"The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker
Geek Hint of the Day:
There are a lot of links on this page.
If you right click a link you can choose 'open in new window' so you won't navigate away from the page.
AT&T and Verizon are now lobbying for immunity from prosecution for warrantless surveillance? They not only offered up voice and data communications from their own customers, but also intercepted data from other companies and turned it over without so much as a warrant or a court order. For years. And now they're expecting Congress and the President to come to their rescue in the face of impending law suits.
Although I do agree, to a certain extent, that there should be accountability in other arenas also, there is no doubt in my mind that this comes down to personal responsibility. The one thing we, as Americans, know, is that we are all responsible and accountable when our decisions and actions harm or threaten someone else. When we've stepped over the line. And there's also civic responsibility. When you consider the magnitude of trust that we have put into the hands of both of these companies it's more than just a bad business deal. It's a betrayal of the public trust (MCI).
I'm sure they feel that some of the responsibility should fall on the shoulders of the government. That there should be a certain amount of 'divine intervention' when what they were doing was obviously condoned and welcomed by the NSA. And was obviously quite well hidden by all parties involved also. If it hadn't been for Mark Klein the world may never have known that there really are men in little rooms handing over our private phone calls, emails and Internet habits to be scrutinized as if we're all criminals. I'm sure Heinlein is probably high-fiving Orwell right now saying 'Dude, you so nailed that one!'
According to the Washington Post President Bush is threatening to veto The Restore Act if the Telecoms aren't given retroactive immunity from persecution. He's quoted as saying that the proposal to require court approval in surveillance procedures "would take us backward". I couldn't agree more. Backward to a time when protection under the Fourth Amendment protected us against 'unreasonable search and seizure' and it was not only expected, but demanded, by all Americans, not just the Un-Patriotic terrorist-lovers, but every American who understood what those rights represented. How incredibly significant they were in this world. Back to a time when it was our enemies we had to fear, not our own White House, not our telephone companies and Internet providers.
"[...] will they limit our ability to collect this intelligence and keep us safe, staying a step ahead of the terrorists who want to attack us?" I'm wondering which terrorists he means. Our loss of privacy hasn't gotten us one step closer to bringing Osama Bin Laden and the terrorists who brutally murdered 3,000 American citizens to justice.
Oooops. Did I say that out loud?
Osama Bin WhoWho? Remember him? I know it's been years and, really, I should be over it by now. I mean, how long can a girl hold a grudge, right? By now he's probably gumming his dinner and wearing diapers anyway, if he hasn't already died of old age.
But he's the one I want. The only one I really want.
I know. Al Q. They're over there right now, arming up and training and chanting death to Americans. But it's decidedly quiet outside tonight. I can hear a dog barking from three backyards over. I wonder if the 'bad' terrorists think we've moved? I just can't fathom that in the six years we've frantically tried to prevent them from attacking us--they haven't even tried. Oh wait. There was that airplane-shoe-guy. It just goes to prove what I've known all along--it's always the converts. But honestly, that very very strange looking guy did make me have to throw out a brand new bottle of 'Tommy Girl' perfume. And for that I'll never forgive. Never.
I don't think this massive betrayal by AT&T and Verizon, or the President's hardline position on Rights? We don't need no stinkin' Rights, is going to protect us any more than it already has. I don't think it's done us any good at all. Americans have been getting attacked for a long time. Beirut, Iran; Maybe it's because we seem proud to them? Like we think we're better than everyone else. Maybe it's because we say what we want to whomever we want. Or because we've been offered the chance to prosper in freedom and we carry ourselves with the confidence of people who know that we matter; we count, and we raise our own children to be just as confident that they have a voice, and a say, in everything in the world that effects them--We got that from our fore-fathers, they said it was so and we trust them that it is so.
And our President said almost that exact thing in his Speech in 2001.
"They hate ... a democratically elected government. ... They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
Maybe he meant these enemies?
So I just have to say 'Shame on you, Mr. President', for fighting to make their immunity retroactive. For trying to force us to let them get away with the harm they've caused us all as a nation. For not making them own up to what they've done. Just like someone else. We're supposed to just keep looking away.
I'm a Veteran. My husband is also. We've picked up arms and put our lives on the line because we believe that this Country, and every person in it, is worth protecting. And we believe that our rights are what make us Americans, and we are confident enough in our own justfulness to extend those rights to people who do us harm. Because we were, and are, patriots.
I know a lot of people freak out about this whole surveillance issue. Thinking that they're being targeted, watched. That men and women are sitting around listening to every word in their phone conversations, reading every word that they write in an e-mail, secretly making notes of every prOn page they view on the Internet. But I have it on very good 'authority' that it really isn't so. Our guys aren't exactly this strack tracking unit, monitoring our comings and goings with high-tech surveillance equipment like in the movie 'Enemy of the State'.
The truth is, their equipment is really outdated. They don't even update and patch their servers like they should. They have to hire outside companies to come in to help find the files and documents they lose. And can you say email? I know it would have made some people feel better to think that there was some mastermind, some evil genius, working behind the scenes, destroying data and emails so that they could never be recovered, so that they could never be used to incriminate them. But honestly. It was just crappy equipment, and technicians who are so overworked and stressed out trying to keep everything going with scotch tape and chewing gum that they've been known to have knock-down, drag-out fights with their car GPS systems just so they can turn off the engine and have the last word.
In a way it's really a win-win situation; if we all think that we're under super secret, high tech surveillance we'll get paranoid, and stop talking so much about the things that are going wrong, it'll distract us from issues that used to be important. We'll be more afraid of the people around us and who we can trust, we'll have to trust the government because they're our only hope. But we'll have to fear them also, because they know our secrets. And we have no idea what they're looking for, what the 'trigger' mechanism is, but we know that they're watching us. And our enemies will see that fear, and they'll trust that we wouldn't be so angry and paranoid if it weren't true. They'll have to change the way they plan their attacks. They'll have to slow down, to really think things through. They'll have to give up some of their Kabal and beer nights so they aren't seen together as often. They'll have to send messages through the personal ads, like Desperately Seeking Susan, and that's really good for us. With no phone and no Internet it could take weeks just to get an ad to run. Let alone decipher it and respond.
No. It's not really the specific information that AT&T and Verizon gave up on us that bothers me. There isn't really much that they can do with it, except lose it or leave it un-secured, so that the identity thieves get their hands on it-- or unwittingly upload it to the Internet (I can just imagine my mother's mortification if they did that to me, I'd be off to the nunnery, tout de suite). I seriously doubt that they have the manpower to go through that data with a fine-toothed comb though, and find anything significant that will lead them to the 'Them'. All four of the 'Them' that could possibly be in a city the size of Atlanta.
I, personally, don't think I could take day in and day out of having to read or listen to the communications of my own neighbors and co-workers, 2000 of the nicest, sweetest, most boring people you could ever meet. And I'm sure my own Internet usage could probably knock someone into early retirement. All the YouTube and pRon and MySpace messages, Facebook and recipes, Ladies Home Journal and about 50 subscriptions to tech emails from Windows Secrets to Cert Advisories. McAfee's great offers that come in about ten times a day even though I wrote them and told them that I am never, ever -not even under threat of death or dismemberment- going to pay for their crappy Anti-virus software when I can't even un-install the stupid trial version they let me download for free 2 years ago. O and I playing on-line Scrabble and IMing at the same time. Sending each other links to I Can Has Cheeseburger and pictures flying back and forth of what we're eating, what we're drinking, 'Damn, doesn't my neighbor have a hairy back', 'I found this weird looking spider under my kitchen sink'. Then there are the long-long-looooooong emails from my grandmother about her hernia and which one of her 200 cats is on death's door this week. And the joke emails that all of my sisters forward around all day. I have 4 sisters. I get the same email 4 times over the course of the day. After the second read it's just not funny anymore. Except for this one. It always makes me smile. My mom sent it to me because I was having a really stressed out week. I saved the music and turned it into her ring tone. Now I actually smile when she calls to tell me that she needs me to come over and chase the squirrels out of her attic. And SPAM! Holy Cow! I had 200 SPAM messages yesterday alone after my email address was added to our work website. I finally started hitting reply on them and sending back a message 'I know you probably didn't send this, I'm sure the email address is spoofed, but I'm having a bad day and somebody is going to hear about it.' I then wrote about ten paragraphs of my chief complaints and copy/pasted it into every SPAM message that came in. Seriously, I'd feel sorry for the guy who had to surveille me. Better to just get a spider to crawl it all and hope it runs into something good, like 'By Allah, I feeling like to up blow something.'
You see. It's not what they'll find that bothers me. I think we all know that, even if they read a million emails, the chances of them finding anything even remotely useful are infinitesimal, and that's being generous. And it's not that I feel like they're reading my personal emails and passing them around laughing at my half-assed attempts at being erotic when I can't even spell tounge.
It's just about it being wrong. Wrong to betray people who trust you. And Un-American to stomp all over the rights that we've had to fight to preserve, and then sit in a meeting with the President and try to get him to make 'retroactive' their immunity after screwing us all. And if being against the war is un-patriotic, then what the hell does that make them? They've turned on their own people. Innocent people who are just exercising their right as a soul to breathe. I'm sure they wouldn't give us all carte blanche to listen to their phone calls and intercept their emails, even if there was nothing bad in them, it's just the principle of the thing. Look who I'm talking about principles. Sheesh.
And, I guess, most of all, it's no one else's business, except my friends and loved ones, if I can't spell tounge. That's something that they don't have the right to know about me. Unless I choose to share it with them.