In his LA Times column this morning, Forget Privacy, We Need to Spy More, Max Boot rose to periscope depth and, in the words of Winky from Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, "sighted enemy, smeared same." The enemy in this case being the U.S.S. Constitution.
When it comes to the war on terror, the biggest advantage we have comes from our electronic wizardry.
Sadly, the past six years have given Osama bin Laden sufficient time to perfect his game, and reports indicate that he has achieved parity with our pinball wizardry.
The National Security Agency has its share of problems, but it has long been the best in the business at intercepting and deciphering enemy communications. Until now.
Because frankly, the enemy's conversations are pretty boring (mostly they chat about Muslim theology and couscous recipes), so the NSA has started intercepting and deciphering friendly communications, because we're more likely to call phone sex lines or gab about Eve Longoria's red carpet nip-slip at the Independent Spirit Awards.
If civil liberties agitators, grandstanding politicians and self-righteous newspaper editorialists have their way, we will have to give up our most potent line of defense because of largely hypothetical concerns about privacy violations.
Everyone who talks about the NSA's domestic spying program is a liar, and everything they tell you is a lie, including that it's even happening. If I repeat this often enough, I'm pretty sure I can get an android's head to explode.
By the way, that one sentence wiped out the nation's Strategic Modifier Reserve.
Assorted critics, taking a break from castigating the Bush administration for doing too little to protect the homeland, are now castigating it for doing too much.
A lot of you idiots don't seem to understand this very important point, so let's try to illustrate it with an analogy: An elderly woman is walking home from the bank after cashing her Social Security check. A blond 15-year old male whizzes past on a Razor and snatches her purse. She reports the theft to a cop, who immediately walks over to a bus bench and starts beating a 65-year old black woman with his nightstick. The grandstanding victim complains that this isn't helping to get her purse back. The moral of the story is: There's just no pleasing you people.
How dare the NSA receive without benefit of a court order telephone logs from AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon? Even though the records were anonymous and did not include the contents of any calls (Verizon and BellSouth have now denied offering any information at all)
Although they did admit to eating all the Frusen Gladje.
…hyperventilating worrywarts fret that fascism has descended.
If you love your civil liberties, let them go. If they come back, then you can exercise your free speech and peaceably assemble and be secure in your papers and effects. If not, then they were never your rights to begin with. Anyway, tell your skin condition to breathe into a paper bag and chill out.
Qwest is supposed to be the hero of this drama for having, in USA Today’s words, “the integrity to resist government pressure.” Maybe Qwest should celebrate by launching an advertising campaign touting itself as the preferred telecom provider of Al Qaeda.
Yeah, Qwest. If you love Al Qaeda so much, why don't you MARRY it?
All this concern with privacy would be touching if it weren’t so selective. With a few keystrokes, Google will display anything posted by or about you.
In that case, Hi MAX BOOT. Welcome to World O' Crap. Set a spell. Buy a mug.
A few more keystrokes can in all probability uncover the date of your birth, your address and telephone number and every place you have lived, along with satellite photos of the houses and how much you paid for them, any court actions you have been involved in and much, much more.
It is only a little more work to obtain your full credit history and Social Security number. Or details of your shopping, traveling and Web-browsing habits.
Well, it's a little more work for you. Me, I just call up General Hayden.
Such information is routinely gathered and sold by myriad marketing outfits. So it’s OK to violate your privacy to sell you something � but not to protect you from being blown up.
Well, it's OK according to the Republican Congress, which refuses to give consumers control of their credit reports and other personal financial information, lest it inconvenience the big banks and credit card companies.
How far do the civil-liberties absolutists want to take their logic?
This far: I want AT&T, BellSouth, and Verizon to launch an advertising campaign touting themselves as the preferred telecom provider of Heinrich Himmler.
Will troops in Afghanistan and Iraq soon have to read Miranda warnings to captured suspects and apply for a court’s permission before searching a terrorist safe house?
I'm guessing no, since we're talking about the NSA spying on Americans here in the U.S., where there aren't a lot of troops going house to house searching for insurgents.
But this does bring up something I've often puzzled over: Why do Max's rhetorical questions always sound like they should be punctuated with an organ sting? Is it their haughty, yet spittle-flecked, over-the-top quality that gives them that mid-50s soap opera flavor? ("Will Marcia confront John about Sylvia? Will Dr. Morgan reach Helen in time to save her baby? Tune in tomorrow...")
Or do such niceties stop at our borders, thereby giving Al Qaeda and its ilk the freedom to operate unhindered only in the U.S.?
Yeah! If the government doesn't get to spy on millions law-abiding U.S. citizens, then they don't get to surveill a few dozen suspected terrorists. Those are the rules.
Much of this silliness can be traced to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which for the first time made judges the overseers of our spymasters.
It was much better when whip-wielding plantation managers were the overseers of the intelligence community, because not only was productivity unimpeded by all this eyewash about the Bill of Rights, but the CIA officers sang such lovely spirituals as they worked that we didn't need Muzak in the elevators.
This was an understandable reaction to such abuses as the FBI’s wiretapping of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. But FISA is a luxury we can no longer afford.
Martin Luther King is also a luxury we can no longer afford. Sorry, but if we let one subject of extensive and prolonged government surveillance have a holiday, then the next thing you know the civil liberties agitators won't be satisfied until major appliance dealers are having sales on Osama bin Laden's birthday.
Were it not for FISA’s high standard of “probable cause,” the FBI could have examined Zacarias Moussaoui’s laptop in August 2001 and perhaps saved 3,000 lives.
Actually, were it not for FBI management's disinterest in even seeking a warrant to search Moussaoui's laptop, 3,000 lives might possibly have been saved. In fact, there were lots of actions the government could have taken to prevent the attacks on 9/11, but you know how hard it is to get anything done when the boss is on vacation.
Still, that leaves these FISA judges setting themselves above the Constitution by demanding some impossible, idealized, airy-fairy standard for issuing a warrant. "Probable cause." PAH! How far did they have to reach to pull that one out of their asses?
This archaic law should be euthanized.
Except Bill Frist keeps shoving the feeding tube back in.
Replace it with legislation that gives the president permission to order any surveillance deemed necessary
…and to have people wearing insulting t-shirts shot on sight, or herded like cattle into giant rocketships and exiled to the moon!
…subject to only one proviso: If it is later determined that an intelligence-gathering operation was not ordered for legitimate national security objectives � if, for instance, it was designed to gather dirt on political opponents � then the culprits would be punished with lengthy prison sentences.
Fortunately, since no intelligence-gathering operation will ever be investigated by this Congress, we don't really have to worry too much about that prison part.
Given that our intelligence bureaucracy leaks like a sinking ship, it is a safe bet that any hanky-panky would become front-page news faster than you can say “Pulitzer Prize.”
Yep. All these leaks, all these Pulitzer Prizes, all these Administration officials serving lengthy prison sentences. Oh wait...
So far there has been no suggestion that the NSA has done anything with disreputable motives.
Um, Max? Stop by my house.
The administration has nothing to be ashamed of.
But shame itself.
The only scandal here is that some people favor unilateral disarmament in our struggle against the suicide bombers.
Oooh, nice one! On the Strawman scale of Ending Your Argument by Symbolically Lighting a Bag of Dog Poop on Fire, Ringing the Doorbell, and Running, this column rates:
Posted by scott on Wednesday, May 17th, 2006 at 5:58 pm.