Monday, December 19, 2005

Wiretap roundup

Lots to read about Bush's espionage arrogance. Is it my imagination, or has the weakened president become a much riper target for the press? He does not seem to be getting the free pass that they have since 9/11.

Nice to see the press doing there job. But we live for blogs, so let's sample two strong ones. First Josh Marshall has been insightful. Here with what a disingenuous thing to say

Wiretaps are conducted around the country every day. The FISA Court alone approves something like a half a dozen a day in highly classified national security or espionage related cases.

The only issue here is why the president decided to go around the normal rules that govern such surveillance, why he chose to make himself above the law.

Another favorite blog, Defense Tech was the first place I read the insight that maybe we are not talking about garden variety wiretaps here. Maybe there is more than meets the eye. New Tech Behind NSA Snoop Case?
That's all assuming, of course, that the wiretaps in this case are the same as in any other. But maybe they're not. Maybe there's something different about this surveillance. It could be in its scope, as Laura suggests. But I'm guessing -- and this is just a guess -- that the real difference is in the technology of the wiretaps themselves.
Josh is following up this line of inquiry with fishing expedition
I'm not sure it's data-mining precisely. Perhaps they're doing searches for certain patterns of words or numbers, perhaps something as simple as a phone number. But unlike 'traditional' wiretapping, in which you're catching the conversations of a relatively small and defined group of people, this may involve listening in on a big slice of the email or phone communications in the country looking for a particular phone number or code or perhaps a reference to a particular name.

From a technological point of view there's not really much outlandish about this at all. This is just the sort of thing the NSA is in the business of doing overseas. But you can see how this would just be a non-starter for getting a warrant. It is the definition of a fishing expedition.

Let me bring this back to Captain Fishback's quote, "Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession." Bush as always been an amoral, cynical, gutless puke. This is just more proof.

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