Friday, May 12, 2006

"Eeef you are eeennocent, you have nothing to feer, I assure you."

The Bush administration has claimed that it needs all these cool new powers in order to fight terrorists. And it assures us that us law-abiding docile citizens have nothing to fear from this. Well, a USA Today atricle tells us that the NSA has collected massive amounts of phone data from citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing:
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

Alas, this is not too surprising. But naturally, such trolling expeditions are pissing a lot of people off. How do we know that they're only going after genuine terrorists? Would we be stupid enough to believe that an administration would not be tempted to use this information against political opponents? Do you think the framers of our limited government constitution would trust an administration go on such wide-net fishing expeditions? Do you think this congress is going to provide sufficient oversight? Or that the Department of Justice will be able to investigate, when over a related issue the National Security Agency denies DOJ lawyers the necessary security clearances? (A secret agency controls the clearances necessary to investigate itself. And I guess the DOJ is OK with that. Fortunately, I'm not the only one who thinks this is weird.)
Could this be the overstep that finally wakes people up? I think a lot of people haven't cared about this evisceration of civil rights because they are sure in their hearts that nothing bad would ever happen to them at the hands of our government. Only those evil others, those of a different race, religion, and language. Not me, average Joe AT&T subscriber. (Atrios expresses a similar sentiment here.)
And none of this is to say that there isn't a real violent Islamist (as opposed to Islamic) movement. I believe it is real and that it is a violent threat. But that's no excuse to toss out the Constitution. And its not an excuse for the executive branch to ram through whatever it wants and ignore whatever it wants and call anyone who opposes its policies a traitor. ITMFA!!!

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