Saturday, May 13, 2006

Once Again on the NSA Domestic Spying Scandal

I have a proposition which should make 63 percent of the American people happy. No, I take that back. It won't make them feel happy. It will make them sleep well; it will make them feel safe. I had to borrow a little from George Orwell's 1984, but I truly believe that this will finally, finally, make the 63 percent of the American people who agree with the NSA data mining feel safe and secure in the privacy of their own homes. It's called the "1984 Terrorism Prevention Act" and it works like this:

First we have to repeal the Fourth Amendment. The whole thing will fall flat on its face if we entertain the idea that Americans still have a right to privacy. Then we would pass a Constitutional Amendment requiring each and every American to place cameras and microphones in every room of his or her house or apartment. Once installed the mics and cameras would be operated by AT &T, Bell South, and Verizon. Using new and innovative technology, any American would be able to dial up and see what any other American is doing at any time of the day or night. This may sound extreme, but it worked very well in George Orwell's 1984, so I see no reason why we shouldn't give it a try here. Who knows? Perhaps, just perhaps, when when the American people realize that they can't even take a dump without being watched or recorded in the process they might just realize that George W. Bush has transformed this country from the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave" into the "Land of the Repressed and the Home of the Cowardly."

The latest flap over the Domestic Spying Scandal proves what we have been saying all along--that this increasingly despotic Administration is still living in a pre-911 world and still employing pre-911 tactics. Almost any mainstream source you read, watch, or listen to, will tell you that Al-Quaida is no longer using e0mails or telephone calls to plan their attacks. Rather, they have gone low tech and are using human couriers, a fact which has apparently eluded George W. Bush and his backward looking pack of cronies. You just have to give the Bush Regime credit. Not only has it found a way to dismantle everything the fourth Amendment stands for, it has also found a way to make us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. It truly believes that it can invade the privacy of the American people. It truly believes that in can repeat the same mistakes which led to the attack on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001.

This may come as a shock and a revelation to the Bush Administration and the NSA, but the primary problem with American intelligence prior to 911 was the fact that we had a glut of information but no way to coordinate and decipher it. And now, for some bizarre reason, the Bush and his NSA believe that they can accumulate another glut of information and not suffer the same consequences that it did on 911. Collecting information on phone calls between American citizens and known terrorists was one thing, but a data bass of millions of phone numbers?

That said, why should we believe a word that this President says about anything?

First he said that there was no domestic spying program. Then he said that there were only thirty-some cases of domestic spying. Then we learned that there were thousands of cases of domestic spying, but he told us that they only involved calls in which one of the participants was in a foreign country. And through it all he not only declared that he was trampling on the Constitution to protect us from terrorism, he also claimed that he did not have to go to the FISA court to acquire a federally mandated search warrant.

And now, after all the propaganda and outright prevarications, we have learned that the NSA (National Socialistic Administration) has acquired a data bass of tens of millions of phone numbers obtained from purely domestic calls. And I'm sure that at some point in the near future we will learn that this was not just a data bass of phone numbers, but that actual conversations were tapped and surveiled.

Let's get real here friends and neighbors. If the Administration doesn't know that electronic surveillance like the kind that it is using in the Domestic Spying Program is virtually useless, then it is the most inept Administration in the history of the modern day Presidency. And if it does know that electronic surveillance is useless then we have to ask ourselves why in the name of the Fourth Amendment would they want to collect millions of phone numbers unless there wasn't an ulterior motive.

Could it be that the Administration is trying to obtain personal information (read "dirt")on its political opponents? Considering the way these right wing predators campaign (with no regard for the truth and even less for their morally superior opponents), I think it's safe to assume that this is a very logical explanation. Despite false claims by the Administration that it has only been collecting phone numbers, the truth of the matter is that it is very easy to collect enough information to connect names with those numbers, essentially giving anyone with the position and the mind to do so, the ability to discern who we might have talked to in the past.

That of course, would represent a throw back to the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover, who collected files of data on civil rights leaders during the 1960s. Remember the late J. Edgar Hoover? He was the former head of the FBI, an anal retentive cross-dresser, who gathered information about Martin Luther King's extra martial affairs and then released the information to both, Mrs. King and the public at large, in the hope that he might be able to derail an influential leader if not the the entire civil rights movement.

Imagine for a moment that you have decided to run for political office. Now imagine that you are a recovering alcoholic, and that during the course of your recovery you made several phone calls to your sponsor or to a clergy man during a time of weakness and talked about your urge to drink. During the course of the conversation you may have talked about embarrassing situations or personal problems which would have nothing to do with your worth as a human being or as a candidate but which might be used as political weapons by a potential opponent.

Better yet. Suppose that you are a business leader and that you have been phoning or emailing important financial information via your phone calls and emails. Would you really feel secure in the knowledge that your phone numbers, or even trade secrets, are being stored by the federal government? How would you feel if a corrupt civil servant leaked that information to a rival business or to the public at large? How would you feel if that corrupt individual decided to blackmail you with the information that he or she had obtained?

Contrary to right wing mythology, the American people really do have something to worry about if they have not done anything wrong. Domestic spying such as the kind "W "adores, not only fails to catch real life terrorists, it also creates a climate of self censorship in which some people will remain silent, refusing to speak truth to power. The overall effect is chilling. Afraid that their names and/or phone numbers might show up in some poorly protected data bass, the American people may remain silent on the issues, essentially shutting down debate before it even has a chance to begin. Of course you have to ask yourself if this is an unfortunate side effect or the original intention, but there are other questions to ask as well.

One question being: Is this a pay back to the telecommunications companies for all the financial support that they have given the Republican party? The telec ommunications Bill of 1996 was nothing more than a payoff by the United States Congress to the telecommunications Companies which had been making substantial contributions to political campaigns for the past several years. In many ways, the data bass of phone numbers represents a symbiotic relationship between the Republican parasites and the corporate parasites who have been ruling this country. The Republicans benefit in this relationship because it gives them convenient access to a massive supply of phone numbers (an by extension, dates and names). The Corporations benefit because this information could readily be declassified and serve as yet another data bass through which they could locate and harass potential customers through electronic media. Just what we need. More spam-filled in boxes and more telemarketers harassing us during our evening meal. Granted, this is mere speculation, but it does explain why Verizon, Bell South, and the dreaded AT & T would be so willing to sell out their customers unless there were some kind of payback for them. This, after all, was not a mandatory action. Qwest did not cooperate with the NSA, so what was the deal here? How did Verizon et al benefit from all of this? Why did three corporations sell out while a third remained true to its customers?

This would not be the first time that an American corporation has sold out to the forces of fascism. According to Edwin Black, author of IBM and the Holocaust, when Adolf Hitler came to power, Thomas J. Watson, the President of IBM looked upon the Nazi warlord and his maniacal regime, not as a menace, but as a lucrative source of business, ultimately helping Adolf Hitler in his execution of the holocaust.

"As a part of that strategic alliance," wrote Black, " IBM and the Nazis jointly designed, and IBM exclusively produced, technologic solutions that enabled Hitler to accelerate and automate key aspects of the persecution of the Jews from the initial identification and social expulsion to the confiscation and ghettoization, to the deportation and ultimate extermination." *

Note the opportune words " from the initial identification." In a very real sense of the word, this is what Verizon, AT & T, and Bell South have done. They have helped an increasingly despotic regime in its obvious attempt to collect information of more than 200 million Americans. Contrary to claims that this is mere data mining and that the Administration is only collecting numbers, the truth of the matter is that once the government, the NSA, has your telephone number, the NSA can easily obtain a name and an address to go with that number. Think about it. If a corporation is corrupt enough to cooperate with such a proto-fascist program, the corporation would also go so far as to provide the names and addresses of innocent American citizens. What's next? Will the NSA demand that every American citizen have his or her telephone number tattooed on his or her forearm? Or will they just settle for the number 666 on our foreheads or in the palms of our right hands?

In the meantime, the Justice Department cannot receive the proper security clearance to thoroughly investigate the NSA spying program. in other words, the White House is actively blocking an investigation into the matter, effectively forcing the justice department to drop its investigation.

Not that we should worry. The man who supervised the domestic spying, General Michael Hayden, has been nominated for a promotion and may well be chosen as the next head of the CIA. Yup, I know that makes me feel a lot safer. Especially when I remember the fact that General Hayden was the head of the NSA when it learned that the match was on for 911, but didn't bother to translate the intelligence until the day after 911. Knowing that I'm really going to sleep well at night.


*For additional information about the connections between IBM and the Nazi regime please go to The Village Voice artcle, "Final Solutions: How IBM Helped Automate the Nazi Death Machine in Poland."


BEAST said...

Again, The Bush Administration has got it all wrong.

Part of the failures of 911 was the direct consequences of "too much quantity, too little quality".What happened was, CIA agents who were investigating the suicide bombers had their reports drowned out by the huge amount of data CIA had access to every day.

Not to mention the chain of commands involved.

The reality is, the intelligence service needs to streamline itself with its limited resources and manpower. Focus on what really is important, and leave the overall pictures to other law agencies.

Trying to go through every phone record in America isn't going to do squat for America's "war on terror". Its just going to encumbent the whole intellence service and create another maelstrom the next time another attack comes back.

Hell, you don't need a PHD to figure this one out.

Brandon said...

I guess that's what they were doing when they dismissed fluent speakers of arabic because they were gay. Real brain power there!

Brandon said...

Should read Arabic

Lily said...

Exactly, Beast!

And good point, Brandon about the need for people that can speak Arabic. Not at the expense of tolerating gay people, eh?

This whole thing is stupid, and I agree that there is probably some other motive for gathering all this.