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Baseball Metaphor

Monday, May 15, 2006 12:52 AM

The Bush Administration continues its tired song-and-dance about how everything they've done is legal, with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley making the rounds.

This time, the wax-and-shinola offers that the surveillance program was, 'narrowly designed,' and pointing out that the USA Today article said the program did not involve listening to individual calls.

That's right - the Administration is using the very same article that exposed their latest indulgence in lawbreaking to defend their actions.

Tens of millions of domestic calls, whether monitored for content or not, does not equate to narrowly defined. Do the math.

Senator Arlen Specter looks forward to the testimony of phone company executives in the coming week, noting that, "... they cannot claim executive privilege," as the Bush Administration has routinely done.

You're fooling yourself, Arlen. The telco folks will smile and tell you that they were merely in compliance with the Justice Department, the NSA, CIA, and the White House ... and the White House will stonewall you to a fare-the-well once more.

Until you put the screws to the Chekist-in-Chief and his cronies, you won't get anywhere.


What is making the continued ravaging of the Constitution possible is that far too many voters in this country just don't give a hoot.

The axiom is that all security involves tradeoffs. In this case, most people go, 'Well, if it's necessary to stop terrorism, I guess it's okay." End of story.

Except the story is neatly-packaged bullshit.

Take, for example, the continued insistence that we are safer by way of this magical (and illegal) wiretap program. If We Catch The Right Conversation, we can stop the terrorists. This specious logic has been uttered by both Vice-President Dick Cheney and General Michael Hayden.

That's like having an outfielder stand rooted to one spot and hope to have a winning season. In short order, the opposing team will start aiming pitches where the holes are, and you'll be sitting there wondering why you aren't heading to the All-Star Game.

A strong team plays with overlapping coverage. It knows how to adjust for depth or close-in. It can effectively throw to a cut-off man for a relay or a double play.

With the alleged data-mining program, we're being sold the Total Information Awareness nonsense again. That, by tracking call numbers, we can get a picture of whom the terrorists are talking to, thus outlining their network and wrapping up the whole package.

But what makes a pattern one of interest? Is it the person who calls a mosque, then calls for a flight to Washington, D.C.? What of the person who calls Langley, Virginia, and then calls a mosque?

And what if we all decide to call a mosque, or call our elected representatives? Is the call to Starbucks important, or is it the call to Home Depot that should draw our attention? What if a terrorist suspect calls a number belonging to someone who has absolutely no connection to terrorism at all? Are they a suspect, with their phone records combed over for possible connections?

Patterns can be exploited. It's called social engineering.

We need security that is rooted in reality. The protections afforded through the 4th Amendment exist to safeguard the public - not just criminals - against witch hunts and abuses of power.


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