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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Friday, May 12, 2006

They Think We're Morons

Rule #1 in the Bush administration: When you get caught, insult the America people's intelligence.

USA Today learned that the NSA, with the cooperation of most of the big phone companies, is collecting phone records of Americans who are not suspected of wrongdoing. (Can we sue our phone company for breach of privacy?) So what does George II do? What he always does -- treats us like morons. He assures us of something (we are not being listened in on) that we have no reason to believe (he once said there was no warrantless eavesdropping), and he condemns the revelation as a threat to national security. That latter card is getting a bit worn. If bin Laden didn't think the U.S. government was eavesdropping in every possible way, he'd have been caught by now. The president thinks bin Laden is a moron too.

P.S.: Here's a laugher. George II's Justice Dept. was supposed to "investigate" George II's NSA's warrantless wiretapping of people in the U.S. suspected of talking to presumed terrorists abroad. The "investigation" came to a screeching halt, however, because the NSA refused to give the "investigators" the required security clearances. Earlier, when Congress asked about the NSA program, Atty. Gen. Alberto "Quaint" Gonzales said that warrantless wiretapping of purely domestic phone calls may not be illegal. This just gets better all the time, doesn't it?


Lippard said...

Bush's general practice seems to be not to engage in lies of commission, but lies of omission (though I'm sure I've seen instances of the former from time to time).

In this case, the specific program appears to be the regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs), minus Qwest, supplying the NSA with all of their call-detail records. These are records generated by the phone switches that record the source, destination, time, and duration of each call. So technically, this particular program doesn't involve eavesdropping on the content of the call--but I'd certainly disagree with Bush's claim that it doesn't constitute "snooping."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against NSA and AT&T, by contrast, seems to have established evidence of actual traffic interception using Narus equipment.

I suspect the CDR-collection was established first, and the NSA continued to press for whatever else it could get.

I'm lucky enough to live in Qwest territory, since we now know that Qwest (which provides incumbent local exchange carrier services in 14 western states with the assets of the former U.S. West) refused to cooperate with the CDR-collection without appropriate warrants.

Anonymous said...

You say you are lucky enough to live in the Qwest territory. I understand your point too (because Qwest is good enough to require warrants).

The most important principle and violation of that principle is that Bush is violating our 4th amendment rights; this violation may lead to more in the future, or it may cause more Americans to believe this type of intelligence gathering is reasonable. When americans believe snooping is reasonable then it's difficult to argue against it; and they learn to ""not have a reasonable expectation of privacy"" in this area; then, again, we lose more of our privacy, permanently.