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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wiretap Dance

(Keywords: , , on the tens of millions of americans who both are and aren't )

From USA Today:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

''The intelligence activities undertaken by the United States government are lawful, necessary and required to protect Americans from terrorist attacks,'' said Dana Perino, the deputy White House press secretary. Bush himself has said, "To save American lives we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks."

The problem is that the lies contradict each other. Bush has also said, "We fight our enemies abroad instead of waiting for them to arrive in our country. We seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it; to influence events for the better instead of being at their mercy."

But if we're fighting 'our enemies abroad instead of waiting for them to arrive in our country' and the eavesdropping is only done to prevent terrorist attacks, then why tens of millions of conversations? If all the conversations relate to terrorism, then tens of millions of terrorists are in the US, rendering the idea that we're 'fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them here' absurd.

On the other hand, if there aren't tens of millions of terrorists in the US, then the idea that all of these conversations are terrorist related is also absurd. Both positions can't possibly be true. And it strikes me as very likely that neither are.

Meanwhile, Bush has nominated the director of the agency running this wiretap monstrosity to direct the CIA. Hiring Air Force General Michael Hayden is hiring an unfolding scandal. It's an extremely stupid move. He might as well have nominated Harriet Myers. Bush will lose this nomination fight and his numbers will sink further as a result.

This may be the scandal that brings Bush down and he's throwing gas on the fire. What a stupid, stupid man.