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Sunday, February 05, 2006

True patriots 

The Washington Post reports on the domestic spying program and toward the end of the article I found some interesting stuff.
First, the National Security Agency machines are not selective:
. . . the agency has acknowledged use of automated equipment to analyze the contents and guide analysts to the most important ones. According to one knowledgeable source, the warrantless program also uses those methods. That is significant to the public debate because this kind of filtering intrudes into content, and machines "listen" to more Americans than humans do . . .
Second, in the NSA version of reality, they haven't actually done anything even if their machines listen to every single phone call and email ever sent anywhere:
NSA rules since the late 1970s. . . have said "acquisition" of content does not take place until a conversation is intercepted and processed "into an intelligible form intended for human inspection."
So the conclusion I draw is that all the phone calls that everybody makes could well be available electronically in the NSA database somewhere and NSA would continue to claim they actually had not "acquired" this data.
You see the hole here, don't you?
The data is sitting there, just waiting to be processed. Just because some NSA supervisor or even some judge hasn't approved it, doesn't mean that the data could not still be used.
To make money, for one thing -- imagine being able to listen in on Bill Gate's phone calls to find out when would be a good time to buy or sell Microsoft stock.
But mainly to keep the Bush administration informed about what the Democrats are up to. Remember that in Karl Rove's universe, absolutely everything is political. Democrats are, by definition, traitors. Cheney said a year ago that voting for Kerry was risking the security of the United States. It wasn't just a cynical ploy -- they really believe this.
So it might well be possible to convince some super-loyal, super-patriotic NSA employees that the Democratic congressional leadership, say, or Howard Dean or the DNC are a threat to the repubic -- particularly if the NSA is also hiring 24-year-old presidential campaign workers like NASA is.
They would think that listening in on Teddy Kennedy's phone calls would be the patriotic thing to do.

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