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Respectfully Disagreeing with Just About Everyone On the Right (Part 1)

It isn't too often I find myself in such complete disagreement with Mark Steyn. He's one of those guys that if I do disagree with him, I read him again because I must have missed something the first time. But on the NSA collecting data on MY phone calls, he's just wrong.

Likewise, Richard Falkenrath is also wrong and dangerously ignorant in his Op/Ed which ran in the Washington Post.

On Thursday, USA Today reported that three U.S. telecommunications companies have been voluntarily providing the National Security Agency with anonymized domestic telephone records -- that is, records stripped of individually identifiable data, such as names and place of residence. If true, the architect of this program deserves our thanks and probably a medal. That architect was presumably Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and President Bush's nominee to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The potential value of such anonymized domestic telephone records is best understood through a hypothetical example. ...

Let's dispel a myth right here and now. There is no such thing as anonymized data. Period. If you don't believe me, type your phone number into google and see what you get. (and be sure to follow the link where you can even see your house on satellite imagery) Bouncing your phone number off another database to learn who you are is trivial. You just did it with google.

That Richard Falkenrath used the term 6 times in his Op/Ed insults thinking people everywhere. If the data truly was "anonymized" what would be the point collecting it? You can't (without torturing logic outside the bounds of the Geneva convention) say the data is both "anonymized" and also invaluable in tracking terrorists.

"But there are safeguards in place... blah blah blah... The data can't be... blah blah blah"

Anyone on the right who thinks this is a good idea should be disabused of that notion by 3 simple words. "President Hillary Clinton." Ask yourself... Do you really trust the Clinton's with this data. -- That's the problem with bad policy. Even if you trust George Bush and his administration today and you really believe it is only being used to catch terrorists, bad policy has a way of sticking with government forever. And only getting worse with time.

Since Richard Falkenrath wants to use hypothetical examples, here's mine.

Some idiot staffer in the Hillary Whitehouse gets pissed at Wizbang. He has a pal pull Kevin's phone records and the IRS comes knocking on every Wizbanger's door 30 days later.

Don't think it can happen? If you don't, then you are both hopelessly naive and ignorant of history.

In creating policy, the decision must be made if the potential good outweighs the potential bad. To paraphrase Paul "Bear" Bryant (or was it Vince Lombardi?), Destroying basic civil liberties is more bad then stopping terrorists is good.*

No, the simple act of putting this information into another database is not inherently bad. But the potential for misuse is astounding. History has taught us that this much information in the hands of government will be misused. It is the natural order of things. I thought we on the right understood that. Perhaps we're so used to protecting this administration and our beliefs from idiotic charges from the left that when there is something we should disagree with we lose sight. I can't reconcile how anyone who claims to be a supporter of smaller goverment supports this program.

The goals of this program are laudable. As are most roads to Hell. But this program is not a solution to the terrorism problem, it is only the creation of many future problems and it should be eliminated.


* In part 2, I'll discuss more of the upside and downside potentials of this program and my take will be so unpopular I'll probably get death threats. (I might not be kidding) Don't miss it.

AND Note: I agree with the recording of *suspects* in this country (the first NSA phone scandal) but I don't agree with monitoring of everyday citizens. Call me stuck on the 4th amendment.


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Comments (64)

Dot's we don't need any dot... (Below threshold)
bill:

Dot's we don't need any dots -- let her blow, we will track down the perps later. OK with me, as long as the terrorists nuke NYC first.

Good post. I don't have any... (Below threshold)
hdw:

Good post. I don't have any trouble with tracking suspects to see who they contact, but everybody? How is this helpful?

[awaiting Part II]... (Below threshold)

[awaiting Part II]

You're absolutely right, an... (Below threshold)
Jay:

You're absolutely right, and I can't always say that.

This is one of those issues that has exposed unexpected fault lines among bloggers on the right and right leaning/sympathizing side of things. Sch**v* was another, in which most of the right went insane, while others watched in amazement at what they thought were people who thought similarly. To some degree, immigration is, or is becoming, another.

This is one of those iss... (Below threshold)
Lee:

This is one of those issues that has exposed unexpected fault lines among bloggers on the right and right leaning/sympathizing side of things.

One of America's strengths is its diversity of ideas. We will always come up with a better plan if there is a free and open debate of the issues, and opposing viewpoints are heard and discussed instead of ridiculed and dismissed.

You are right on all counts... (Below threshold)
Matt:

You are right on all counts.

I am amazed at how many of the supposedly consertive commentators don't think this is a big deal. It is one of those events that helps show peoples true colors when it comes to an understanding of freedom and liberty.

One of the ways I can tell it is a bad program is that Bill O'Reilly thinks it's a great thing.

I find it hard to either pr... (Below threshold)
kbiel:

I find it hard to either praise or criticize this program without more information. For example, we are told that the data was anonymized by stripping individually identifying data, but we don't know how far that anonymizing process goes. It would be possible for the telephone companies to replace the actual phone numbers with random and unique numbers. Then they could give a key to the government with a few of the real phone numbers for which the NSA wants to "connect the dots". If the NSA finds an important pattern, it could then request the real number for the suspicious data points. That may or may not take a warrent, but in any case identifying information would not be easily available to the government.

I'm not defending the program, but I wish that defenders and detractors would take a collective breath and wait for more information.

LOL - I tried that phone # ... (Below threshold)

LOL - I tried that phone # thing - google seems to think I live in a copse of trees at the end of my street...

Um, the point I'd like to m... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Um, the point I'd like to make is that this information is already out there. You think Hillary! couldn't get this info if she wanted it? Telemarketers sure have AT LEAST this much info on you. So I'd rather the government use a program like this to find the people who want to kill us, but that's just me.

The other point I'd like to make, is where does privacy end? Is your call not private because someone knows you made it? In other words does the government violate my privacy by listening to my phone calls, or just by learning that I made them? And if it's an invasion of privacy for the government to track who you called, why is it OK for marketing firms to know who you called?

Lastly, this isn't an invasion of privacy because you can work around it. Go buy a TrackFone and some air time with cash and call whom you like whenever you like and no one will ever know. If you think the phone companies are giving away too much info, speak with your wallet.

Bah... Eveyone gets their p... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Bah... Eveyone gets their panties knotted over phone records when they give Fedco so much more personalized information and don't bat an eyelash.

Banks, the IRS, ANY Federal institution will REQUIRE more than what the NSA is getting and people give it willingly. Get the hell outta my face when I call you on the hypocracy being expressed.

from commenter 'cathyf' fro... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

from commenter 'cathyf' from JustOneMinue blog:

"You realize that the SEC requires the brokerage companies to do data mining on their customers' accounts looking for signs of violations of securities laws, right? Or that the IRS conducts massive data mining on taxpayers' financial data so that they can use the data to catch tax cheats. Including the "proctological audits" where each year a couple of thousand unlucky taxpayers are selected at random and must spent hundreds of hours producing data to the IRS, without any form of compensation. Not because the IRS suspects them, but for statistical purposes -- if anything, they want a random sample so it wouldn't be anyone that they suspect."


..and yet people (not Paul) are complaining about phone numbers and trying to pin it on Bush. That's the worst part; the implication and deliberatly misleading notion that this started with Bush and it should be held against him but not the Dems.

Aaah. JustOneMinute blog.</... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Aaah. JustOneMinute blog.

I'm one of those who thinks... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

I'm one of those who thinks 'no big deal". Not because it isn't disturbing, just because it's been around for a long time and the only thing that has changed is people are finally discovering that things they assummed are private are not nearly as private as they believe.

I liken it to complaing about a crumb a bread being spilled when there is an entire warehouse of bread laying around.

Could a President Hillary abuse this power? Absolutely. So could anyone in that authority. To date there hasn't been a single law violated. All the proper steps have been taken. True, some feel additional steps should be there and there may be a point to the discussion but IMHO at lot of the "invasion of privacy" chest thumping is a lot of irrational over-reaction to something that has been around far longer than they care to believe.

Paul, your example of throwing a phone number into an online databse really supports the opposite point. All this data has existed and does exist in many forms. For instance, all those patting Qwest on the back for refusing to turn over records might be shocked to learn QWest is more than happy to sell those same records--legally--to anyone with the right price. They didn't hold out over some pseudo-patriotic stance over privacy rights--they are just holding out for a bigger check.

The real question ought to ... (Below threshold)
LJD:

The real question ought to be why our lawmakers allow the phone company to release such information to Yaahoo or Google, without explicit written permission from the person on the phone bill.

You have a far greater chance of this information being misused by a jaded ex (girlfriend, business partner, etc.) than you do by the government. You have a far greater chance of getting your car keyed up, or a burning bag of doggie doo on your porch, than you do having the governemnt kick your front door in. Remember this IS AMerica, and although the media will attempt to try you on the 5 o'clock news, you still get your trial.

I understand but disagree w... (Below threshold)
Matt:

I understand but disagree with the veiwpoints that since the data already exists, it is no big deal if the Govt tracks you, who you talk to, how often etc.

I even understand that we provide a lot of "private" information to the Govt through threats and coercion, whether we like it or not. I don't like it.

Even though telemarketeers have our numbers, etc all they are trying to do is sell us something. We can hang up on them, or opt out of them calling us at all. We have choices we can make, and means to enact those choices when it comes to telemarketeers.

The govt is collecting massive amounts of data so that they can track INDIVIDUALS making phone calls to other INDIVIDUALS and exploit that data. The intel apparatus is doing the deciding as to what is suspicious, not law enforcement, not the courts etc. It will be abused, just like RICO laws are abused by all echelons of Govt.

Finally, there could of been some laws violated. NSA's focus has always been collecting electronic intelligence agains foreign entities. I don't think they've generally been authorized to collect intelligence against US citizens in the US. That is the reason that the phone calls being monitored against possible Al Quaeda targets were being monitored at the foreign end, not at the US end.

Apparently, you have a much... (Below threshold)
Master Shake:

Apparently, you have a much more expansive interpretation of the 4th amendment's "unreasonable search" clause than many of us do. This also assumes that the NSA is so lax that it has no controls on who can access or search the database.

I imagine that a federal employee could do much more mischief with IRS information or a fraudulently obtained credit report, than by looking at who you call.

Um, the point I'd like t... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Um, the point I'd like to make is that this information is already out there. You think Hillary! couldn't get this info if she wanted it? Telemarketers sure have AT LEAST this much info on you. So I'd rather the government use a program like this to find the people who want to kill us, but that's just me.

There's a huge difference here. Hillary has to ask for specific data on specific people in order to do this. There is also a trail. Hillary has the request/results, her minions have request/results, and the people holding the data have the request/results. The latter being an organization not directly beholding to Hillary.

So if Hillary started studying relationship on people who belong to the NRA, there's a papertrail to track that abuse.

But since everyone is already turned over in a database, Hillary just has to ask one of her minions to go get it. As long as she's smart enough not to leave it lying around in the open, the number of people that knows what she did is much smaller and they all work for her and likely have sympathetic philosophies.

I think the NSA program is ... (Below threshold)
jdavenport:

I think the NSA program is ok, in contex.

Having said that, I have been waiting for the right (of which I am a member) to at least say that, while the program might be ok, its ONLY OK IN CONTEXT.

Frankly, I hate it, and I can't wait to get rid of it, and I certainly don't think some reasoned pressure against it is a bad idea.

BTW, there has been work on mathematical ways of addressing Paul's issues. There are solutions. But I have my doubts that the political system can get them into place and maintain them (the math should account for that, but it doesn't).

To add, telemarketers or an... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

To add, telemarketers or anyone else, shouldn't have access to this data. My information outside of what the company needs to bill me, is my property and shouldn't be used without my permission. If they want to offer me a rebate for the data, I'll consider signing it. Otherwise, what needs to happen is better legislation stopping the unpermitted use of your personal data.

Unlisted phone numbers are ... (Below threshold)
Amphipolis:

Unlisted phone numbers are not in the public domain. It's not so easy to pin a name and address to them, maybe impossible.

I just googled my cell number - that's not available either (yet).

Could a President Hillar... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Could a President Hillary abuse this power? Absolutely. So could anyone in that authority.

Reason enough to find out exactly what is going on -- what information is being filtered, to find out if any abuses are taking place now, or have taken place in the 5 year history of this program --

-- all without disclosing secrets and revealing nformation to the enemy. We can do this kids - we have to.

To date there hasn't been a single law violated. All the proper steps have been taken.

I am so sick of hearing this same BS! You don't know that for a fact - you can't. A govenment who is abusing the data mining privelages isn't going to tell you they're abusing it. This requires investigation and a determination as to whether it's legal or not. We don't know what steps have been taken. Until we do how can you say all the proper steps have been taken? This is partisan crap that has no place in a public policy debate.

It's not that I don't care ... (Below threshold)

It's not that I don't care about the violation of our privacy as I feel that things are so very far gone that it's a bit like trying to get the yolks back into broken eggs. So my reaction isn't "so what" it's more like, "Duh!"

Kind of like after 9-11 when so many people seemed stunned by the idea that other people in the world hate us. Duh! I knew that. I felt a lot of things after 9-11 but surprise wasn't one of them.

More than anything I see this as opportunism on the part of the critics because most of them haven't been concerned about invasions of our privacy before when it's been tracking credit cards or retail purchases or needing to get social security numbers for infants so they can be tracked from birth rather than from when they start working and paying taxes. We can be put on "no call" lists but without voluntarily submitting our personal information to that list, we are agreeing to the sale of our phone numbers? It's been years now and lists of those purchasing high intensity grow lights have been released to law enforcement without any need to show probable cause that the lights are for growing pot instead of orchids.

No. A long time ago now I became reconciled to the fact that our greatest protection is getting lost in the data. The limit, even with computers, is that there is too much data to process. I've had a TS clearance in the past and have been investigated and what struck me most strongly was the investment in man-hours required... and that is when they had reason to focus on me as an individual. It may suck, but my greatest safety is in the fact that not only does no one care, they've got better things to do.

I think I would get up in arms (perhaps literally) if someone decided to do away with cash money. The fact that I can buy a cheeseburger at McDonalds without leaving a personal record of the transaction is a vital freedom that, unlike a whole lot of other things, still exists.

Lee needs to go to this lin... (Below threshold)

Lee needs to go to this link...

http://www.scrappleface.com/?p=2257

Paul,My <a href="h... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves:

Paul,

My response is over on the Bombsquad.

Out Here
Rodney Graves
[email protected]

They collect them all to av... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

They collect them all to avoid accusations of discrimination and profiling.

;-)

Synova needs to spend more ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Synova needs to spend more time reading (and less time spamming this board with Scrapplecrap) :)

-- all without disclosing secrets and revealing information to the enemy.

Gee, that shouldn't be too hard.


do we have to assume that h... (Below threshold)
tim:

do we have to assume that hillary is elected president, for your hypothetical to be carried out to its (i)llogical conclusion? by the way, i googled my number and...nothing! go figure. i'll try it again when hillary is running the WH! in any event, hillary in the WH is the end of the world as we know it. it's not what the framers had in mind, i'm sure, and the horrifying scenarios would be endless; quickly evolving into the eastcoast playboy mansion

Call me stuck on t... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Call me stuck on the 4th amendment.

The NSA phone number gathering is a form of observation, not a search.

Not only doesn't the 4th amendment protect against observations, it requires them in most cases. The police can stake out your home and watch your coming and going and even follow you anywhere you go in public to observer who you meet with and what you do. They can even photograph or video tape you as long as there's no audio, and they can do all this without a search warrant. It fact, such observations are required by the 4th amendment in most cases in order to establish probable cause, and thus, obtain a search warrant.

There may be other laws that restrict the dissemination of such phone number data, but they go above and beyond 4th amendment protections.

As other's have pointed out, the government gathers financial information that can be far more tempting a target for abuse, yet we all yawn when someone tries to make the case that that constitutes an unlawful search. Bottom line, civil liberties were given up by the people long ago, so it's a bit late to be howling about another relatively trivial intrusion.

In part II I'll demonstrate how the 4th amendment has gone to the dogs.

Paul,Some idiot... (Below threshold)

Paul,

Some idiot staffer in the Hillary Whitehouse gets pissed at Wizbang. He has a pal pull Kevin's phone records and the IRS comes knocking on every Wizbanger's door 30 days later.

Don't think it can happen? If you don't, then you are both hopelessly naive and ignorant of history.

I know it can happen. The IRS was politicized during the Clinton administration and used to harass conservative watchdog groups. Having said that, if you think Hillary needs a telco database in order to retaliate, you are sadly mistaken. They will get the records they need under the aegis of "national security" and do it regardless. They already have all the tools they need.

Bottom line, civil liber... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Bottom line, civil liberties were given up by the people long ago, so it's a bit late to be howling about another relatively trivial intrusion.

Intrusions by the government we elected! Intrusions that spy on law abiding American citizens!

It is never too late to fix this!

What shouldn't be to hard, ... (Below threshold)

What shouldn't be to hard, Lee? My reading your post more carefully or full disclosure about terrorism countermeasures without actually, um, disclosing anything?

It's never too late to stop this, Lee?

Shall we please *start* with the requirement that I get social security numbers for my children too young to work?

Perhaps the best move, privacy wise, is to eliminate income tax for sales tax which can be gathered entirely anonymously. The government would then have no excuse to keep huge files of personal and financial information on each and every American.

I don't mind the government... (Below threshold)
Gringo:

I don't mind the government keeping track of how many kids I have, how much money I make in a year, how much money I have in the bank, how much I have invested the stock market, what kind of car I drive, what resources I am putting into my business this year and how many pets I have, but I have to draw the line on anonymous data collected on my phone use.

What shouldn't be to har... (Below threshold)
Lee:

What shouldn't be to hard, Lee? My reading your post more carefully or full disclosure about terrorism countermeasures without actually, um, disclosing anything?

Full disclosure of the extent to which our government is spying on law-abiding US citizens, without revealing the data obtained, isn't hard. Everyone knows that.

We want, for example, to know IF the government is filtering our emails for keywords. That can be done with publishing the contents of the emails filtered. As difficult as you'll like to make this appear, it is really quite simple, and can be done without revelaing any secrets.

Call me stuck on t... (Below threshold)
Jody:
Call me stuck on the 4th amendment.

The Supreme Court has a different view of the 4th amendment. Specifically, Smith v Maryland 1979 found that the use of pen registries sans warrant, court order, or anything else do not run afoul of 4th amendment rights.

There is no Constitutional problem with the described NSA program. The only possible problem is a legal one as the program may or may not have run afoul of statuory limits.

Anybody who thinks the NSA,... (Below threshold)
Charles Bannerman:

Anybody who thinks the NSA, FBI etc. don't already have his phone number, lisited or unlisted, is deluding himself. The NSA program that is currently causing such a furor is not new. The data has been collected for years and will continue to be collected after the dust settles from the current dustup.This same data is being collected by Russia, Israel, Great Briton ad ifinitum.

What might be new, and I seriously doubt it is, is the way the data is being used/ processed. There may be a good reason to object to your calling patterns being analyzed by a Government agency but the exact same thing is being done by telecommunications carriers and even worse, that data is being sold to the telemarketers who call at dinner time.

Right to privacy, schmight to privacy. It does not exist anymore. Good, bad or indifferent it does no good to get your bowels in an uproar over something that does not exist.

If you think this is bad, you would have a stroke if you knew what is being picked up by infrared spectrophotography. It will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Don't kid yourself, BIG BROTHER is here and he is watching.
Chuck

It is never too la... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
It is never too late to fix this!

I'm game if we start restoring lost rights in the order in which they were lost. I assume then we can count on your support in repealing all the laws that restrict the people's right to keep and bear arms. No, well then there's nothing to howl about, it's just your turn to lose something important to you.

Just get a VOIP phone. If ... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

Just get a VOIP phone. If you have broadband it is a much cheaper option and it will be years before those records are released in a way that can be tied to a real address.

I googled my phone number and it comes up over a thousand miles from where I live.

Oh come on, Paul, if you ha... (Below threshold)

Oh come on, Paul, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. The government always gets its man, and that doesn't change even if it's the wrong man. I defy you to show me a single example of Americans being hurt by their own government. Our government has NEVER abused the people. Hell, it even has gotten in trouble for playing too well with the people, like the times back in the 50s when it gave free baths to black people in the streets, taught southern women how to looooove in the 1860s while it instructed southern men in a fatherly way how to fight a war, gave free heating for a day to religious people in the 1990s, lowered the child support payments of rural men soon after. My God, Paul, your government's track record is not only flawless, but exemplary. How could you object to this? Don't you trust your government with your life, liberty and property?

Paul: We have taken your e... (Below threshold)
the NSA:

Paul: We have taken your e-mail address, phone number, shopping transaction, and DNA samples culled from your discarded earhair and cross-referenced them with HOBARSAT.

You have been located. Please remain where you are and do not be alarmed when the men with dark suits and sunglasses come to visit you shortly.

And please change your shirt. Your sense of fashion is an embarrassment to all Americans.


-----------------------
Protecting your freedom
-----------------------

Anyone that qoutes "The Bea... (Below threshold)
UncleZeb:

Anyone that qoutes "The Bear" is ok in my book.

I think Bear is the one that coined or at least made famous "luck is where opportunity meets preparation".

By the way, I tried the goo... (Below threshold)
UncleZeb:

By the way, I tried the google thing and it won't work for me. I have no house phone only cell numbers so if I keep moving around Sir Hillary wont be able to find me. LOL.

Sorry, I just can't make my... (Below threshold)

Sorry, I just can't make myself worry about this. This particular sort of information is readily available already to anyone who wants it, and has been available for many years. Signals intelligence and massive cross-referencing of data is what the NSA exists to do, and in conjunction with their allied foreign counterparts they've been doing their job quietly and professionally for decades. Pretending that this is some horrible new threat that will shred our civil liberties is disingenous. Invoking the dreaded Hillary (or Kerry, or Gore, or even Dean) doesn't change anything. If someone abuses it then we nail them into the ground. That's how we handle it when sworn law enforcement and intelligence officials violate their oaths.

No, well then there's no... (Below threshold)
Lee:

No, well then there's nothing to howl about, it's just your turn to lose something important to you.

LOL. Really? - the whole subject is dsimissed because you think the right to bear arms is a more important issue?

Thanks for stopping by and gracing us with your rock-solid logic Mac Lorry. You've underscored prefectly exactly the type of arrogance that exists in Washington.

"Think privacy matters? Well, I don't - and unless you agree with me that the right to bear arms is more important - you lose".

LOL! Who appointed you President?

LOL. Really? - the... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
LOL. Really? - the whole subject is dismissed because you think the right to bear arms is a more important issue?

I'm not prioritizing importance as you suggest. The point I'm making is that all the constitutional rights have to be protected or none of them can be protected. Liberals have worked diligently to chip away at 2nd amendment rights as well as property rights, so now it's a bit disingenuous to howl about privacy rights. If you want to restore rights then you have my support, but only if you start with the ones that were lost first; which is only fair.

Each and every woman acc... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Each and every woman accuser of Bill Clinton was audited by the IRS, including Paula Jones.

Billary didn't need a phone database.

The IRS has more about you than anyone. Hillary has used it already, I do not doubt she would do it again.

The phone company alread holds these records, so they are susceptible to any kind of nefarious activity.

Why wait for Hillary to tak... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Why wait for Hillary to take office to create an example. The current regime can play just as rough:

Before giving your company a contract, HUD Secretary Jackson has your phone records checked to make sure you didn't make calls to anybody who has spoken ill of the Prez.

Paul, re abuses of power: I... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Paul, re abuses of power: I have a close relative who owned a small business in New Orleans (located across the street from the cemetary on Esplanade Street, a few blocks down from City Park) until his wife died in the early 1990's.

This relative was a man of some stature in the New Orleans Republican Party for many years, going back to the early 1960's.

Now, approximately two weeks prior to the event in late November 1963, this relative made comments to some of his friends along the lines that someone should "take that b*stard Kennedy out" (such comments were rather common back in that day with many people who disagreed with JFK; he was a President that people either loved or hated, with no in-between).

After making that comment, this relative's small business was audited by the IRS not once, but for EVERY YEAR from 1964 until it closed in 1993.

So lesson learned: watch your mouth; Big Brother (or in the case of politics, your political enemies) can sometimes have a very, very long reach.

I don't care if the governm... (Below threshold)
RA:

I don't care if the government knows who I'm calling to see if I'm in with a terrorist. Even if they record my conversation it cannot be used in court without a warrant.

All this is ACLU hysteria and is wonderful cover for our enemies. Americans are stupid!

Some people just aren't ser... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

Some people just aren't serious about protecting this nation against terrorism.

Too bad to see that Paul is one of those unserious types.

I'm wondering why no one me... (Below threshold)
jetlag:

I'm wondering why no one mentions 'Eschelon.' According to wikipedia: "ECHELON is a highly secretive world-wide signals intelligence and analysis network run by the UKUSA Community. [1] ECHELON can capture radio and satellite communications, telephone calls, faxes and e-mails nearly anywhere in the world and includes computer automated analysis and sorting of intercepts. [2] ECHELON is estimated to intercept up to 3 billion communications every day."
This has been going on a lot longer than most people realize (early sixties, anyone?) And yes, it's important to safeguard our privacy, but I believe it's already lost. Perhaps Synova has the best response; our only hope is to get lost in the data.

Anyone willing to trade fre... (Below threshold)

Anyone willing to trade freedom for safety deserves neither.

I'm not discounting the problem. What gets me though is how certain people who seem to have no problem with an invasive nanny government find data crunching of phone records suddenly beyond the pale.

Sorta like all the noise about "illegal" distribution of the personal information of high school students to military recruiters. Go to a "public" school and the recruiters get a list with your name on it. It's been that way forever. But now, suddenly, it's "illegal" and invasive and whatever else.

Oh, and Bush's fault.

Oh, and I've got no reason ... (Below threshold)

Oh, and I've got no reason to think that Paul is a proponent of the nanny state, so I'm not talking about him.

<a href="http://today.reute... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Bush agrees to full NSA oversight by Congress
Tue May 16, 2006 6:18pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House, in an abrupt reversal, will allow the full Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees to review President George W. Bush's domestic spying program, congressional officials said on Tuesday.

Two days before the program was expected to dominate Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden's Senate confirmation hearing as CIA director, the Republican chairmen of the Senate and House panels said separately that Bush had agreed to allow full committee oversight of his Terrorist Surveillance Program.

The program, which allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens without first obtaining warrants, has stirred an outcry in Congress among lawmakers who believe Bush may have overstepped his constitutional authority.

Gee, maybe it wasn't too much to ask after all? That didn't hurt at all - now did it?

paul, you got one thing rig... (Below threshold)
tim:

paul, you got one thing right: the title. nobody is buying the argument. try another issue that promotes meaningful debate. ms'media owns this shallow, tactical attempt to undermine hayden.

Hmmm.1. I did that... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

1. I did that phone number bit and came up with nothing.


2. This is ridiculous Paul. The NSA does have a need for this data because the phone companies aren't going to hold onto it forever. And a single link revealed could be enough to smash a sleeper cell.

As many people know, Presi... (Below threshold)
DOUG BOOK:

As many people know, President Lincoln arrested and jailed the Governor of Illinois for his very vocal position on the Civil war. And FDR placed some 100,000 Japanese in camps against the possibility of sabotage or other treachery. We can argue pros and cons of these actions, but neither has been repeated. I don't believe it is best to discard something which might benefit the security of the nation because the potential for abuse exists. The potential for abuse always exists, especially where governments are concerned. The Clintons used the FBI, ATF and US Marshalls to surveil groups and individuals hostile to abortion, or hostile to the Clintons! They amassed some 900 opponents (enemies) FBI files. They did not learn this behavior from Ronald Reagan or Bush 41. Shameless, corrupt, self-serving people are going to abuse the power of their position in all cases. If no precedent for such abuse exists, they will create it. If their predecessors have made honorable use of something, they will corrupt it. But to not avail ourselves of something valuable because we don't want to give such people a head start on mischief is naive. You mention that we on the right should know the potential for abuse on the part of government. I agree. But more importantly, conservatives should recognize the honor that exists in many individuals. When we replace the proper skepticism we have for government with an overarching cynicism for everyone connected with it, we're acting more like liberals than conservatives.

PaulYou wrote, "<i... (Below threshold)
mak44:

Paul

You wrote, "Anyone on the right who thinks this is a good idea should be disabused of that notion by 3 simple words. "President Hillary Clinton.""

A statement such as that goes to show what a paranoid puking right-wing-nut extremist that you are.

Nowhere can you demonstrate or substantiate such an outrageous statement.

The right's hatred of Hillary Clinton is lunatic & baseless.

If you can swallow the Bush?Cheney lies to fraudulently lead this nation into war w/ the resulting murder now of 2448 Americans, then you have no basis whatsoever for your claim.

How does it feel, that with your votes, you have helped facillitate this murder?

As a citizen of Australia, ... (Below threshold)

As a citizen of Australia, a fair dinkum democracy, military ally of USA (ANZUS), economic partner of USA (FTA); fully active in war against 'terrorism' with deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and vulnerable pacific islands, etc, etc, I have absolutely no protection against the total invasion of my privacy by the agencies of the US, CIA, NSA, etc, etc.

But in no forum do I read of any American - left, right or indifferent - concerned about that.

So, as I follow your debates, my own feelings swing between universal concern for civil liberties and "Stuff You All ... if its good enough us, its good enough for youse!"

But in no forum do I rea... (Below threshold)
toby928:

But in no forum do I read of any American - left, right or indifferent - concerned about that.

You win some, you lose some.

Tob

Dopey. There certainly can ... (Below threshold)
wizard61:

Dopey. There certainly can be anonomized data. Your "phone number in google" is a cheap non-sequiter, and has nothing to do with your point: as if google was trying to hide what you are searching for.

Petty, unfair, and if you have to resort to this it says plenty about the strength of your position - or lack thereof.

I don't get it. Paul prese... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I don't get it. Paul presents an opposition to this kind of program from what amounts to three perspectives, the utilitarian, the libertarian, and the traditional conservative (why is there a need to insert "traditional" here?). It goes without saying that liberals are already opposed to it, either because they have libertarian leanings (like myself), or believe in a right to privacy above security, or just hate all-things-Bush. So who the hell supports this kind of surveillance by their government? It almost goes without saying that monitoring suspected terrorists and their co-conspirators should be done in every capacity possible (I say almost due to the self-destructive liberals who don't seem to understand the value of security), but to monitor everyone? How can any of you defend this? Legal or not, who among you actually is comfortable with the government compiling detailed files on you that include your phone records, internet activity, medical records, voter registration, and more? What the hell is going on in this country?

Good point, Geoffrey. Pro... (Below threshold)

Good point, Geoffrey. Probably about the time I graduated from high school (though I really can't be more accurate than "quite a while ago") there was a bit of a dust up because Israel got caught spying on the US. Indignant people were saying things about friends not spying on each other and I thought... who can possibly think that they don't? It would be irresponsible for them not to.

Countries, even allies, have the need to keep their activities secret as well as the need for accurate information about what others are up to.

It's not real likely, though, that you're looking at political retribution for bad mouthing a US politician... even potentially. You're not going to get audited by the IRS. Other than that, like the rest of us, your best bet is getting lost in the data.

mak44 should sue the Press ... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

mak44 should sue the Press and their Democrat Party partners for the horrible role they've played in furthering his ignorance ...

The reason the Administration is down in the polls has a great deal more to do with the success the Press and their friends in the Democrat Party have had in pressing forward the narrative to the casual voter and ignoramuses like mak44 that until the Bush Administration, no one had ever observed, thought, said, much less written anything that would have led anyone to believe;

  • That Saddam Hussein possessed and maintained stockpiles of WMD.
  • That Saddam Hussein sponsored, sheltered and provided training to terrorists.
  • That Saddam Hussein's terrorist connections included Al Qaeda and a collaborational relationship was possible.
  • That Saddam Hussein had a record of lying to and deceiving UN Weapons inspectors.
  • That Saddam Hussein's hatred of the United States, taken together with the above, made him a significant threat to America's national security.

Apparently, all these obviously ridiculous notions sprang, fully formed, like Athena out of the top of Zeus' head, from the diabolically creative imaginations of the Bush Administration's voluminous cast of nefarious characters, who then proceeded to sell this hitherto unheard of idea that Saddam posed a threat to the United States to a gullible American public through a pliant American Press.

So today, we're treated to the thoroughly absurd spectacle of journalists publicly castigating themselves, slapping their foreheads and shedding hot tears, for "not doing our jobs" and "agressively questioning" the Administration's supposedly clearly false assertions about Iraq, Saddam, WMD, terrorism and everything else under the sun while they're at it.

But the fact is; even if given a thousand years, not a single one of the mendacious hacks wailing and gnashing their teeth about being "misled" by the White House on WMD and Iraq would ever have thought to question the Bush Administration's assertions about Saddam Hussein's ties to terrorists, his WMD programs and his willingness to attack American interests.

And that will be because most of them spent the 1990s writing and reporting things like this;

  • From The Guardian (UK) - February 6, 1999
  • The Herald (UK)
    • HEADLINES
    • US Government - Bin Laden and Iraq Agreed to Cooperate on Weapons Development - New York Times (November 1998)
    • Iraq Has Network of Outside Help on Arms, Experts Say - New York Times (November 1998)
    • U.S. Says Iraq Aided Production of Chemical Weapons in Sudan - New York Times (August 1998)
    • Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort - New York Times (February 2000)
    • Signs of Iraqi Arms Buildup Bedevil U.S. Administration - New York Times (February 2000)
    • Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed a Missile Program - New York Times (July 2000)
    • Iraqi Work Toward A-Bomb Reported - Washington Post (September 1998)

    Note the dates. President Bush was not elected until November 2nd 2000 (not counting the recount episode) and he did not take the oath of office until January 21st 2001. So the Admnistration officials quoted in these pieces (both on or off the record) all happen to be officials of the Administration of one William Jefferson Clinton. All the American intelligence officials cited happened to be serving the Administration of William Jefferson Clinton.

    Anyone with an ounce of honesty must therefore wonder; how come it is only the Bush Administration that is accused of "misleading" the American people on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to the United States when we have the Clinton Administration's CENTCOM Commander, General Anthony Zinni saying that "Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region ... Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions ... Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months." before a Congressional Committee in 2000? How come it is only the Bush Administration that is being accused of "misleading" the American people when it was the Clinton Administration's Justice Department that filed the indictment against Osama bin Laden that stated "... al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq ..." in 1998?

    The answer is simple. By meticulously embargoing any mention of anything ever said about, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, terrorism and WMDs prior to the start of the War in Iraq, and then purposefully ignoring anything afterward that would undermine the new narrative that Saddam Hussein was never considered a threat by anyone before President Bush came to office and "manipulated intelligence" to make it so. This would include any new articles, news programs, speeches and other public statements and documents.

    Here's an example.

      ... it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. - Bill Clinton [Larry King Live (CNN) - July 22, 2003]

    The similarities between what was asserted by the Clinton and Bush administrations are so striking as to make it impossible to successfully accuse the Bush Administration of lying without implicating the Clinton Administration ... but I'm sure mak44 is going to try.

    jpm100,There's ... (Below threshold)

    jpm100,

    There's a huge difference here. Hillary has to ask for specific data on specific people in order to do this. There is also a trail. Hillary has the request/results, her minions have request/results, and the people holding the data have the request/results. The latter being an organization not directly beholding to Hillary.

    So if Hillary started studying relationship on people who belong to the NRA, there's a papertrail to track that abuse.

    How naive. You mean like the Clintons "asked" for hundreds and hundreds of FBI files on their political enemies? They were held accountable though, right? Bottom line, leftists couldn't care less about the rule of law. They do whatever they want.




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