sentence.

You know what, that's a good point. I'm deleting the initial comment. It's not adding to the discussion at all.

No worries about the karma comment either. You're right that I should hold myself to a higher standard. Or start reading Reddit again.

I'll leave these around so nobody gets too confused.


Conversations sometimes go off the rails. Kudos to you both for pulling the plug rather than turning up the juice.


>> but I think our only hope is for an "incident" that shows how pointless this all is.

That would be held up as proof to clearly indicate that the current measures do not go far enough. More tax$$ would be spent, more rights destroyed.

This is how classic terrorism expects to 'win' - By forcing reactionary measures that oppress the populace to the point they rise up and liberate themselves. It rarely works historically and certainly won't in the US.


> But bombs, real and fake, get past the TSA on a regular basis.

Look this isn't Reddit where you can just make up any nonsense.

If you are going to make statements like this have some proof.


[deleted]


Right so you only have one actual example of a serious breach there post 9/11 (when the TSA changes were made).

And no the screening doesn't have to be 100%. It never will be nor does anyone seriously think it will be.


Just Google "TSA test fail" or something similar. There's enough real news coverage.


I've got a similar question from a slightly different position. What would happen if the government dissolved the TSA? There would still be airport screening, it would just go back to the airlines or individual airports. And some would be better, some worse, than the TSA. And there would still be regulations on what the individual screening groups must do (so we would still probably have the body scanners, enhanced pat downs, etc). And all that would be absolutely necessary, since the reason the TSA (and enhanced security) was put in was to keep the public confidence up so that they would continue to fly. Because not enough people flying, airlines go under, and we would really be in trouble with limited travel options. Most point-to-point routes would be eliminated, and you would have to get to your destination airport, rent a car, and drive another several hours to get to where your are going.


If the TSA went away it wouldn't lead to more terrorism, contractors would resume TSA duties as they do in some airports already. However, since the TSA in now unionized and the private contractors were not, it's a big deal for Obama because he counts on union contributions for his campaign.

It has nothing to do with security. The TSA hasn't caught a single terrorist or attempted terrorist during its entire tenure. Blaming the private screeners for 9-11 is a bit unfair because, if the TSA were operating under the same pre-9-11 rules, those guys would have made it on the plane as well.

The TSA is also Janet "Big Sis" Napolitano's most visible way of exerting her own need for power. She obsessed with her fiefdom and the perks it provides. Obama also wouldn't dare cross Napolitano as it's clear she'd be able to body slam him without a second thought.


Most people believe the TSA is effective and is keeping us safe from terrorists. You'd need a way to convince everyone that it's not true to avoid the backlash.


Most people don't have an opinion on the issue either way.


Actually you're wrong.

Only 4% of people recently polled have no opinion on whether the TSA is doing a good job or not.


Is this a real poll? Why do you think you can just say that without qualifying it?

Another recent poll shows that less than 4% of statistics are based on real data.

Edit: Found it here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/156491/Americans-Views-TSA-Positi...

Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults. Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 9-12, 2012, with a random sample of 1,014 adults.

Landlines huh? Sounds like old conservative people.


Gallup is highly respected and aren't stupid. If you actually continued reading:

"Samples are WEIGHTED by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number)."


What does Hispanic ethnicity have to do with anything?


A decent question! Another question - read the results here: http://www.gallup.com/file/poll/156494/TSA_Air_Travel_120808...

What does smoking or drinking have to do with this poll?


Really?? I find that astonishing. Do you have a citation?


It would be just as fair to get a citation for any claim that most people think otherwise...


54% of people recently polled believe that the TSA is doing a Good or Excellent job. Only 12% of people believe they are doing a bad job.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/156491/Americans-Views-TSA-Positi...


Downvoted? Yes, it's bad news, but let's not shoot the messenger, shall we?


It could be an economic reason, as in increasing the sense of flyer 'security' (despite being an utter failure). Consumer thinks, "I exposed myself so that I can feel safe thinking everyone else was also exposed." Consumer is invested.

It could also be a political barometer to our collective response to an increasing police state.


To be productive, your question should be about the political costs of being seen to destroy the TSA. This will also answer the question about the political motivation for keeping it.

Consider also the reasons it was created (the real reasons) and the context in which it was created


You will ALWAYS need a TSA. Every country has one.

The question is in what form it is and what its role is.


No, what we need is having El Al run security for America's airports. Those guys don't play around and it's why El Al is the safest airline in the sky.


Two reasons that's not going to happen:

(i) As annoying as the TSA is, it is strictly speaking probably Constitutional; what they are doing falls under the "administrative search" category of "reasonable" under the 4th Amendment: (a) applied uniformly to all passengers, (b) tailored to specific administrative needs (ie, keeping explosives and weapons off planes), and (c) in some defensible way limited or minimal. They are pushing it with the body scanners, but who knows. El Al relies heavily on profiling; profiled searches are by definition not administrative, since they're done on suspicion.

(ii) The TSA recruits people with advertisements on pizza boxes. El Al security personnel are trained (ie expensive) enough to do sophisticated subtextual behavior analysis while questioning people at length 1-on-1.


To be fair, though, the total air traffic in and out of Israel is relatively small. It's comparable to a decent regional US airport, such as Sacramento.

Generally, security in a big operation is harder than security in a small operation. It's not at all clear that El Al's methods would work when applied to a system the size of the US.


I was wondering the same thing. If there is some sort of conspiracy to keep the TSA alive no matter what, what would be the point. What's the end-game here?

Perhaps the government has some sort of investment in Pepsi Co. and that's why you're not allowed to liquids on the plane anymore.


First and foremost, deliberately or not, you are good at manipulating words. Yes, the website clearly _says_ what happened, but it doesn't explain [clearly] _why_. A doctor can tell you "the patient has died" and his statement "clearly says what happened". But it doesn't answer as of why he is dead.

Second, some other guys replied already that this petition expired prematurely and this is the purpose behind all the fuzz. As of me going bit conspiratorish way, keep in mind that we are talking about DHS here. Those are the people in government that are beyond and sort of control, regardless if it comes from "we the people", President of the USA, or Congress itself. I could imagine all it takes one phonecall from DHS for WhiteHouse petitions website to have a "down for maintenance" issue. They do not answer to anyone or anything. Just a reminder, as you know they ran Fast and Furious where at least one Board Patrol Agent died as a direct results of their actions. At the end, Eric Holder was indeed held in contempt of Congress, but who cares? He won't face any responsibility just like DOD said they are not interested in pursuing this matter. This should be a perfect example to put in a dictionary under the term "mob". Imagine situation where you witnessed someone killing your family member you call the cops and the oppressor turned out to be police commissioner's brother, and their answer is "we are not interested in pursuing this matter".

So if DHS is capable of pulling stuns like the one with Holder, you really think they will let "we the people" to petition against them without ability to stop the show anytime they want to?

edit: good read: http://townhall.com/columnists/edfeulner/2012/08/10/the_furo...

edit: actually Brian's birthday would be today... http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2012/08/11/remembe...


> one Board Patrol Agent died as a direct results of their actions.

What happened to "guns don't kill people, people kill people"? Are you saying that ATF shot the Border Patrol Agent?

Oh. I see. The mistake was that some Mexicans got guns. Obviously, without the ATF there is no way that Mexicans would be able to get guns. Right.

But under that logic, failing to enact gun control makes the US government responsible for almost everyone killed with a gun in the US, since the relative lack of gun control both directly and indirectly results in more guns in hands, and therefore more guns in use, and therefore more people being shot. (For the record: I am against gun control, I just think your logic sucks)

You ARE allowed to petition, but that isn't the same thing as whatever your complaint is about whitehouse.gov ... petitions vastly pre-existed whitehouse.gov.

You seem to have forgotten the good old days when Reagan set up the Enterprise (an unaccountable shadow government with its own funding sources) and sold arms to our enemies, violating a US arms embargo, in order to fund a dirty war in Central America (another action violating US law).

What great democracy that was!


I read your response, but I will only partially bite on your bait.

I don't know, and frankly don't care, why you assume I have forgotten about Reagan stunt. I hope you haven't forgotten that Constitution says that all men should be capable of being armed equally as the Government itself. Clearly we are not there anymore, but I hope we will never be in a situation where the only legal way of standing against burglar's .357 is with a plastic knife...


Without getting into the fact that you're heavily paraphrasing the second amendment, surely you're not suggesting that "all men" should be able to possess, like the government, surface-to-air missiles, 1000-ton bombs, or nuclear weapons. And if we are at least in agreement on this point, then on what basis is the line drawn between weapons like these and hunting rifles?


> Should you have signed it 2 days ago instead of upvoting this article hoping that somebody else would? Yes.

Slacktivism at its finest


I'm sure a guy who worked on barackobama.com is going to be impartial on this issue.


Let's not resort to ad hominem now.


Ad hominem doesn't mean that it's not a factor. Check the guy's page, he's works in the mainstream Democratic machine.


Considering how much heed the administration pays to this web site (read: none), somehow I don't think this was willful, nor do I think the enclosing "maintenance" in scare quotes was necessary.

The implication is that the government was so terrified of having to answer for the TSA's shenanigans that they deleted the petition. I suspect the real answer is much more mundane.


Thank you for being a voice of reason and rationality. This community among many others has a tendency to attribute things like this to malice or, more often, conspiracy. I can't tell you how many times I see people thinking along these lines and I just think to myself "Has anyone ever heard of Occam's Razor?".

An online petition is meaningless to the government if they want to ignore it. We also forget that a petition is more like a very strong request or a demand but no one is obligated fulfill what the petition requests. So even if this petition got a million signatures all it means is that we presumably let whoever is in charge of watching these petitions know that x number of people feel this way.

One last major point I want to make is that the government is far more inept than people give it credit for. It's funny how people see the government as either completely incompetent or as some all powerful entity that can exert power over anything and do anything. For example, we have people that believe the USPS is totally broken and the US government is too incompetent to fix it's own postal system. Then, by the same token we have others that believe 9/11 was a massive conspiracy that was masterfully executed. In both cases the problem comes down to the government being run by fallible humans who make mistakes.

Very very last thing to think about: to some, the TSA petition was incredibly important and it's being taken down has been, in their minds, morphed into some kind of conspiracy to keep the people down. Now I ask you what about the other petitions on the site? To some people the TSA petition isn't important but some other random petition is. There are lots of petitions that are just as important to people that do make their signature goal. The point is, people will do gold medal worthy mental gymnastics to explain what they either don't understand or to justify something to themselves.

Not everything is a conspiracy. Coincidence is real.


Different parts of the government have different capabilities. For example, the CIA may have more resources than the post office. And perhaps even more highly trained employees.

But many conspiracy theories are just silly...

JERRY: Just give me some idea of what you think it could be.

GEORGE: I don't know if you're ready for it.

JERRY: Please.

GEORGE: I believe that I am about to become the target of a systematic process of intimidation and manipulation, the likes of which you have never -

JERRY: Hold it, hold it! You're right, I'm not ready for this.


Considering how much heed the administration pays to this web site (read: none)

The Epic site doesn't explain this well, but the petition was actually on the White House website, where the White House promises to respond, and has responded, to any petition that gets 25,000 signatures. This one probably just expired before meeting the requirements: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require-transporta...


And the amount of heed the administration pays to those petitions is still none.

I've actually signed a previous TSA petition, and gotten a letter from the white house brushing it off (available here: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/abolish-tsa-and-us...). Same with the legalization of marijuana petition I signed, and the support same-sex marriage one I signed (later they changed their position on this one), and the... I forget now which other ones I signed, but they have all gotten eventual responses from the white house that are basically polite brush-offs.


My understanding is that a lot of the "responses" to those petitions end up being, "We considered it. The answer is no." There's no requirement that they do anything.

Given that, it seems unlikely there was some nefarious hidden agenda behind this TSA one being taken down.


With the upcoming campaign, I think they may want to close any potential finger pointing with "proof" by the other side that they are not doing what the people want. The fact that it's on the President's site makes it an easy target for the opposition.


Anything on the presidents site is an easy target. Remember, in politics the facts don't matter. Perception does. All either side has to do is take any position, policy, or whatever and frame it any way they want. The opposition in this case isn't losing any sleep over this "ammunition" being taken from them (if they even noticed to begin with).

Besides, the TSA was something dreamed up and put in place by the Republicans. It wouldn't be smart to go out and make a stink over a Democratic president ignoring a petition having anything to do with changing anyone about the TSA when Republicans would love to double down and try to convince people that the TSA is keeping the US terrorist-free. In fact, I'd argue that the Republicans would actually love for Obama to do something rational about the TSA so they can call him weak on security. It doesn't make sense for this to be a defense against Republicaj criticism.

It most likely really was just a blooper.


Since they have literally never answered a petition in any useful way (Read: action was taken, or real explanations given, rather than talking points repeated), i'm not sure why it even matters except so advocacy folks can say they are doing something.

All that is happening is that people are pretending to give an air of legitimacy to a process that has none.


I'm pretty sure I've heard this site described as an "online activism honeypot".


So this petition won't get boilerplate "We heard you, thanks for your feedback, don't you know we are so awesome for responding to you? Please vote for us and we'd consider reading your next petitions while continuing to do absolutely what we want!" response from some White House intern? This is a major setback for the cause of freedom. We all know how much impact other petitions made, if only this one could have the same resounding success!

Seriously, if this petition didn't get 25K signatures in an hour, White House has absolutely no reason to be so afraid as to try and hide it. There's no revolution brewing. And calling your representative and letting him know you'd base your next vote on this issue is more effective (provided that enough people actually do it) than any of the internet petitions anyway.


I find it astonishing that people actually consider it worse to have this petition website than not to have one, simply because the President will not toe the line of every petition which gets a few thousand votes.


It's not worse, but it's also not better, since these petitions achieve nothing of consequence.


This was posted at 11:30AM on the 9th; the deadline was the 9th (some references below)... maybe the deadline was just "exactly X days from posting" and expired in the middle of the day?

As in, this might be neither malice nor incompetence: this could very well just be an implementation detail of the expiration system and how it displays the deadline, causing some people to be confused.

> 10,477 signatures required by August 9th to require President Obama to respond.

http://www.dailypaul.com/245374/sign-petition-to-require-tsa...

> If 25,000 people sign the petition before August 9, 2012, the White House will respond.

http://reason.com/24-7/2012/08/07/tsa-we-the-people-petition...


If the deadline was "by August 9th", it's ambiguous whether that means "by 11:59 PM August 8th", or "by 11:59 PM August 9th".

If it's "11:59 PM August 8th", then it would probably be reasonable to hold it open until around noon on the 9th, to take into account places in the Pacific (Hawaii, UTC-10; American Samoa, UTC-11, etc)


I wonder what the actual website said. I checked the wayback machine but it doesn't have the page archived. If it says "by August 9th" that is very different than "before August 9th". One says it was removed early, the other says it was removed on schedule. Big difference.

EDIT: The petition site says, "SIGNATURES NEEDED BY AUGUST 17, 2012 TO REACH GOAL OF 25,000" for a current petition. So it is ambiguous. But I doubt any malfeasance. As the parent poster says, it is likely just a function of the website design.


The point I am making is that if a web site has a feature "post something for 30 days", it is fairly reasonable to implement that as "expires = now() + '30 days'::interval" in your database, and then to display a simplified timestamp like "'expires on ' || date_trunc('day', expires)" when telling people about the deadline.

Yes: it might be nice to say "expires at exactly 16:25:43.642109 UTC on Aug 9 2012", but for most use cases "expires on 8/9/2012" is considered fine. With this interpretation, even if the website said "August 9th", you can still argue that it was being fair and even correct, albeit confusing and bothersome in a way that will certainly have caused some people to think there was more time when there wasn't.


Which raises the question of why to cut it off in that way. Why would that kind of precision be necessary? Are we supposed to believe that the coder doesn't know how to do anything but Time.now+30.days?


Is this a serious question? Anyone who has been around "professional" software development for more than 30 minutes wouldn't be surprised by this at all.


Anybody who has been around professional (without quotes) software development wouldn't make as facile an analogy.


Its not difficult to believe that the requirement was vague and the coder did the simplest thing to meet it.


How is it simpler than Date.today+30.days?


Its not. Time.now + 30.days is exactly as simple.


What do you a req or spec for that feature would look like?


expire it 30 days from the time its created

as opposed to: expire it 30 days from the start of the day that its created

the former seems simpler to me and more likely


The Wayback Machine only displays sites after 6 months have passed.


The governments of the world only respond to two things, statistical polls and bullets. You cannot Like Button your way to social justice.


This kind of behavior is no longer surprising, from the least transparent White House in living memory.


I guess you weren't alive during the Reagan administration. (Iran-Contra? I don't recall.) Or the GWB administration...


Big difference though, Obama promised the most transparent administration in history. Admittedly, it's a low bar, but Fast and Furious documents, press restrictions, including a prohibition on live tweeting anything Biden says. Obfuscation of the Solyndra scandal.. it goes on and on. The Fast and Furious scandal is the big one though. Allowing gun walking in order to then use the resultant violence to make the case for anti-gun legislation, resulting in the death of Brian Terry as well as hundreds of Mexicans. In Watergate all you had was a burglary, with this, people were killed. And yet, those documents are covered by Executive Privilege even though the President denied knowing anything about it? His lack of press conferences, restrictions on press at campaign events, colluding with the media to squash stories while leaking others.

We can debate policy all day long, but there's really no way anyone can argue that Obama's administration is the most transparent in history. Even Obama himself is obscured. Every presidential candidate has released college transcripts -- except Obama. There are all sorts of questions about his past that remain unanswered, yet he claims to be transparent?

We knew George Bush's elementary school grades, the cars he owned and drugs he did -- yet with Obama there are so many questions that he refuses to address both in his personal history and current White House administration.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXWTdTnhebs


The original claim of the poster was that the Obama Administration is the least transparent administration in history, not that Obama claims to have the most transparent administration in history.


Actually, if you read my original post, I stated that it was the least transparent _in living memory._ You are welcome to take issue with what I said, but I'll thank you to stop trying to make my assertion far more absolutist than it is.


Oops! Sorry about that.


It is worse than under Bush Jr?


Objectively, perhaps slightly. It's not hard to find quotes describing this administration as the worst yet at responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. For example:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73606.html

Subjectively, it feels much worse - because the administration ran on a platform of transparency and openness, which they failed to deliver on:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOp...


Bush turned us in a bad direction, Obama stepped on the gas.

The Bush policies that were most detrimental to the long-term health of the US have been embraced and championed by Obama. Namely, the suspension of habeus corpus. Obama and Bush both abduct people they don't like and ship them to prisons in war zones and strip them of all their civil liberties.

Obama, in section 1012 of NDAA 2012, signed into law the right of the US military to detain US citizens indefinitely, without trial.

Of course there are lawsuits and challenges to NDAA 2012, and states have signed their own legislation into place that says, "no, really, the constitution and bill of rights mean something still".

But that stuff isn't stopping the US from abducting and imprisoning its own citizens.

I didn't say anything about the transparency, because I got worked up. Oh, well.


Section 1021, not 1012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Authorization_...


Thanks. I'm a notorious digit and letter swapper, and should have copy-pasted that. (It's been the source of some of my hardest to chase bugs when I'm programming in a dynamic language without strict compile time checks, they are hard mistakes for me to see).


It's funny you would say that. I got a distinct 'uh oh' feeling when Gitmo wasn't promptly closed. However New Zealand perspectives on these things tend to differ from US views. I assume you are American


By an objective tally of bullshit occurring under each administration's watch, I think we can safely say that, yes, it is.

At least W didn't try to pretend he was something he wasn't.


Under Bush it didn't seem so bad because our expectations were so low.


Are non-US citizens allowed to petition on the "We the People" site? The top signed petition here is by some right-wing Japanese history revisionist to remove monuments to Korean sex slaves abused during WWII [1]. Maybe it's a good thing that the administration ignores this site.

[1]https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-monument-an...


You are aware that there are millions of Japanese and Korean Americans who would care about this issue, right?


No, there are only a million Japanese in America. Also, I highly doubt any Koreans would support removing a monument dedicated to Korean victims of WWII.

At 1.3Million, sure, it's possible, but I don't personally think there are enough right-wing revisionist history Japanese-Americans to have generated this much response.

Anyway, the facts support my assumption directly from the petititon. The vast majority of Japanese names on the petition do not list their location, while a handful directly report they are from Japan: Taizo H - Tokyo, Kuniko N - Fukuoka.


The people in Japan could be US expats.

More importantly, the site is utterly impotent. It's not like voting or campaign donations by foreign nationals, so I'm not sure why it matters. If some Japanese wingnuts want to embarrass themselves on the site, more power to them.


Americans don't automatically lose their citizenship if they visit or move to Tokyo.


Without commenting on any of the other aspects of this,

The petition couldn't get 25 THOUSAND signatures, although I think it was up for at least a month (I tried to sign at one point before the Wired article but it was also down)

In a country of 300 MILLION.

Do you really think this was some sort of conspiracy to silence the masses? Do you really think this was going anywhere?

Go to Change.org & or the White House site again and start a new one if you want. And actually SIGN it this time.


Why the heck in this day and age does it take longer than 24 hours to get 25k signatures? There are a million americans on Facebook and Youtube every day?

That said, please stop pretending the petitions mean a darn thing. We don't even have popular vote in this country. Representatives love to insulate themselves behind that.


Everyone seems to be ignoring the real reason why the petition didn't get 25,000 signatures, which is that it's hard to find 25,000 Americans who really give a rat's ass one way or the other.

Spend some time in the TSA queue at any US airport, and see if you hear anything but "Baaaaa" from your neighbors in line. That's why the petition didn't reach the required threshold. Occam's Razor in action.


You contradicting yourself, I believe. You wonder why it took so much time to get 25k signatures, but sentence later you question effectiveness of even being a part of such a petition.

Petitions are extremely important, whether they are effective or not (I wish mass media would cite more results from petitions than words' games that White House plays in their official press conferences) they still are a vehicle for "we the people" to voice our opinion!


You can't get "signatures" with the 'like' button by using facebook or gmail connect.


Having to create a separate account, just to sign, probably discourages people. If the petitions needed 25k likes/pluses/etc I think more would reach the goal.


"the White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition."

Any ideas what was expected time for such a petition? Lets hope the stir this move caused will push a similar petition that hopeful won't be "down for maintenance" this time.


C'mon, it's the Obama administration. They'd manipulate the wind if they could get away with it. That White House is one of the most tightly-scripted organizations in history. If something doesn't fit the narrative, it gets buried. Notice there hasn't been much mention of Guantanamo Bay, though Obama promised to close it as soon as he took office? That's not by accident.


Well, organize.

Suppose you hit the deadline with almost but not quite enough signatures. Now, if all those signatures are disorganized -- just random individuals who happened to sign -- that's the end of the game. But if many of those signatures are a coordinated action by organized groups of people, then there is less problem re-introducing the petition, starting off with a lot of votes right of the bat, and then closing the gap before the next deadline.


I'm not sure why people expect these petitions would amount to any real policy change; in fact it would be a disaster if they were true referenda. 25,000 signatures represents 0.0008% of the population and all they did was click a button. If 10 million people signed one of these petitions, and there's no reason that couldn't happen if it was a truly widespread will of "the people," there would be more serious consideration of policy change.

Relevant to this discussion is the petition to take the petitions seriously[1]. The response is essentially that successful petitions bring the topic to discussion at the White House. This might not seem like much, and it isn't "much", but it's something. In the same way big donors do not (usually) buy policy directly, but rather the ear of the administration, these petitions give a small voice in the proces of governance. It's better than nothing and discrediting it because of unreasonable expectations is not helping anything.

[1] https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/actually-take-thes...


Anyone know how much time was supposed to be left? As Karunamon says, I don't think they would be particularly worried to have to respond. Their responses on other petitions have been pretty laughable. But it does seem odd that would cut the time short.


Seems like people may be jumping to conclusions here.

If this was an actual attempt at censorship it seems very heavy handed and obvious. This seems like it could be legitimate technical issues.


Then they should extend the deadline.


In the UK we've got http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ which is about as effective as people are saying the White House petitions site is. But we've also got the great http://www.38degrees.org.uk/ which has been effective on a few campaigns now.


Has anyone considered making a new petition to replace this one?




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