The millionth example of NSA spying nonsense

Friday, August 25, 2006 at 05:11 PM

The right either doesn't get it or, far more likely, doesn't want to get it, when it comes to the NSA warrantless surveillance program.

Every bloody one of them keeps acting as though those of us who object simply want to stop surveillance itself, rather than warrantless surveillance.

Example one million, from the NY Daily News, trying to spin the London bombing plot into a justification for the NSA program (emphasis added):

Since before last Christmas, it is now learned, MI5 and New Scotland Yard and several other agencies have been working closely together, monitoring Internet sites frequented by known bad actors, identifying everyone who visited those sites, whittling that list down to a specific set of suspicious characters, then tapping phone calls and e-mails and analyzing the back-and-forth message traffic - finally even fitting out the suspects' automobiles and motorbikes with satellite tracking devices, the better to follow them everywhere they went, day in, day out.

In short, great police work, exactly the sort of eavesdropping and data-mining techniques that here in the U.S. get so loudly fussed at by those misguided souls who railed against telephone data-mining by the National Security Agency, and against warrantless eavesdropping on suspicious international calls, and against letting a judge issue a warrant so the law could listen in on any phone that a suspected terrorist chose to use.

Had MI5 not monitored Web traffic and tapped 70 cell phones, quite likely the terror bunch would have smuggled explosives aboard airplanes and blasted several thousand innocents to oblivion. The Brits smartly did just what they had to do. American law enforcement must have all the same weapons. It is well to remember that, in this war, the terrorists need to succeed only once, while we must succeed every time. We cannot afford to lose even one battle.

Un huh.  So get the police to take their evidence about the web site to a court.  Get the court to see that the evidence really does establish suspicion that people visiting the site are dangerous.  Have the court okay the necessary steps to identify the visitors.  Then, when the list has been "whittled down" to a specific set of suspicious characters, take the evidence of their suspicious character back to the court and get an okay to tap, surveil, etc.

Really hard, isn't it?  So damn difficult and time consuming that we're obviously much better off just turning our civil rights over to the government, and to spying agencies, in the expectation that such folks would never--never, I say--abuse that power for their own purposes.