Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
...And another thing...
It just occurred to me: if the NSA has been collecting every single land line and cell phone call going in and out of the United States, including the purely domestic phonecalls of 200 million or so Americans, in a massive database designed to analyze number pair relationships, they don't need to investigate who leaked what to whom, whether it's regarding the secret prisons in Europe or the leak of Valerie Plames identity. They already know. All NSA would need to do, at the behest of the White House, is to track all inbound calls to the known numbers -- and members of the government, who often serve as sources, know the numbers -- of reporters like James Risen, Eric Lichtblau and Dana Priest, and then run a data match to known numbers of the office, home and cell phones of members of Congress, employees at the CIA or State Department, etc. In other words, it's reasonable to assume that the administration already knows the sources of many of the leaks. They also know -- or have the capability of knowing -- who their political opponents are contacting, and how often. They also know who has called Shirlington Limousine at odd hours of the night, and if so, how to keep at least a half dozen guilty members of Congress in check.

They are expressing shock ... shock! ... at all the leaking, when in fact, they have a surefire way of knowing exactly who has been talking to whom.

And by the way, my question to those on the right who are alright with this -- and as such are following the example of the single most worthless member of Congress, Pat Roberts of Kansas -- the administration toadie and chairman of the intelligence committee who is an embarassment to his state, to his constituents, and to the United States Congress, would be the same as the one posed by none other than Joe Scarborough tonight: how much is too much? (oh, and the ACLU does it too argument is irrelevant -- the ACLU is databasing it's own members just as every other membership organization, including the GOP, does -- the government is recognizing no such restriction. We're all members... although some of you are apparently eager for the distraction...)

So back to my question: If you're okay with the federal government keeping a database of the phone numbers you've called, and those who have called you, what about:

-- a database of all of our medical data, provided volunarily by hospitals and scrubbed of names, but containing enough identifiers to data track a potential outbreak of botchilinum toxin infection, AIDS or bird flu...

-- a database of gun purchases and serial numbers, to track violent crime and terror-related firearms purchases...

-- a database of all of our banking records, to track terror financing...

-- a database of all of the Web site URL hits of all Americans (something they've already sought) to track down potential terrorists (with the added benefit of nabbing child pornographers, and people who download porn on the job)...

-- a database of all email address targets, to help track terrorist communications...

-- a database of UPC code scans from every retail outlet in the U.S., to track potentially nefarious purchases by terrorists...

It goes on and on, doesn't it? The potential is limitless. The question is, do you supporters of domestic data mining see a limit? Or is it "anything goes" when it comes to this president, and his "war on terror?" Under Mr. Bush and his supporters' theory of the "unitary executive," could the president suspend elections in November as part of his broad powers to fight the war on terror, say, in order to prevent al-Qaida from disrupting the elections with a terror attack, or to prevent campaigning Congresspeople from inadvertently disclosing crucial intelligence in the war on terror during campaign events? If he did suspend the election, would you go for that, too?

And for those who, like AJ, have this to say today:

The details about Qwest not participating was horrendous and put Qwest and its customers in a terrible situation. Contrary to the liberal mutterings I am not pushing on Qwest one way or the other. The leak is what is disturbing. And Qwest could pay a terrible price. ...

... I know enough right now to move all communications I want hidden from federal scrutiny to Qwest - ASAP.

How much do you want to bet that many of you Bush stalwarts out west will be doing just that? And once the moves Qwestward begin, it's not that company that will be paying.

Oh and by the way, you've gotta love this kind of forrest v. trees post... (short version: ohmigod, can you imagine what a politicized White House could do with this? As opposed to the straight to business onoe we've got now, right?) Blind minds, indeed.

And by the way, can we toss out Alberto Gonzales already? This man has a truth, law and logic allergy like you wouldn't believe...

Tags: News and politics, NSA, domestic spying, Bush, USA Today, civil liberties, Constitution
posted by JReid @ 9:30 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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