Thursday, May 11, 2006

NSA: Not-So-Secret Listening

Michelle Malkin has a round-up of the NSA wiretapping leak, again, and interestingly timed, again, around the next CIA chief's appointment.I don't like the idea of the government listening in on my conversations. Do you? Nope. You don't either.

I like the idea of some wack-job terrorist blowing up the Empire State Building or the LA Airport or even Michael Moore's spread in Flint, Michigan (I don't know where he lives, by the way, I'm taking artistic license) even less.

Intercepting communication has always been part of effective warfare. And we ARE at war. He who controls the most accurate information often has the upper hand and definitely a distinct advantage over the opponent sitting in the information dark.

In times past, information was spread through couriers, the mail system, and phone wires. There were less operatives and less access to high-tech communcations. When the local operator had to patch everyone through, and people shared phone lines, secrecy was almost non-existant.

Times have changed. Disposable phones, satellite phones, picking your phone number from anywhere, ease of travel and moving here and there, internet encryption, etc. make it far easier for bad guys to stay in business and more difficult for warriors to intercept information.

Computer technology designed to pick up patterns, to evaluate abstract data and extrapolate meaning helps the good guys comb through the abyss. When patterns emerge that get reinforced over and over, a live person may begin following the data. Who cares who the person is at this point? When the data points in a disturbing direction, that person is checked. (I'm guessing. But this is what I would do.) After that, maybe there are a couple piles on the operative's desk: no threat, mild threat, moderate threat, definite psycho and we need to wire-tap him. That has happened around 1000 times in the last year. Aren't you surprised it didn't happen more?

If you're prone to conspiracy theory, you're thinking, "That's what they'd like for you to believe." The government is watching me, right now, as I sit here looking at...... Ack! I don't want anyone to find out how big a scumbag I really am!

If you're prone to paranoia, you're thinking that you've been a target of Big Brother for quite a long time. Maybe it's just your conscious or God watching you, dirt bag. But I digress.

Anyway, no one likes to think that the government has the power to peer into our pathetic little lives, but they do. Exhibit A: The IRS routinely audits doctors to the tune of 1 in 10/year get audited. For all the not-doctors out there the stat is like 1 in 100 to 1/10,000 depending on your income level. This is hardly fair. Are doctors more criminal than other Americans? I wouldn't think so, but there is that little thing of income bracket... The IRS licks its sloppy chops. If the government can extract 10% more out of someone who makes more, why go after someone else's crumbs?

I'm guessing the NSA similarly discriminates while looking for information. Unfair? Maybe. Logical? Definitely. Moral during a war? Absolutely.

How else do you foil potential plots? Are some of us still naive enough to believe there are no other plots? Has five years lulled us into complacent fatness?

While the terrorists are definitely on the run, there are still terrorists. Heaven forbid, the government acts towards these potential mass murderers the way law enforcement treats potential crime. Try going to the police, like my girlfriend did, after being followed for miles by a deranged guy intent on doing harm. She got his license plate, eventually lost him, but he followed her into a parking lot, waited for her, and she got lucky. "Sorry ma'am, but if no crime is committed, there's really nothing we can do."

"Sorry, America, but there is really nothing we can do until a terrorist acts. We can't arrest someone on conjecture."

While I cherish my civil liberties, I consider my life to be chief among them. Should a terrorist plot come to fruition and the information that Quest didn't share with the government could have helped prevent death and destruction and economic ruin and terror on American soil, will people say, "At least I have my civil liberties"? Some will. Hopefully they aren't the ones running the government right now.

I think that there are some people who don't believe we are at war at all. And this is a different war. It is insidious. It will go on for a long time.

Some Americans fear that with no end in sight, civil liberties will vanish as time marches on. That is a legitimate fear. A representative democracy must be ever-vigilant. But for the time being, an NSA "listening" program seems not only part of a well-fought war but vital to our nations security.


Chalmers said...

I guess it should start surprising me less that I disagree with you big sis, but alas posts like this one still surprise me.

We are at war with whom exactly? Iraq? We have already won that war, as we have also won the Afghani war (Just ask W... "Mission Accomplished"). So what is left is the "concept" of terrorism. What a great deal for the current Administration! A war against all and none (remember, if you are not with us, ie. agree with everything we tell you, you are against us). A war against an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum.

Meanwhile, on the home front, we can't figure out if we are at war or not. Our president is pushing tax cuts (something the USA has never done while at war), but he is also tracking US Citizen's phone calls (we are at war after all). Which is it? When we want to cut taxes and spend more money, there is no mention of war, but when we need to violate civil liberties, it is the first thing being shouted.

Just as an aside, why is it every time a story breaks on civil liberties being violated, the administration says, "well, yeah we did that, but we are at war, the rest of your civil liberties are our first priority!" Seems like the only reason we have any insight into this administration is the over-zealous, liberally-biased media. Thank goodness for them, even though they still don't go far enough! Then again, the "majority" of amerika would be happy with Brit Hume telling them what the "truth" is.

anyhow, Happy Mother's day sis. Those kids are worth the price of admission. I just hope you aren't forced (encouraged) to get them tagged like a humpback whale some day to "fight the terrorists."

your peace-loving, gun toting, liberally biased bro, mc

Chalmers said...

Still ok living permanently in an Orwellian 1984?,70944-0.html