Wednesday, January 18, 2006

It's the power abuse, Damn it!

To: American People
Fr: An Alien with perspective
RE: What Bush is doing with his spying on the American People

This is an abuse of power. Plain and simple.

Oversight of the actions of the Executive Branch is a good thing. It is good for the people AND the executive branch (as much as they will scream, "Just trust us, we are doing it to protect you!")

The Executive branch should WANT oversight to their spying.

Why would they think that way? Because it will protect them from abuses of power within their ranks. For example, currently Scooter Libby, one of the highest members of their staff, is under indictment because it appears he used his power to access confidential government information to reveal the identity of a covert CIA agent who was looking for WMDs. It appears he did this because her husband told the government they weren't telling the American people the truth. You see, you don't have to go very deep to find a HUGE instance of this administration using their secret knowledge to silence one of their critics. Imagine the temptation that warrant-less searches offer them. Yes, Libby hasn't been convicted, but I'm using this example to show that a preponderance of data already has shown that they are capable --at the highest level-- of using secret information for their own purposes that have NOTHING to do with protecting the country from terrorism.

And regarding protecting this country from terrorism. I'm sick and tired of right-wing pundits and the republican leadership creating a GD false choice between our right to communicate without being spied upon and letting the terrorists blow us up. You don't have to come from another planet to see that just because people don't want the government to monitor their communications it means that they stand with the terrorists. Stop presenting people with your stupid false choices! Americans, stop assuming it's either accept spying or death! Do some God Damn research! If you had any idea of the scope of the FISA court AND the power of the NSA you would know that we could have both oversight AND accountability with traceability.


I'm working on an answer to the "I don't have anything to hide! people. The know nothings who are just fine with "all spying all the time, no oversight needed" crowd. Why is oversight necessary? The short answer is this. PAPER TRAIL. The long answer comes in a series of questions:
  • Have you ever gotten a letter delivered to you that wasn't meant for you?
  • Has anyone ever called you and it turned out it was a wrong number?
  • Was that person adamant that they dialed the right number?
  • Did you then ask them to repeat the number and it WAS your number, but they thought you were Achmed Habibbi instead of Bob Smith?

    If you are over the age of 21 the answer most likely is YES.

So, mistakes are made. Sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes not.

It's was just a Prank! A JOKE!

  • Have you ever signed up a friend (or enemy) for spam emails or male potency clinics?
  • Or started receiving said emails from the same?
  • Just how easy was it for those people to cast aspersions on you?

Sure YOU have never done anything wrong, but what if someone SAYS you did something wrong? Wouldn't you WANT some protections?

The Set Up. Soon to be a Major Motion Picture.

How about this one? My name is John Doe and I'm pissed at the rightwingyness of Bob Smith. I decide to send Bob:

  • a few suspicious notes that might draw attention from the NSA.
  • some questionable phone numbers to call back to
  • information on large quantities of fertilizer -- requested in his name

You know, just as a gag. No one would seriously believe that Bob, a nice white guy, could be a terrorist, I mean he lives in the midwest. It's not as if he's an Islamist guy.

But the wheels of warrant-less search with NO true oversight grind on. Soon Bob is being questioned by agents of the government. Now Bob, a good wingnut, also likes to keep lots of guns in his place, I mean that is his right! And sure Bob calls overseas, he is a business man after all. He probably just dialed the wrong numbers. Then Bob realizes I'm being SET UP! I didn't do ANYTHING wrong! Who authorized these agents coming here to check up on me? "You did Bob. By saying there is no need for oversight. For thinking that all the ways that we can look for terrorists need to be implemented instantly and without a paper trail. Because this paper trail might just have shown that you were being set up. Oh well, maybe your lawyer can help, Oops it turns out those calls combined with your guns and the request for fertilizer make you an 'enemy combatant'! Have fun in Rush's Club Gitmo." Not so funny now, eh?

"But I'm an American! I have rights!" You scream. Well you did Bob, but you thought you could trust a group of people to be perfect and to never make mistakes. You thought that the potential to abuse the system would never happen to you, that someone would never use the system against you by mistake, out of spite, as a joke or because they didn't like your viewpoint or to get rid of you. And when they found out there was so little oversight, the task just got easier. Because of that, you didn't bother to protest when no oversight spying happened to others. I mean come on, this isn't a cheesy, improbable, moralizing episode of the Twilight Zone! This isn't the movie Brazil! They can't REALLY believe you are a bad guy?! I mean sure, you said that the government should kill all the terrorists, but you meant those well documented terrorists. You know, the ones that they swept up based on phone numbers of suspected Al Qaeda people that they called and the ones with suspicious notes on their computers with machine guns and raw materials for bombs...

THIS is simply ONE reason, and not even the most compelling one, WHY we must have oversight and that lack of oversight doesn't make the terrorists win. Oversight is NOT incompatible with catching bad guys, but will actually protect us from our own imperfect systems.


Jim said...

What would you consider oversight? From what I've heard the congressional oversight committees are/were being informed.

1:37 PM  
Jim said...

Scooter Libby was indicted for one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. Not anything at all for revealing names.


1:40 PM  
Anonymous said...


5:02 PM  

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