Some bullet-pointed thoughts while trying to digest the news that the government has apparently been logging all of my phone calls for years now…
all of yours, too and reading my email and thumbing through my pictures and videos. And yours, too.
- It’s quite proper for some arms of our government to investigate potential threats and suspected wrongdoers, which is why we have laws that allow them to get a court’s permission to spy on certain people when they can show there’s good reason to be suspicious and have a need to gather more information. The do not have the right, or should not have the right, to spy on the entire citizenry on general principle. But that appears to be the wrong-headed interpretation of a portion of The Patriot Act that’s led to this secret court order: the government can track every phone call you make, you and every other American citizen, including the 99 and 44/100ths percent of us who not only aren’t guilty of any crime but who aren’t even suspected of having committed a crime nor of having been complicit in the commission of a crime, all in order to protect us from some generalized threat of a terrorist attack. Asinine.
- The judge who approved this order needs to have his head examined.
- Think about the quantity of data this order would generate…on a daily basis! What is the FBI doing with it?
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes, a CNN contributor, suggested one way such an order might help fight terrorism.
“If a phone number comes up being connected to someone of suspicion, then (investigators) can go back and look at all of the numbers that phone number called or was called by, how long the calls were, what location the calls were made from, that type of information,” he said on CNN’s “Starting Point.”
“It’s not that someone or some group of analysts can sit there and monitor 50 million phone calls going through the computers. But it would create the ability to go back and see if you could connect phone calls.”
- There are plenty of people inside the government who think this domestic intelligence gathering is a good thing, and has been useful in thwarting attacks. Even if that’s so, I’m still opposed: I’m not so naïve that I think the data will sit safe and undisturbed until the day some investigator just happens to ID a suspicious phone number and needs to find out what other numbers that number talked to.
- We cannot be such a craven and cowardly people that we’re willing to let our government spy on us constantly and record our activities and our associations in the name of protecting us from terrorist threats. If that’s true, then not only have the terrorists already won but the American example of an open and free society is lost. What the hell would the Founding Fathers think of us if they knew we were willing to abandon our liberty to a government that assured us it is only looking over our shoulders and listening to our phone calls for our own good?
- The secret court order says the order itself won’t be declassified for 25 years; the order even orders that no one who knows about the order can confirm the existence of the order. But, we know about it because a journalist did his job. Is there a more clear and dramatic example of the value of journalism serving a free society?
And now, evidence of PRISM, in which the government has been “tapping into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.” The companies in question “participate knowingly” in the program. Are you OK with that, too?