Government admits spying on drug reform advocates.
March 18, 2002 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Government admits spying on drug reform advocates. Not to be snide, but why are these people even surprised? You can't even get photocopies made these days without being ratted out.
posted by tankboy (14 comments total)
The article describes the "spying" thusly:
According to a report issued by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in December 2001 and recently made available on the NDIC Web site, the government has been monitoring 52 Web sites in search of individuals and groups who use the Internet to "promote or facilitate the production, use, and sale of MDMA, GHB, and LSD."

That's right. They've been monitoring web sites! "Spying" is hardly the correct word to describe this. If you don't want the government to know what you're up to, you probably shouldn't publish it on the world wide web. Apparently, the authors of this article got this infomation from the NDIC web site. Does that mean they've been spying on the US government? Should they be arrested for espionage?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:29 PM on March 18, 2002

Regarding the photocopying issue, it's more than a minor point that this was OfficeMax, a chain office supply store, not the federal government. If you don't like OfficeMax's policy, don't photocopy your stuff there. It's not like the OfficeMax Police Department is going to hunt you down and throw you in the OfficeMax Penitentiary.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:12 PM on March 18, 2002

I didn't know it stood for "world wide". Man do you have any idea how hard its gonna be to stop those pictures from getting around??
posted by Settle at 2:36 PM on March 18, 2002

mr_roboto: the issue isn't that these people are trying to keep their actions secret. It's that they're trying to push a political agenda which the current administration opposes.

An inexact analogy would be to those FBI files kept on civil rights activists in the 60's. This case isn't as extreme -- but it's somewhere on the same spectrum.

Read the actual report, not the article. What I find most interesting is that at no point does the NDIC distinguish between sites which are promoting legal reform of drug laws and those which, in their words, "promote or facilitate the production, use, and sale of MDMA, GHB, and LSD". (The report doesn't list the sites that were examined, but it does note that more than half of them are "associated with drug legalization groups".)

It's an intriguing chain of logic, isn't it? Drugs are bad. Therefore people who disagree with the idea that drugs are bad, must be bad. Therefore, we will track them down, find out who they are and where they live, and find out who their friends are (see #3, #4, and #5 on this page). And we will watch them closely. Juuuuuust in case.
posted by ook at 2:45 PM on March 18, 2002

Ooh: almost forgot. Apparently these bad people putting drug information on the web are also anarchists, pedophiles, and believers in the first amendment. Shame on them.
posted by ook at 2:49 PM on March 18, 2002

I couldn't find a list of sites that they were monitoring.
Did anyone else find them ?
I'd sure be stoked if mine was on it.
posted by keithl at 3:01 PM on March 18, 2002

I didn't know about the OfficeMax I rarely need to photocopy anything...but I *did* buy other stuff there...keyword being did. I can, and will shop is software.

As to the National Drug Intelligence Center and their report...that's just spooky. This page tells you what criteria they used...or theoretically used. It's a pretty broad search spectrum...I'd like to know which 52 sites they settled on...and how they are differentiating between pro-legalization groups and ravers passing laced lollies.
posted by dejah420 at 3:04 PM on March 18, 2002

They're not. That's the problem.
posted by ook at 3:10 PM on March 18, 2002

I'm spying on Metafilter!
posted by thirteen at 3:26 PM on March 18, 2002

Sir Thomas MetaFilter III, to be precise.
posted by Danelope at 3:43 PM on March 18, 2002

Read the site - the biggest thing that occured to me is ... well ... "what blidingly stupid rookies did they hire?"

First off - did you get aload of that site? The NDIC is "the nation's principal center for strategic domestic counterdrug intelligence", and is incapable of producing a transparent gif of it's own logo that isn't chewed around the edges?

Look at the content - these bozos used Google, and manged to find 52 sites? 52 sites? Doesn't this strike anyone as being absolutely absurd? Shit o dear ... give me a freshman high school class in a computer lab, and all of an hour, and I'll bet half the damn class would have already arranged to purchase acid and MDMA, and found a half dozen local raves to hit that weekend.

These guys find 52 sites they visit periodically, and half the report is full of explanations of "secrets" like IP addresses and routers - good grief, it reads like a really bad 1st year exam from a vo-tech student studying "The Internet" through a mail order college.

That "Phase 2" section is really a trip. They're actually going to try to track the people and find out (gulp) where they live ... though this will be difficult because of the deviousness of those druggies (I imagine they practice deeply deceptive tactics like ... dialing up their ISP with a modem and getting a different IP address every time!!! Oh no!!! Damn them!!! But maybe they'll be able to track them to a router near their houses ...).

I don't think I'd worry too much folks. These guys can't even find the ticket booth for the clue train, let alone the damn station (though maybe they'll soon try that Yahoo thingy - perhaps they'll get some "hits" tee hee). If they do manage to catch anyone ... well ... it'll be a matter of mind-numbingly stupid law enforcement managing to catch mind-numbingly stupid drug dealers.

The only thing that really upset me about that site is that my tax dollars paid for these idiots to make fools of themselves.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:17 PM on March 18, 2002

Sites monitored included those operated by what the report calls "Drug-culture advocates" which it defines as individuals or groups "chiefly interested in expanding the size of the community to both legitimize their activity and increase pressure on lawmakers to change or abolish drug control laws." ... Also monitored were "Advocates of an expanded freedom of expression,"

What type of shit is that? Orwellian, in fact.
posted by sudama at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2002

Complaining that the government is "monitoring" your web site is bit like putting up a billboard and complaining that people are reading it. The net is a public forum, remember. Besides, if these jokers could only find 52 objectionable sites, then quit frankly they don't know their ass from a googlewhack. I'm not losing any sleep.
posted by jonmc at 8:48 PM on March 18, 2002

In other words, police officers Smersky and McWaithe slipped into a bar where criminals frequently hang out, hoping one or two might be there. The patrons promptly rose up in protest against this gross violation of their civil rights.
posted by dhartung at 12:29 AM on March 19, 2002

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