Thursday, May 11, 2006

Greetings, NSA Spookbots!

I'd started writing an outraged post about the latest NSA spookiness, but didn't quite get it polished off before RL work intervened, and I had to go dink around with some Linux Itanium makefiles for the umpteenth time. Which as it turns out was a good thing; I reread what I'd written, and I clearly needed to chill out a little. Simply swearing at the bastards won't help, even if they are reading this -- and I have to assume they are. I don't mean an actual person reading this, of course -- I'm merely a multicellular microbe in the TTLB ecosystem, after all -- but rather a bot scraping the net for keywords. I'd hate for the poor little bot to go away without any keyword hits whatsoever, so here are a few, just off the top of my head:
Osama, Plutonium, Fallujah, 9/11, Anthrax, Zarqawi, Saddam, Hijacking, Kerry, Subway, Sarin, Reactor, Syria, WMD, Pipeline, Jihad, Ahmadinejad, Yellowcake, Bush, Cheney, Oil, Afghanistan, Jesus, Rapture, Chechnya, Armageddon, Sheehan, Baghdad

I'll structure this as one of my usual bullet-point lists. I find bullet-point lists to be oddly calming. If you can just set everything down in a tidy structured list, the world can't have gone completely off its nut. It's like aromatherapy for engineers, I guess. The Jameson is helping a little as well, but not nearly enough. Some links I came across, along with various points as they occur to me.

  • We'll start out with the original USA Today story. I have to wonder how other big media types feel right now, having been scooped by USA Today? They also had a very good editorial accompanying the main article, which ended in the rather chilling line "The White House declined to provide an opposing view to this editorial.".
  • One of the best stories I've seen about the reaction to the news, from the San Jose Mercury News. Looks like Dubya's just scared the living daylights out of everyone in Silicon Valley, especially since so many tech workers come from overseas and routinely make international calls, things that the NSA's data mining operation would be sure to zero in on.
  • The liberal blogosphere is having a cow, of course. Here are some reactions at DailyKos, Unclaimed Territory, Firedoglake (also here). Not much at Wonkette that I can see. But as soon as one of the key figures wears something interesting, I'm sure they'll be right on it.
  • A long piece at The Moderate Voice rounding up today's MSM hubbub.
  • A good Seattle Times backgrounder on exactly what "social-networking analysis" is all about.
  • One of the pieces mentioned in the last item is a great Eugene Robinson piece at the WaPo. He boils it down to a few very simple points, the biggest being that whether or not the program is technically legal, Bush flat out lied to us about it. Looked us in the eye, all sincere and everything, and lied to us.
  • I'm proud to say I'm a Qwest customer. I never thought I'd say that. Their broadband offerings are a little behind the times compared to what Verizon offers (Verizon serves the 'burbs here in PDX), and their record on fixing things quickly and correctly isn't the best, although it's vastly improved over what it was 6-7 years ago. But I can still call up the in-laws and talk smack about Our Glorious Leader, and he won't ever know about it. Thank you, Qwest!
  • As I've said before, it's inconceivable that this administration would give itself this kind of power, and accumulate this much information, and then not seek to abuse it for purely partisan ends. They insist all of their domestic spying (that we know about) is done strictly against "enemies" of the country, and I expect they genuinely believe that's what they're doing. I'm sure they feel they have the best of intentions. But then, conservative types are always lecturing us on how anyone who disagrees with the president is a freedom-hating evildoer. So we can assume the NSA and its Bushevik masters are using an extremely broad definition of "enemy".
  • If the program really is constitutional, which they keep telling us it is, why aren't they sharing this info with law enforcement? Surely that would be a fantastic idea, one that nobody could possibly oppose. I mean, assuming the NSA program is legal.
  • A piece from the 9th, just before the latest story broke, speculating that the Hayden nomination was Karl Rove's idea. The piece argues that Karl and friends think domestic surveillance is a great wedge issue to use against Democrats in November, and Hayden was nominated to get the issue back on the front burner again. Possibly they're rethinking that now. Or possibly not. I really have no idea how this is going to play in Peoria. I no longer pretend to have even the foggiest clue about how those people think. Maybe they'll absolutely love it, and Dubya's numbers will be back over 50 the next time they run a poll. They voted for the guy twice, so I'm not sure there's any limit to the amount of BS they're willing to believe.
  • Some people have even speculated that Bush & Co. deliberately leaked the story, for the reasons given in the last item. I don't know what to think about that, but I certainly wouldn't put it past them.
  • I also doubt the latest news will change the minds of any of the 31-percenters out there. They drank the Kool-AidTM a long time ago. Patiently telling them about the latest outrage won't help matters; they love the guy precisely because they assume he is doing this sort of thing, and they wish he'd do a lot more of it.
  • I'd like to go out on a limb and offer a prediction: By this time next week, they'll trot Cheney out to do his usual routine, questioning the loyalty and patriotism of anyone who isn't thrilled about being spied on. I'm betting he'll surface on one of the weekend talking head shows, or if not that, a staged photo op in front of cheering soldiers.
  • I have to say this is a bad time to be a pessimist, which I am, because every time I think I'm finally pessimistic enough, something else bad happens. But here's my pessimistic view of how this is going to play out. Of course nothing will change as a result of the latest disclosure. Congress won't provide any meaningful oversight. Hayden will be confirmed, in a grotesque rerun of the Alito charade. (Surely he has a photogenic wife who's willing to burst into tears at key moments in the hearings.) We're seeing a few quotes from Congressfolk indicating they're feeling a tad more riled than usual, but nothing will come of it. In the end, they'll just end up legalizing whatever Bush is up to, anyway. The D's will run away from the issue at top speed, like they did with the last wiretapping scandal, and Feingold's censure motion, and all the other issues that have come down the pipe in the last 5 years.
  • Updated: Well, we have our answer, at least our initial answer, on the public reaction to the latest NSA news. They absolutely love it. Or at least that's what they say when asked about it over the phone. I was afraid this was going to happen. People just don't care about their basic civil liberties anymore. The bastards. The Bill of Rights would never pass in this country if we put it up for a vote.

You know, I'm not actually feeling any better. But at least the solution is obvious, as hard as it may be to achieve. ITMFA!


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