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Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans
November 9, 2002 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans And this is justified because of National Security. We will lose much that is personal, private, but in turn we will be protefted against the bad guys. Or will we? When NASA and CIA claim they need to spy domestically, and computers gather all data on Americans, what is left that is not what Orwell had suggested might our future be like?Or, as Morth Sahl once labelled a comic record: TheFuture Lies Ahead."
posted by Postroad (97 comments total)

 
Not that I'm saying this isn't completely appalling, but the government has had Project Carnivore in place for years now, which is a system that basically monitors any and all phone, radio, and airwaves that traverse throughout the North American continent. So, this can't be much more intrusive than the atrocities our government is already doing to privacy.

That said, I'm sure no one will be too upset about this gigantic database of personal information that the government will have easy access to. I mean, it's not like they're recording any information about our firearms, so we're all safe from them. Yep.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:52 AM on November 9, 2002


Correction: it's called Echelon, not Carnivore. Or maybe its both. Arg.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:53 AM on November 9, 2002


NASA?
posted by singmesomething at 9:01 AM on November 9, 2002


Total Information Awareness. Mother of God.

Remember this next time someone talks about punctuated equilibrium -- that change can come like a landslide rather than an ever-gradual shifting. It's not just civil liberties that are eroding all at once; it's the will to care about them. This administration and the current minset that funds it sees civil liberties as the exercise of pinhead liberals and criminals -- and therefore best disposed of.

And dig this quote:

"[The Defense Department has] a pretty good vision of the need to make the tradeoffs in favor of more sharing and openness."

Where, exactly, is the trade in this tradeoff?
posted by argybarg at 9:16 AM on November 9, 2002


The existence of Echelon and Carnivore (two slightly different technologies if I remember right) has been known for a while, what isn't known is how pervasive it is. Larger ISPs have been asked or told that they need to provide easy entry for the government, just in case any of their users are terrorists. This part of the technology is called Carnivore (or may now be named something kinder and gentler, who knows?) The tapping of other communications, if I understand correctly, is done by Echelon.

Echelon has been around for quite a while, and was run by the NSA. The NSAs mandate, as far as it has a public mandate, is to gather intelligence by tapping any signals which enter the USA. They're not supposed to tap U.S. citizens unless they make the leap and communicate across the national boundary.

The FBI has historically been the entity that spied on U.S. citizens, but are supposed to have check and balances against them to prevent casual surveillance. I.e., they can't just wire-tap your phones, they have to get a court order.

On paper this probably doesn't change. They'll imply that they're merely adding technology that will allow them to tap peoples communications if necessary. To me this is like concealing a webcam in somebody's shower, just in case you have reason to believe their life may be in danger, maybe Norman Bates is her landlord. But honest, we won't activate it otherwise.

The other problem is, part of the technology is looking for certain watchwords and flagging the communications. Are these flags enough to get a court order to turn on the wire tap? Will this wire tap be retroactive? If they just happened to have communications stored (which they'd never look at, honest) does the permission apply retroactively? What are these watchwords? Obvious ones would be any anti-government speech, but what about subversive speech, or speech that the present government considers immoral?
posted by substrate at 9:22 AM on November 9, 2002


Homeland Security under the authority of the President alone. . .Secret meetings of which no one may see the minutes. . .wars fought without reporters. . .then suddenly: your country is no longer your own.
posted by four panels at 9:32 AM on November 9, 2002


What are these watchwords? Obvious ones would be any anti-government speech, but what about subversive speech, or speech that the present government considers immoral?

You really think anything could possibly be gained from scanning for that kind of communication? Are you under the impression that anti-american, anti-bush, anti-capitalism, anti-everything language is somehow rare? or that anybody in government feels threatened by any of it? did you not see the election four days ago? i don't think those are the types of things al queda chatter on about incessantly...

The sheer volume of absolutely useless information (you saved $.37 on deodorant using your VIP card!) that would be gathered by a blanketing surveillance of American citizens would not help anybody fight terrorism. shockingly the chances are the spooks already know this and won't bother.

I don't want the government to invade my privacy... I don't want the government to invade anybody's privacy without establishing a substancial need, but i also don't think the government is interested in gathering information for the hell of it, because most of it has no value.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:15 AM on November 9, 2002


I would prefer a world full of terrorists than a world without a United States of America based upon its traditional values of freedom, liberty and individuality.

I am coming to understand though that somehow, inexplicably, I have become part of a shrinking minority in this preference. It grows more difficult every day not to despise the cowards among us who would destroy something over two centuries in the making--arguably the crowning achievement (thus far) of the species-- because a few evil men frighten them with some dramatic but largely illusory threats to their well-being and comfort.

Have Americans ever been as weak, as complacent, as un-tough, as ready to capitulate as we are today?
posted by rushmc at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2002


techgnollogic: Yes, I do think someone wants to weed through the information. Especially as it becomes easier to let computers weed out the "deodorant" noise.

rushmc: as part of the shrinking minority we need to become more vocal. I seriously hope someone can hack into any system the US spooks set up and find out what are some of the watchwords.

Then we could drop them in randomly in all communication or turn the words into new slang -- "I saved $.37 on bush wipe at the Winn-Dixie yesterday. I hope my cheney meat doesn't spoil."
posted by ?! at 10:35 AM on November 9, 2002


Any one looking for official information can check out DARPA's Information Awareness Office. Make sure you look at the Total Information Awareness System, that is mentioned in the article.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:37 AM on November 9, 2002


You poor Americans are so fucked. Your government has spun out of control and there seems to be nothing you can do about it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2002


I hope that is not a complacent, "doesn't-affect-me" tone I detect, fff. Remember, a rogue U.S. can (and will) stampede all over the entire world. This is not just a problem for Americans.
posted by rushmc at 10:53 AM on November 9, 2002


fff:

Remember when the WTC was on fire but intact? And then the top of each building dropped and just piledrived the entire building into rubble? It's still dropping, it feels like. I don't know who or what has the strength to stop it.
posted by argybarg at 10:58 AM on November 9, 2002


I personally don't care if the government reads my email or knows where I surf on the web. I can't for the life of me figure out what good it would do them.
posted by revbrian at 10:59 AM on November 9, 2002


rushmc: I just don't see it... I mean I see the polls about trading privacy for safety... but just don't think we're going to roll over and play dead for some wannabe emperor... what's in it for anybody? Being free and able to do and say damn near anything we want any time of day has made us the most power nation in history... the richest nation in history... the greatest yada yada yada... and all that freedom and liberty has produced the society and culture that made all these evil rich men who the lefties think are really in charge THE RICH IN CHARGE MEN THEY ARE TODAY and what's in it for them to fuck that up? what's in it for anybody? convenience? bush jokes about a dictatorship being more convenient but who wants to fuck with this equation? why? Power? It doesn't last - there more to be had in the current model anyway. where's the motivation? people get all angry and sad when you oppress them... they don't work hard to buy your tvs and shampoo and SUVs... Who's interests is it in? Elitists anti-democratic, anti-populists who think they know whats best for us, that's who, and that's it, and history teaches us that those people keep losing and losing bad, and I don't think Bush wants to be one of them.


?! said: Yes, I do think someone wants to weed through the information. Especially as it becomes easier to let computers weed out the "deodorant" noise.

Yeah and what if? Some faceless computer that's never gonna tell anyone you dye your hair is going to mine through mountains of useless data and leave the potentially important nuggets, and who'd care to wager that 99.9% of Americans end up in the "unimportant to national security" pile... where's the threat to lifestyle and liberty?
posted by techgnollogic at 11:01 AM on November 9, 2002


techgnollogic:

Societies and organizations, like individuals, often do not act in their own best interests.
posted by argybarg at 11:07 AM on November 9, 2002


Pursuant to the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a warrant is not (always) required for gathering domestic communications, and these proposed (enacted?) activities may be justifiable considering they are in the interest of national security.

CALEA provides for the interception of communications without the requirement of a warrant ("a court order") and when there is "other lawful authorization." I conducted minimal research on "other lawful authorization" and was unable to find substantive material. What it does not mean, though, is the requirement of a court order. Perhaps "other lawful authorization" includes matters related to "national security" and/or approval from governmental officials who possess "lawful authorization."

The Act provides no restrictions or thresholds related to government activities which may or may not be conducted or approved pursuant to "other lawful authorization." For instance, perhaps a governmental official does not need to obtain a court order to record communications of an individual because he/she can merely grant such approval on his/her own or from a supervising agent/official. Perhaps an official him/herself may determine what activities are appropriately deemed as affecting "national security" and it is not necessary to obtain approval from a court. What if the act of monitoring all communications within the US has been deemed necessary for "national security" purposes?

Selected text of CALEA includes:
....
[A] telecommunications carrier shall ensure that its equipment, facilities, or services that provide a customer or subscriber with the ability to originate, terminate, or direct communications are capable of -

(1) expeditiously isolating and enabling the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, to intercept, to the exclusion of any other communications, all wire and electronic communications carried by the carrier within a service area to or from equipment, facilities, or services of a subscriber of such carrier concurrently with their transmission to or from the subscriber's equipment, facility, or service, or at such later time as may be acceptable to the government.
....
(2) expeditiously isolating and enabling the government,
pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, to
access call-identifying information that is reasonably available to the carrier
.....
(3) delivering intercepted communications and call-identifying information to the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, in a format such that they may be transmitted by means of equipment, facilities, or services procured by the government to a location other than the premises of the carrier; and

(4) facilitating authorized communications interceptions and
access to call-identifying information unobtrusively and with a minimum of interference with any subscriber's telecommunications service....
(47 USC 1002).

A telecommunications carrier shall ensure that any interception of communications or access to call-identifying information effected within its switching premises can be activated only in accordance with a court order or other lawful authorization and with the affirmative intervention of an individual officer or employee of the carrier acting in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commission.
(47 USC 1004).
posted by quam at 11:09 AM on November 9, 2002


I personally don't care if the government reads my email or knows where I surf on the web. I can't for the life of me figure out what good it would do them.

I suppose that if you had criminal intent you would be worried about the government reading your e-mails and tracking your usage. I suppose that we should assume that EVERYONE who opposes such a move has criminal intent. For comparison:

A tiny minority of those who purchase firearms use them in furtherance of criminal activities...
...ergo...
we must ban and/or severely restrict all firearms sales.

So it follows that...

A tiny minority of those who utilize open internet services use them in furtherance of criminal activities...
...ergo...
we must ban and/or severely restrict the open usage of internet services.

Freedom is an all or nothing proposal. Personally, I'd rather have the government reading my e-mail and profiling my net usage and have relatively unrestricted firearms availability. I with Brian, I have nothing to hide so why would I care?
posted by RevGreg at 11:23 AM on November 9, 2002


Yeah and what if? Some faceless computer that's never gonna tell anyone you dye your hair is going to mine through mountains of useless data and leave the potentially important nuggets, and who'd care to wager that 99.9% of Americans end up in the "unimportant to national security" pile... where's the threat to lifestyle and liberty?


techgnollogic, either you're saying (1) don't worry, because this invasion of privacy shit isn't an issue, they're never going to know what to do with this mountain of mostly useless information, so it won't have any effects; (2) don't worry, because you're not likely to be in that .1% of Americans who do get scrutinized; or (3) something else which I missed.

My response to (1) would be: the limits of technology and government competence today aren't, in my view, good reasons to waive my rights not to be spied on. Who's to say they won't get better at it? As for (2), well, that .1% is still a lot of people, and I have no way of knowing, currently, that it won't be me, especially if I'm publicly saying things like "I think our current political system needs major revision," which would be both reasonable to me and grounds for investigation by the logic of the current administration.

But maybe I'm not getting you, and it's (3)?
posted by BT at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2002


You poor Americans are so fucked. Your government has spun out of control and there seems to be nothing you can do about it.

You know what, you're right! 20 or 30 more years of this and we'll be as overly regulated as most of Europe...then what?!
posted by RevGreg at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2002


I have nothing to hide so why would I care?

Hopeless. Absolutely hopeless.
posted by argybarg at 11:31 AM on November 9, 2002


[ I have nothing to hide so why would I care? ]

Hopeless. Absolutely hopeless.


Really? If I *had* criminal intent I'd try to be a bit more intelligent about it than sending open, unecrypted e-mails about it. Not only do you wish to protect criminals, you wish to protect stupid criminals. Inexcusable.
posted by RevGreg at 11:44 AM on November 9, 2002


How many major terrorist attacks have their been in the past and how many major terrorist groups are operating? Enough to justify this??
posted by chaz at 11:50 AM on November 9, 2002


How many major terrorist attacks have their been in the past and how many major terrorist groups are operating? Enough to justify this??

If it stops even ONE attack, is it not worth it? That seems to be the gun control logic so I would assume it applies to ALL situations that could result in the loss of human life...
posted by RevGreg at 11:55 AM on November 9, 2002


here's a hypothetical: we just had that whole sniper thing, so the superdatabase goes into action: it sifts for gun owners, for people who have visited hunting websites or posted to a NRA or pro second amendment messageboard, for people who subscribe to guns and ammo or any gun or hunting publication, and for people who have ever applied for a hunting license, and for people who have ever been trained anywhere in how to use a gun, and for credit card usage for ammo or guns, or hunting supplies, etc....plus it searches for anyone who has ever been in the military (the mcveigh factor), etc....then it decides that it will follow and eavesdrop on anyone who fits three or more of those criteria, looking for additional information: anti-bush or anti-government postings (even here at metafilter), emails mentioning government, 9/11, islam, etc (whether pro or con), the words osama, jihad, allah, etc (also pro or con)., and especially travel patterns to or in the north-east, as shown by credit card usage, and bus/rail/plane passenger lists (to get the people paying cash), and a hundred other search factors...

it seems to me that many many many innocent people would be caught up in that list--and if some of them are tailed everyday or brought in for questioning, well, they don't have to worry because they're innocent, right? (i'm sure i left out many other uses, but this is just an example)
posted by amberglow at 11:55 AM on November 9, 2002


RevGreg: You know what, you're right! 20 or 30 more years of this and we'll be as overly regulated as most of Europe...then what?!

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? "The us is out of control, the people don't even have a say in their gov't anymore and are abandoning their freedoms and rights!" To this, you reply that in 20 or 30 years we'll be like Europe! Wait, so is that a good thing, Revgreg- or a bad thing? If it's a good thing, then Europe must know something we don't, and you should listen to the wiser Europeans warning you of the right and wrong ways of being a nation. However, if it's a bad thing, then Europe lives in societies that we aren't familiar with... and you should listen to their warnings about how we're heading down the same path they did, like the 30-year-old stoner who still lives with his parents and works at the Qwik-E-Mart telling you to stay in school and get good grades.

I mean fuck, have you ever even been to Europe- or for that matter outside of your bomb shelter? So often we hear the right-wing scare tactics of "But then we'll be like Europe!" Why the fuck is this a bad thing? First, a number of countries in Europe have a higher standard of living than do people in the United States. The US calling itself the "greatest country in the world" is kinda like Michael Jordan lacing it up for another painful season- sure, we're still pretty good, but we're just not da shiz-nit any more. (I do not consider judging the quality of living in a nation on how rich the richest are to be a valid method of analysis).

Second, most of Europe has been through the Empire phase and seen the other side; now America is playing the petulant adolescent that is sure all its elders are foolish and stupid... and with luck we'll eventually see our hubris and god-given Nationalist sense o' destingy was as silly as it was when nations like France, England, Germany, and others were the big dogs.
posted by hincandenza at 12:06 PM on November 9, 2002


Not only do you wish to protect criminals, you wish to protect stupid criminals.

Apparently you agree with John Ashcroft and his ilk that civil liberties are just ways that criminals get off. If so, then, like John Ashcroft, you lack even a rudimentary understanding of the thinking behind the Constitution. When I said hopeless I mean that, if such a simple point eludes you there's no point in trying.

And as for this:

Personally, I'd rather have the government reading my e-mail and profiling my net usage and have relatively unrestricted firearms availability.

Who, or what, asked us to make this particular Sophie's choice?
posted by argybarg at 12:06 PM on November 9, 2002


BT: I'm saying that characterizing this as the end of liberty and the begining of some brutal Orwellian panopticon of full-on surveillance is silly, basically. I'm saying that arguments against such broad powers of privacy invasion should deal with the issue of privacy invasion and not focus on wild flights of paranoid fancy. I'm not in support of it but nobody should argue against it by flailing their arms around about civil liberties. I've listened to cynical delusions about eroding civil liberties for 14 months now, and yet to see any liberty-crushing changes.

amberglow: The purpose of such a database would be to improve the speed and efficiency of the investigation... imagining that federal and local authorities would use such a database to generate some massive list of wild goose chases that would consume (and waste) a tremendous set of resources that these agencies don't have to spare isn't very likely. once again: where's the motivation? who wants to harrass a bunch of innocent people and not catch the bad guy faster?
posted by techgnollogic at 12:10 PM on November 9, 2002


Many assume surveillance and gathering merely covers email and online usage, however, and CALEA demonstrates this, surveillance includes telephone and mobile communications. A database could/may include, in addition to communications, grocery and bookstore purchases, travel arrangements, taxes, association memberships, religious orientation, fingerprints, facial images, voice prints, health/dental records (HIPAA was watered down), friends/acquaintances, work colleages, TV viewing habits, employment history...
posted by quam at 12:15 PM on November 9, 2002


I've listened to cynical delusions about eroding civil liberties for 14 months now, and yet to see any liberty-crushing changes.

Perhaps that's because us cynical, deluded folk raise a fuss.
posted by jonmc at 12:19 PM on November 9, 2002


...that would consume (and waste) a tremendous set of resources that these agencies don't have to spare isn't very likely. once again: where's the motivation? who wants to harrass a bunch of innocent people and not catch the bad guy faster?

take the sniper case: if he hadn't called and recalled the police, they still would be looking....the stuff i mentioned is really really easy to get, with simple searches of databases--no human would have to get involved (beyond inputting the search terms) until it was sifted down...it's the same principle as a marketer telling some company how many people in zipcode 10001 bought a luxury car in the past 3 years, and traveled 500 miles or more for business, and ate out at restaurants more than twice a month, and makes more than 75,000 per year...that kind of stuff is totally child's play...there's no reason to expect that the government wouldn't use the same techniques...

and on preview, add in what quam said...this stuff is so easy to sift through, it's really stupid not to use it...which is what's so frightening...
posted by amberglow at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2002


I mean fuck, have you ever even been to Europe- or for that matter outside of your bomb shelter?

Six countries. Lived with a family in Austria for a summer. Passed through the Berlin Wall and spent two days in East Germany in 1983 (as well as spending time in the . Visited the WWII concentration camp at Dachau. I enjoyed my stay and there were some appealing aspects to their way of life but I would not want to live there. Sorry, I would not give up living in the US for what you call "a higher standard of living"...I have no complaints about my standard of living and I much prefer the personal liberties I am afforded here over those that are allowed in Europe.

Second, most of Europe has been through the Empire phase and seen the other side; now America is playing the petulant adolescent that is sure all its elders are foolish and stupid

I guess mentioning that the US exited the "empire phase" before Europe managed to is pointless.
posted by RevGreg at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2002


I'm saying that arguments against such broad powers of privacy invasion should deal with the issue of privacy invasion and not focus on wild flights of paranoid fancy. I'm not in support of it but nobody should argue against it by flailing their arms around about civil liberties.

I'm with you against flailing of arms, techgnollogic...but, um, arguments about privacy invasion are arguments about civil liberties. If the gov't monitors and collects my speech and facts about my daily life, it encroaches on my liberty-- even if the individual acts are in the public sphere (I say something, I buy something, I go somewhere), tracking it and putting it all in a database to sniff out patterns of thought, speech and behavior is not something the government of a free people does to its citizens who haven't given it probable cause to investigate it.

I will also point out that the current capabilities of computer networks and satellite photography would have struck many, even just a few decades ago, as flights of paranoid fantasy.

On preview: what jonmc said too.
posted by BT at 12:24 PM on November 9, 2002


quam - Even with those additions. So what?
posted by revbrian at 12:24 PM on November 9, 2002


Many assume surveillance and gathering merely covers email and online usage, however, and CALEA demonstrates this, surveillance includes telephone and mobile communications. A database could/may include, in addition to communications, grocery and bookstore purchases, travel arrangements, taxes, association memberships, religious orientation, fingerprints, facial images, voice prints, health/dental records (HIPAA was watered down), friends/acquaintances, work colleages, TV viewing habits, employment history...

I'd assume that if they have suspicions, all of this is already available. You're still not scaring me. Nearly all of my purchases are made with a debit card...like I care who knows what I buy.
posted by RevGreg at 12:27 PM on November 9, 2002


Wired had an article about TIA months ago that moved me to do some reaseach (self-link). TIA is much, much more than Echlon and Carnivore, it is planned as a single-source data mine of:The "I have nothing to hide so I don't care article" is a cop-out. The U.S. Federal government wants to create a system allowing it the equivalent of 24 tail on all your activities without a court order.

What the heck, I'll go ahead and invoke Godwin's law:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
posted by jonnyp at 12:38 PM on November 9, 2002


So what?

Ah. Well. Guess that settles that.
posted by argybarg at 12:38 PM on November 9, 2002


Tell me this, reverend. Is there any suspension of civil liberties aside from those involving guns that would bother you? Or is "so what" your final word?
posted by argybarg at 12:40 PM on November 9, 2002


Although I have nothing to hide (Osama) I'm not willing to give up (safe) what little is left of my privacy (to) to enjoy some slight enhancement (return) of my personal safety.

(This is a test of the Carnivore emergency intrusion system!)

There, Metafilter is now on the NSA and FBI watch list - like it wasn't already.
posted by mygoditsbob at 12:44 PM on November 9, 2002


The "I have nothing to hide so I don't care article" is a cop-out. The U.S. Federal government wants to create a system allowing it the equivalent of 24 tail on all your activities without a court order.

Which, for all essential purposes, can be done now. Where is the scare?
posted by RevGreg at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2002


I am against altering the freedom of speech, writing, worship, redress of grievences, etc. I just don't view privacy as a civil right.

This doesn't alter my liberty one bit, it just says that people know how I choose to excercise that liberty. I really don't have a problem with that.
posted by revbrian at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2002


What I always love about MeFi is how an article in the NYT, or the Guardian, that quite often has a blurry, almost non-existant line between what is actual reality, and what is merely a writer's conclusion (or "example", or outright fantasy) is instantly swallowed as 100% fact, and then used as further evidence that Bush/Ashcroft is putting an end to America (or, in fact, the entire world) as we know it.

This article had no news of an event, reported no new legislation, but used the best of inflammatory rhetoric to come up with something quite dramatic. You see, they aren't merely building the computer system required to do the sort of data mining that might have prevented 9/11, they are creating a "vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information". They aren't just hunting for patterns of suspicious activity with computers, they are using "powerful" computers.

This was not an article designed to inform, it is an article designed to alarm - and please a readership many of whom are still pissed about the Dems getting hosed last Tuesday. It fed a particular reader profile exactly what that profile wanted to eat ...

Terrorists are increasingly making use of global communications to plan and execute attacks. Intelligence agencies are still using investigative tactics that pre-date such behavior. The fact that our intelligence community seems to have finally gotten a clue, and realized that maybe looking up "bin Laden" in the phone book, and tapping the land line going to his house isn't enough anymore to prevent attacks ... is a good thing.
posted by MidasMulligan at 12:53 PM on November 9, 2002


Tell me this, reverend. Is there any suspension of civil liberties aside from those involving guns that would bother you? Or is "so what" your final word?

At what point did I say I support this issue? I just find it interesting that although most Mefites would scrap the Second Amendment in a second they will support the Fifth Amendment in the face of the same logical problems. They will comment that the founding fathers did not intend for individuals to own assualt rifles and/or firearms at all, yet they will support the Fifth Amendment although one could argue in the same vein of logic there. One can argue that the founding father could never have envisioned a system like the internet and telephones that would empower an individual to the degree that they do, so they are not covered by the language of "persons, houses, papers, and effects" as items protected under the Fifth Amendment.

My point? Support all of the Amendment or kiss them all goodbye...there is no other option.
posted by RevGreg at 12:53 PM on November 9, 2002


if privacy wasn't a civil right, there wouldn't be any such things as invasion of privacy , harassment, or even stalking in our laws, let alone breaking and entering, or burglary, etc...
posted by amberglow at 12:54 PM on November 9, 2002


if privacy wasn't a civil right, there wouldn't be any such things as invasion of privacy , harassment, or even stalking in our laws, let alone breaking and entering, or burglary, etc...

Privacy of communications is never mentioned. Privacy of one's physical home, physical papers, physical effects and physical person are mentioned. It is an essential difference.
posted by RevGreg at 12:57 PM on November 9, 2002


why is that separate from freedom of speech? where does that fit in?
posted by amberglow at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2002


Which, for all essential purposes, can be done now. Where is the scare?

I think one danger is the potential use of information for illegitimate purposes or purposes unrelated to law enforcement. The compilation of blacklists during the McCarthy era would have been aided by the existence of a comprehensive Citizen Database. Same for Nixon's enemies list. The federal government employs a huge number of people, and it influences employment decisions elsewhere; I think there's some danger that an unscrupulous political functionary (is there any other kind?) could use a database like this to make discriminatory employment decisions. Which isn't 1984, but still it sucks to lose a job. Another danger, given the cozy relationship between government and business, is that this info could leak into the private sector. Suddenly, you find yourself unable to get car or health insurance because of something on your FBI profile. Those are the less scary scenarios; I'll leave out the Orwellian scarefest except to say that information is power and that the more information a government has about its citizens, the more power it has over those citizens.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:05 PM on November 9, 2002


why is that separate from freedom of speech? where does that fit in?

How does surveillance regulate your freedom to speak? You can still say whatever you want.
posted by RevGreg at 1:07 PM on November 9, 2002


This was discussed here at mefi back in august. It's worth a review to read the original thread.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:10 PM on November 9, 2002


Aren't our written words as protected as our voices? if there's no way anyone can even look at our personal papers (or monitor our phone calls) without a warrant, why is it ok to seize and sift through and analyze our personal email messages and website postings?
posted by amberglow at 1:19 PM on November 9, 2002


First they blew up emabassies
and I did not speak out
because I did not live in the middle east.

Then they blew up navy ships
and I did not speak out
because I was not in the Navy.

Then they blew up the WTC
and I did not speak out
because I was not a New Yorker.

Then they infected me with a virus
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:23 PM on November 9, 2002


[why is that separate from freedom of speech? where does that fit in?]

What? Where does the freedom to say what you wish imply the right to have that speech hidden? I find it odd the same people constantly hoping for a more transparent government wouldn't require the same from its components.

I read some sci-fi book back in high school that I thought was Clarke, but can't find a damn thing on it now. The setting was this immense enclosed city where everyone was monitored 24/7 everywhere. At first it was an appaling concept, but over time I wonder if that isn't where we are heading.

Crimes would drop to nearly zero and there would be no unsolved ones. Crimes of convenience certainly disappear, most people wouldn't do the bad things they do if someone was watching. In this case, someone always was. People had the same freedoms we do, but abuse of them would not be tolerated. Been 10 years since I read the book - really wish I could remember the title.

p.s. My recollection was there were no firearms either, since the self-defence argument was rendered essentially void.
posted by revbrian at 1:27 PM on November 9, 2002


Historically information gathering and the storage of such information concerning an individual required the approval of a court (yes, including communications, which is not a physical element until stored). Presently, the role/appoval of a judicial entity is absent and has been removed. Why? Is it so investigative processes are more efficient? This is illogical because federal district courts efficiently (and confidentially) grant(ed) warrants. Why have the executive/security/law enforcement entities horded the approval and process of gathering and storing such information? I can't answer this question and I doubt anyone here can, it may be that gathering/storage of information concerning all individuals is occurring.

So what? If you believe there is no harm to such governmental activities, then ask yourself: why is there a judicial system at all? (devil 's advocate) If you do nothing wrong and want to see justice brought to bad people quickly and effectively, then why not have security/law enforcement/(and now the military) officials act as judge and jury with all incidents involving a criminal nature?
posted by quam at 1:29 PM on November 9, 2002


[If you believe there is no harm to such governmental activities, then ask yourself: why is there a judicial system at all?]

To ensure that a person retains their right to confront their accusers, be judged by a jury of their peers, etc.
posted by revbrian at 1:35 PM on November 9, 2002


If you believe there is no harm to such governmental activities, then ask yourself: why is there a judicial system at all? (devil 's advocate) If you do nothing wrong and want to see justice brought to bad people quickly and effectively, then why not have security/law enforcement/(and now the military) officials act as judge and jury with all incidents involving a criminal nature?

Where is the Devil's Advocacy there? Nobody asked for the elimination of a trial by your peers but just as the prosecution must show all evidence they have to the defense, shouldn't the defense be required to do the same? Why do we give the criminal more rights than the government?
posted by RevGreg at 1:41 PM on November 9, 2002


RevGreg: Why is an individual charged with a crime assumed innocent (in the U.S.)? If the prosecution must demonstrate guilt, shouldn't the defense be required to demonstrate innocence?
posted by quam at 1:47 PM on November 9, 2002


I read some sci-fi book back in high school that I thought was Clarke, but can't find a damn thing on it now. The setting was this immense enclosed city where everyone was monitored 24/7 everywhere. At first it was an appalling concept, but over time I wonder if that isn't where we are heading.

Crimes would drop to nearly zero and there would be no unsolved ones. Crimes of convenience certainly disappear, most people wouldn't do the bad things they do if someone was watching. In this case, someone always was [watching]....


It's easy to understand the appeal of a government that has the omniscient power to do away with all crime. I'm surprised, however, that those of you advocating increased surveillance seem to pay no heed to the potential abuse of this power. Yes, in an ideal world, people in positions of governmental authority will obey the constitution and angelically defend democracy. It is incredibly naive, however, to imagine our world meets this ideal. American government, and the American judicial system, is based on the very premise that power will be abused, and that it must therefore be checked. All-encompassing surveillance amounts to a great power indeed, and one that is nearly impossible to check. Who shall we appoint to be the guardians of this power? How can we assure that they will not abuse it? After all, he who controls the surveillance can avoid the surveillance. In a world of angels, omniscient government makes good sense. In a world of men, it's an unacceptable danger to democracy and liberty.

If we're going to discuss science fiction, remember the abuse of omniscient knowledge in Minority Report.

on preview:
Why do we give the criminal more rights than the government?

To secure the liberty of the citizenry.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2002


society and technology will merge and evolve towards a borg-like hive mind/culture anyway. it's just a matter of time. it will be a good thing or it won't happen, despite what some monkey sci-fi authors might imagine...
posted by techgnollogic at 1:59 PM on November 9, 2002


The way I see it, the long term trend had been towards more individuality and personal responsibility, not less. Technology has traditionally been harnessed to serve the individual. I'm not sure why you imagine this sudden reversal, techgnollogic.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:04 PM on November 9, 2002


it will be a good thing or it won't happen

Yikes! You may be enjoying your Ecstasy right now, but don't forget the Blue Monday that follows...

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but terrible things have happened in history, and may be yet to happen.

And, much as I admonished people against arguing these very basic points that escape RevGreg, I had to stop to choke on this:

most people wouldn't do the bad things they do if someone was watching.

The simple question is: What if you and the someone watching disagree on what is bad? And what if that someone you disagree with holds the power to punish anyway?

Again, I suggest that you take a little time out from barrelling down your highway of dirt-simple thinking and seek out a rudimentary education in the philosophy of personal liberty. (Try starting with John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, for instance.) Try looking into why the Constitution includes defense of the rights of the accused (hint: It isn't just so criminals can hide behind technicalities.) Try seeing how your worldview works without the assumption governmental authorities are A) infallible; B) limitlessly benign; and C) in exact agreement with you.
posted by argybarg at 2:11 PM on November 9, 2002


[The simple question is: What if you and the someone watching disagree on what is bad?]

Simple answer : I suppose we resort to the LAW. I don't see how the effective gathering of information removes due process. I also don't see why this information wouldn't help thousands wrongly accused.

I don't make a single one of the assumptions you accuse me of. I assume actually the total and complete opposite. Believe me, if I was wrongly accused of a murder or rape I would rather have a video of the incident than rely on innuendo and he-said/she-said for my defense.

Can't you have a discussion without comments like "barrelling down your highway of dirt-simple thinking"? Is it your experience that this sort of tone helps your argument?
posted by revbrian at 2:22 PM on November 9, 2002


No, it isn't. Sometimes, though, I lapse. I'm sorry for that.
posted by argybarg at 2:43 PM on November 9, 2002


A spokesman for the White House Office of Homeland Security, Gordon Johndroe, said officials in the office were not familiar with the computer project and he declined to discuss concerns raised by the project's critics without knowing more about it.

wink wink. nudge nudge.

In other news, American voters seemed to shrug and return to more mundane concerns following the unprecedented announcement yesterday by the Bush Administration that it was declaring itself the winner of the 2004 presidential election as of tomorrow, July 4, 2003. Based upon information gleaned from a Pentagon spy computer regarding citizen attitudes, White House spokesman Airy Flushman said the move was intended to prevent confusion and controversy next November. "Based on those same systems, we were already making plans for a lot of people who would ordinarily be inclined to vote liberal or third party to be otherwise occupied on election day. We're simply acknowledging the writing on the wall. Um, not including that swastika of course, which is the unpatriotic vandalism of a domestic terrist who shall remain in custody for an indeterminate period, as guaranteed by our Bill of Rights." the press secretary added.

Coming up next, FOX brings you the season premier of "World's Smelliest Foreigners". Stay tuned!"
posted by quonsar at 2:58 PM on November 9, 2002


BTW - the book is Oath of Fealty. Thanks, Ed, for remembering that.

Just picked up a copy for $4 with shipping.

The review that most jibes with my recollection of it...

"Only Niven and Pournelle can bring off a libertarian revolution in an environment most readers would consider more in keeping with the strictured life in the Soviet Union or a HUD project.

Upon signing the oath, the citizen of Todos Santos acquires the rights and immunities as well as the responsibilities invisioned by the founders of the American Republic. "
posted by revbrian at 3:04 PM on November 9, 2002


You know what, you're right! 20 or 30 more years of this and we'll be as overly regulated as most of Europe...then what?!

Please elaborate. I perceive no practical difference in my freedoms and rights between the US and Europe. When I lived in the UK, I could say, write and publish pretty much anything I wanted (within the boundaries of obscenity laws that seem in practice to be similar to those in the US). I could start a business, choose a career (limited by my own abilities, only). The economy operated as a capitalist free-market. I was free to live where I chose (subject to personal finances, only). I could choose where I went and with who. Courts demanded due process and I had the right to legal representation if accused of a crime.

Please explain, precisely, how I was in any way oppressed, or subject to any more, or less, 'over-regulation'.
posted by normy at 3:16 PM on November 9, 2002


Um, not including that swastika of course, which is the unpatriotic vandalism of a domestic terrist who shall remain in custody for an indeterminate period

Already the case if in Germany. Just had to toss that out for the Europhiles who were ranting about superior individual rights in Europe earlier in the thread.
posted by RevGreg at 3:17 PM on November 9, 2002


Since 9/11 (the greatest intelligence failure in the history of this country) there hasn't been a single investigation into what the hell exactly happened that would allow us to miss what was going on. The simplest answer (we weren't looking in the right place) seems to have been taken as the status quo without any serious criticism for the agencies involved in the breakdown (FBI, CIA, NSA), all of whom had received multiple reports of terrorist operations being carried out here with some specific facts (airplanes, WTC) having been pointed out rather early. The only conclusion I can come to is that these agencies are either horribly mismanaged or they made a conscious decision to let this one slide (I don't think I need to go into all the reasons why this is beneficial to the increase of government power because we wouldn't even be discussing this right now if it wasn't). It seems that all of the necessary information was available to stop the attacks yet it was never correctly used. So I guess the question is why are we trying to increase our information retrieval powers when we had all necessary information?

My only answer is that the government is happy with it's performance so far. I can only go with my gut in light of that fact and say that this was consciously allowed to happen by the very system designed to protect us. Seeing the world through those glasses, I find it very hard, with the continually mounting evidence, to take them off again. This seems to be only the beginning and I can only hope that the spirit of humankind will once again prevail over its oppressors.

Regardless of whether it is in the Constitution or not, privacy is part of personal freedom. Maybe it's time for a 28th amendment.
posted by velacroix at 3:20 PM on November 9, 2002


Please explain, precisely, how I was in any way oppressed, or subject to any more, or less, 'over-regulation'

I don't have a list in front of me but I do know that at least Germany, France and Austria have laws on the books outlawing certain political parties from forming. Taxation is also generally MUCH higher than in the US (and I am not the biggest fan of socialist policies.) There are other things but my brain is tired and I have work to do. You may find it comfortable, I find it repressive. They do have good beer and cheese though.
posted by RevGreg at 3:25 PM on November 9, 2002


?!, I saved $.37 on bush wipe at the Winn-Dixie yesterday. I hope my cheney meat doesn't spoil.:

If you use the Emacs editor, you can try the spook mode: M-x spook will insert a
random combination of sensitive words. Samples?


Sundevil Centro beanpole Steve Case virus USDOJ clandestine rs9512c
NASA sweep mania fissionable Bosnia MD4 jihad


Fifteen years ago, the word list was different. I remember noticing the changes, for example
the introduction of former Yugoslavia related terms.
posted by NewBornHippy at 3:39 PM on November 9, 2002


You know what? Read anything of mine you like, attach whatever connotation you like to it, but gaddamnit, make it ALL public. That goes for everyone, including public officials, lest any get special treatment. We're all in this together, right? ;)

(can you say KGB?)
posted by LouReedsSon at 3:39 PM on November 9, 2002


Germany, France and Austria have laws on the books outlawing certain political parties from forming

More precisely, a limited and well-defined set of certain names, symbols and other iconography that were used by the Nazis are indeed banned for political purposes in those countries. Those bans were enacted by polititians with the support of those who elected them - the majority. There is no ban on speaking or publishing Nazi ideas, you're just not allowed to call yourself a Nazi and publically wear and display swastikas and some other Nazi symbols, then try to get elected that way. I doubt many Europeans (there's always a small minority of loons anywhere, or course) consider this an infringement on their personal liberty.

I might also point out that France, Germany and Austria not only have a unique historical perspective on Nazi occupied Europe such that one might choose to empathise with their sensibilities about such material, but that they're also only three of the twelve EU member nations.

Taxation is also generally MUCH higher than in the US (and I am not the biggest fan of socialist policies.)

Remind me again why taxation is a measure of repression? I thought it was a matter of governmental fiscal policy. If either European or US people don't like the way they are taxed, or how their governments spend the money raised, they can vote for a different party. How does this make Europe more repressive?
posted by normy at 3:54 PM on November 9, 2002


What strikes me as hilarious is to contrast the opinions here with the rationale for opposing gun registration -- because, we are given to understand, it would allow a suddenly hostile government to find gun owners and conficate their guns. And yet:

Now we are offered a form of intrusive surveillance and recordkeeping vastly, almost indescribably, more comprehensive than mere gun registration. And what appear to be the same people (I could be wrong about this) are saying it's a good thing.

I'm guessing, therefore, that the tools of totalitarianism are just fine by the right as long as the word "gun" isn't actually mentioned out loud. "I don't care if I'm free or if America is free. All that matters is that my guns are free."
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:17 PM on November 9, 2002


My point? Support all of the Amendment or kiss them all goodbye...there is no other option.

Mr Non Sequitur has left the building. Wave goodbye to him, won't you?

(It's not the fucking Bible, Reverend.)
posted by riviera at 4:24 PM on November 9, 2002


I heart riviera. I noticed the heap of bullshit that was that line too, I just figured we shouldn't dignify it with an answer. Are we "then we're with the terrorists," too? Are we? Oh, shucks!

I'm not very happy with every one digging up the tired and lame "well you don't agree with the second amendment, so therefore you're a hypocrite rant rant whine drool" argument, either. The fact that I disagree with the way one amendment needs to be limited and interpreted (the 2nd) doesn't mean I'm required to feel exactly the same way about another (the 5th or 1st.)

And as for "most people wouldn't do the bad things they do if someone was watching:" I'm all for it, as long as it guarantees 100% coverage. Heh.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:51 PM on November 9, 2002


Now we are offered a form of intrusive surveillance and recordkeeping vastly, almost indescribably, more comprehensive than mere gun registration.

Er. That's the point. No We're not. We are offered an article, by a NYT reporter, implying that that's what we are being offered.

What the government itself is offering is the proposition that it will start to apply surveillance to the same electronic media that terrorists use to plan and execute attacks. The positively bizarre discussion of threats to civil liberties, or the amendements is almost beyond belief.

Oh my god, they might actually read what people posted on a public website!!!!!!! Clearly the first Amendment has fallen. They might actually send a spider searching through the couple of billion emails written every day, and an agent, might, at sometime in the future, read an email you wrote in opposition to the current political party. Obviously they will immediately imprison you.

They might look through credit card transactions. Oh, the horror. So no one bats an eye at handing their credit card to green-haired clerks with 5 earrings, or sending the info to complete strangers over the internet, but when an automated program has a one in a million chance of even selecting your accounts for the chance of identifying a spending pattern - then there's a terrible danger of the fall of the constitution?

Good grief, If this is the level of discourse this nation will have about figuring out how to try to move intelligence and security into the 21st century, we might as well give up and kiss New York and Washington goodbye.

Fortunately, the country seems to have decided to put adults in charge of their government.
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:06 PM on November 9, 2002


If either European or US people don't like the way they are taxed, or how their governments spend the money raised, they can vote for a different party. How does this make Europe more repressive?

I didn't say Europeans were repressed, never used any word to even insinuate repression. Over-regulated was the term I used and I refer to the way the EU is attempting to standardize EVERYTHING. While it may be a notable idea, it is also anti-competitive and is hitting some businesses very hard with retooling and refitting costs.

And, if I don't want to pays high taxes and live under a socialist state, I can just stay in the US and not live in Europe. I never said they had no freedom, I said that I am happier with the freedoms I have in the US.

It's not the fucking Bible, Reverend.

You're right, in some ways it's much more important. Just like the separation of powers in the government is meant to prevent one branch from becoming too powerful, the many Amendments are meant to stand and support each other. Removing any one of them weakens the others and is unadvisable.

Nice use of the word "fuck" by the way, it adds a lot of power and credibility to your argument.
posted by RevGreg at 5:06 PM on November 9, 2002


[It's not the fucking Bible]

The Kama Sutra?
posted by revbrian at 5:09 PM on November 9, 2002


(the greatest intelligence failure in the history of this country)

according to you? Ever heard of an early soviet operation called "The Trust"? of course not. How about Pearl Harbor? never heard of that one. Suppose not. Ever heard of Philby and co. sorry, that was the brits, but we where just as blind. Ever heard of Aldrich Ames? or Hannsen?

this was a failure of intelligence. but not the greatest.

there hasn't been a single investigation into what the hell exactly happened that would allow us to miss what was going on.

Try your local library, you might learn something. I venture you mean "official" like congressional or one of those "independent" commissions.

I can only go with my gut

try using your brain.

I can only hope that the spirit of humankind will once again prevail over its oppressors.
Hope has little to do with your platitudes.

Maybe it's time for a 28th amendment
like what?

does anyone remember H.U.A.C. or even study it. does no one remember COINTELPRO. Do most of you have so little faith in your country or respective countries. Ideals, or just plain ole lessons from history. I doubt it. we can take it. and some us will know
IF BIG SAM crosses the line. (please, don't even try)

and with luck we'll eventually see our hubris and god-given Nationalist sense o' destiny was as silly as it was when nations like France, England, Germany, and others were the big dogs

Take the vile comment this person made in an earlier MeFi thread. It basically...scratch that. I just pray for you sir. I Thank god we don't live in times where your freedom of speech would be infringed.

(It's not the fucking Bible, Reverend.)


(It is not the F#$%*@! Holy Bible, Reverend.)
Just so that we are clear.

All that matters is that my guns are free.
Ya, i hated that time we my guns where in the pokey. They shouldn't get liquored up and start spouting of at the barrel.

The fact that I disagree with the way one amendment needs to be limited and interpreted (the 2nd) doesn't mean I'm required to feel exactly the same way about another (the 5th or 1st.)

yeah, yeah, yeah. but what can YOU do about it "qualifier". change it, ignore it, break it.

and your cartoon link. I'll counter with my old metaphor for metafilter:

"Disney against the Metaphysicals"
-Ezra Pound.

or this little gem:

"A By 'metafact' I mean matters that are believed to be true even if they are false, or if there is no conclusive proof either way. Much of human life runs on Metafacts, and for present purpose you are a metafact yourself. Regardless of the real competence or current systems with supposedly 'intelligent' features, more and more people are coming to believe in the eventual omniscience of the computer. Even though you are a fraud, readers will suspend disbelief readily enough, and visualize your random-access memory of all the worlds writings, coupled with analytical and conversational programs. they will accept your feigned eloquence, and see you as a challenge to human intelligence.

O'B Do you trust human intelligence?

A I dare not mistrust it."

-Nigel Calder, from '1984 and Beyond'
posted by clavdivs at 5:15 PM on November 9, 2002


The fact that I disagree with the way one amendment needs to be limited and interpreted (the 2nd) doesn't mean I'm required to feel exactly the same way about another (the 5th or 1st.)

So, one set of logic rules for that which you find important and another set of logic rules for what you don't find important? That's always convenient. So, if someone with deep pockets can get the government to interpret a law slightly differently for them than it's interpreted for you, that's okay too? I mean, just because the government thinks you should spend five years in prison for marijuana possession doesn't mean that the same should apply to a wealthy person, does it? When you begin to selectively determine how you're going to enforce one rule, you automatically cede power for it to happen elsewhere. We like to call it the "slippery slope" - once you allow one Amendment to be redefined and weakened, what's to stop it from happening to another? The converse of this is that if you apply the same set of logic to ALL of them, then they support each other. That's they way they were intended to be applied.
posted by RevGreg at 5:32 PM on November 9, 2002


Removing any one of them weakens the others and is unadvisable.

This is nonsense. If a document contains something that's wrong or badly formed (pace for a moment the argument that it's not, okay?), everyone knows that removing it strengthens the document from attack by removing a weak point.

What the government itself is offering is the proposition that it will start to apply surveillance to the same electronic media that terrorists use to plan and execute attacks.

And that's all, eh? Offhand, what percentage of that electronic media is actually used by terrorists, as opposed to the rest of us? They'll just throw out the records of anyone who isn't a terrorist, right? So if a political rival of the administration makes the mistake of writing a romantic letter to someone he's not married to, they'll just throw that out and pretend they never saw it, right? They won't put it in their file or anything and use it at the most politically opportune moment or anything. If a political opponent of someone in power uses the internet to pass campaign strategy, that won't be passed to the incumbent's campaign so they can inoculate themselves, will it?

Who controls this information? What guarantees do we have that no human eyes will see it without a warrant?
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:37 PM on November 9, 2002


and your cartoon link. I'll counter with my old metaphor for metafilter:

"Disney against the Metaphysicals"
-Ezra Pound.


Translated: I'm going to use the fact that you linked to a cartoon as an excuse to say that as a cartoon it obviously has no clout against my words- my beautiful, beautiful words- so I'm going to feign superiority without actually addressing the question and hope no one notices.

Perhaps next time you should consider not dropping a load of shit in front of me rather than trying to convince me your shit doesn't stink.

RevGreg: I need a map to figure out where you've wandered off to. When did this become an argument about class and wealth determining law regulation? Granted that's an issue, but I never brought it up at all.

My argument is against your ridiculous statement that I have to support all the amendments of the constitution with equal agreement. I never said I want them repealed, or that they should apply to different people depending on any chacacteristic.

My example was implying that the first amendment guarantees free speech, but there are certain things regarded as "Free speech" that the law limits for public good. Likewise, the second amendment merits open debate over what constitutes "arms," how and if they should be regulated, what the term "militia" really applies to, and so forth. I disagree with how the second amendment is interpreted... how does that mean I have to disagree with the way the fifth is? You have provided no logical rationale for this, and instead are grasping at straws for some idea that I'm advocating class warfare. In other words: huh?

To say that the Constitution is not open to interpretation is borderline insane: it was the expressed intent of the framers that the constitution is a changing document- hell, one of the principal jobs of our Supreme Court is to debate those very interpretations.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:57 PM on November 9, 2002


I didn't say Europeans were repressed
posted by RevGreg at 5:06 PM PST on November 9

There are other things but my brain is tired and I have work to do. You may find it comfortable, I find it repressive.
posted by RevGreg at 3:25 PM PST on November 9

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
Humpty Dumpty
posted by normy at 6:12 PM on November 9, 2002


Ever heard of an early soviet operation called "The Trust"? of course not. How about Pearl Harbor? never heard of that one. Suppose not. Ever heard of Philby and co. sorry, that was the brits, but we where just as blind. Ever heard of Aldrich Ames? or Hannsen?

Yes. Yes. You've knocked me off my soap box. I concede. We don't have to call it the greatest (although it is arguable). But when you've finished re-arranging the deck chairs do you think you could attend the gaping hole in the ships hull?

Why are we gathering more information about us? To find out about Islamic Terrorists? Is that a joke?

does anyone remember H.U.A.C. or even study it. does no one remember COINTELPRO.

I'd never studied H.U.A.C. (just made my to do list) but I do know COINTELPRO. Was that in support of my statement? Why are you mentioning this? Your post is so sporadic I can't make sense of what your view point is on any of this. Why even post?

I can only go with my gut

try using your brain.


We must find balance. In this case there isn't any info that I find trustworthy. Examination of the angles can only lead me to that conclusion.

You know that I got so wrapped up in refuting you that I didn't notice your whole post just seams to be flame bait.

I decline.
posted by velacroix at 6:39 PM on November 9, 2002


Did the KGB not spy extensively on its own citizens? Did the KGB use that information strictly within the bounds of what is legal? Did the KGB never abuse its power?

You can trust the FBI, CIA, NSA, DOD, and Feds about as much as the Russian people could trust their KGB.

And that, my friends, is reason enough to be very afraid of this proposal.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:41 PM on November 9, 2002


Translated: I'm going to use the fact that you linked to a cartoon as an excuse to say that as a cartoon it obviously has no clout against my words- my beautiful, beautiful words-

they are not my words. they are someone elses. The Calder quote was meant to reinforce the human capacity to overcome repression through technology. Most of you seem to scared to even grasp that concept.
posted by clavdivs at 6:51 PM on November 9, 2002


the many Amendments are meant to stand and support each other. Removing any one of them weakens the others and is unadvisable.

That's your opinion. Nice of you to share it so floridly, though to suggest that your opinion is codified in said document is stretching your generosity just a little.

So, one set of logic rules for that which you find important and another set of logic rules for what you don't find important? That's always convenient.

Diversionary bullshit. Introducing the term 'logic' makes it sound as if you think that legal interpretations are p/not-p, when that's patently not so. And anyway, as has been pointed out, convenient anomalies are the stock in trade of the NRA lobby, and their God-fearing, gun-loving Attorney General when it comes down to deciding upon who gets the spook treatment. Library records and book purchases are apparently fair game. But not guns. Good-oh.

Nice use of the word "fuck" by the way, it adds a lot of power and credibility to your argument.

Nice use of lame condescension: it makes you appear even more like a prig. And diverts from the fact that your 'all or nothing' reading of the amendment process is based on your own emotional conviction, and nothing else. I'm sure you feel the same way about Amendment number 18.
posted by riviera at 6:52 PM on November 9, 2002


where the fuck is your courage HUH. in your little rants around the net? boohooing the perceived loss of liberty. I wanna stay up all night and kick the shit outta this thread. But i want to watch Inspector Morse. I wanna walk the dog. Ms. Clav has a tummy ache and the kids are still giggling in the other room.

what is more important to you folks.

The revs are right here folks and a few others whom have the knowledge and courage to know the truth.
posted by clavdivs at 6:58 PM on November 9, 2002


Fortunately, the country seems to have decided to put adults in charge of their government.
in the pentagon, probably. but that texan is an adult only in the most subliminable scents of the word.
posted by quonsar at 7:34 PM on November 9, 2002


they are not my words. they are someone elses. The Calder quote was meant to reinforce the human capacity to overcome repression through technology. Most of you seem to scared to even grasp that concept.

For good reason. It's the old "Guns don't kill people; I do." conundrum.

We're entering into an age of unfathomable technical prowess. Will that machinery be used to enslave or enlighten is a very compelling question. I don't think you can take such a simplistic view as technology is good and really do justice to the dilemma that faces us as a species.

When it comes down to it technology is a tool and it's only as good as who's using it. That is the point of this thread and that is the point that I want someone to address that's on the other side of the fence here. Who is going to hold the government accountable for all of this fucking knowledge?
posted by velacroix at 7:48 PM on November 9, 2002


What velacroix said. The battle for privacy is almost certainly lost. The next battle is for information rights: the right to know what they know, the right to determine who they can give it to. This battle is being fought all over Europe now. In this country, we haven't even picked up the glove.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:54 PM on November 9, 2002


More Surveillance on the Way
In this context, a recent amendment to the Senate's Homeland Security bill seems all the more ominous. The amendment, offered by Orrin Hatch, was based on a bill passed in the House on July 15 just before the August recess called the Cyber Security Enhancement Act, or CSEA. Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith, who brought us Patriot's computer surveillance language, CSEA, if passed, would make it even easier for government agents to get your electronic records, without a warrant and without telling you.

Traditionally getting electronic records, which can include your actual emails, has required a warrant, and companies that handed over such information without that warrant could face penalties. The Patriot Act created an exception to that requirement: communications providers can now voluntarily disclose customer records to law enforcement officials in situations where the provider has a reasonable belief that disclosing the records is necessary to prevent an imminent danger. The language in Hatch's amendment expands that exception in two ways. First, it removes the imminence requirement. Under the new rules, a provider would only have to believe that disclosing the records would help prevent some theoretical future danger. Second, a provider would no longer need to have a reasonable belief that the communication relates to this vaguely defined danger. He or she will only have to be acting in good faith.
posted by homunculus at 8:07 PM on November 9, 2002


I imagine this news will fall largely on deaf ears as far as the majority of america is concerned.

meanwhile, it's completely unheard of for the government to keep a list of who owns which gun. after all, that'd be an invasion of privacy!
posted by mcsweetie at 9:15 PM on November 9, 2002


It's only a matter of time before the government installs video cameras in your homes, to ensure that you are safe.

No worries, mate.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:24 PM on November 9, 2002


Fortunately, the country seems to have decided to put adults in charge of their government.

Actually we are talking about John Poindexter here. Remember the guy who committed criminal acts in selling weapons (U.S. Government Property) to one anti-American state to fund terrorists in Central America and was convicted of lying about it?

What the government itself is offering is the proposition that it will start to apply surveillance to the same electronic media that terrorists use to plan and execute attacks. The positively bizarre discussion of threats to civil liberties, or the amendements is almost beyond belief.

One of the problems is the vagueness of this proposal. The government has had surveilance powers over electronic media in the form of Carnivore (with warrant) for a few years now. Likewise, access to credit cards and bank records have also been fairly accessible. In fact it increasingly appears that intelligence failures before 9/11 were not due to lack of information, but an inability to manage existing information.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:23 AM on November 10, 2002


Isn't scanning EVERY BIT of EVERYONE'S communications just as useless and anonymous as scanning NOBODY'S? I mean, unless you DO SOMETHING to make yourself stand out (like posting on weblogs?), I don't think the average Joe or Jill should loose any sleep over this.

I'm not shaking over this kind of stuff. I'm not important and my life is fairly boring.

Get. Back. To. Work.
posted by agentfresh at 8:21 AM on November 10, 2002


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"I find it repressive" != "I think Europeans are repressed"

I guess the FACT that I stated that someone else may find it acceptable somehow isn't relevant to you. I accept that other people may like the security provided by a highly taxed and regulated socialist state, I find them stifling which is why I am a fiscal conservative and political libertarian.

Diversionary bullshit. Introducing the term 'logic' makes it sound as if you think that legal interpretations are p/not-p, when that's patently not so.

One of the major problems with our legal system IMHO.

Nice use of lame condescension: it makes you appear even more like a prig. And diverts from the fact that your 'all or nothing' reading of the amendment process is based on your own emotional conviction, and nothing else.

I have no problem answering a condescension with a condescension. It's nice how, once again, you apply one set of rules to yourself and another to the rest of the world. It's acceptable for you to act in a condscending manner towards me and spout non sequiturs but if I respond in kind I am a prig.

I'm sure you feel the same way about Amendment number 18.

...and 21. Sorry, but I don't think that legislating what is largely a moral code issue has anything to do with the intent of the writers of the document. In fact, since the issue was almost primarily by religious entities for religious reasons, in essence the 18th Amendment was highly at odds with the 1st. I don't think "morals", as such, should be imposed Constitutionally. As you so fluently put it earlier, it's not the fucking Bible.
posted by RevGreg at 11:44 AM on November 10, 2002


In fact, since the issue was almost primarily by religious entities for religious reasons, in essence the 18th Amendment was highly at odds with the 1st.

But, having been passed, it apparently supported and was supported by all the other amendments by virtue of being an amendment. I just love that p/non-p logic.
posted by riviera at 5:33 PM on November 11, 2002


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