It occurred to me while reading and answering comments on this recent post that I should clarify something. Yes, I was lampooning Gen. Hayden and the NSA domestic intelligence-gathering. But I tend to make ironic comments about everyone, whether I agree with them or not. I think it’s healthy to mock my own positions the way opponents would. It helps me to keep a sense of perspective that people with calcified points of view lack.
You see, it doesn’t bother me a bit that the government is engaging in a variation on the classic intelligence-gathering technique of "traffic analysis." I hope the sweeps are comprehensive enough to work, and help prevent the next 9/11. Ultimately, I think playing defense all the time will fail at some point — all the bad guys have to do is get lucky once. That’s why we need to be on the offensive on their turf, with the ultimate goal of changing the conditions that produce these nut jobs. But in the meantime, analyze phone records all you want.
Anyway, here is the response I wrote to various comments. I thought it would be better to make a separate post of them, since the points were important enough for that:
- I first heard about the Murtha thing when I was trapped watching TV news while working out several nights ago. It was FoxNEWS. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen or read anything about it since, until you mentioned it (Of course, I’ve been buried in state and local with all these candidate interviews). It’s not about political "bias." It’s about the fact that TV always blows this type of stuff out of proportion.
- I couldn’t care less about records being kept of phone calls. I wouldn’t care if it was actual surveillance. The G-men can listen to my calls all day if they like. I’ll say howdy to them. Does that mean I’m A-OK with the program? Not quite — I’m pretty upset with the president that he won’t work with Congress to change the stupid law so that there’s no question that what we’re doing — what we need to do, what we’d be crazy NOT to do — is legal.
- What "rights?" Have you had anything taken away from you? Do you know anybody who’s had anything taken away from him? What are we talking about — some hyperactive, superlibertarian view of the 4th Amendment? That was about Redcoats kicking down your door in the dead of night and tearing up your house. It wasn’t about records of how many times you called Aunt Martha last month. Like anybody cares.
- It occurs to me that I have become inured to privacy concerns by the fact of what I do for a living. Especially with this blog, I write just about anything that pops into my head. And I have this general rule — don’t write anything in an e-mail, or say anything on the phone, that you wouldn’t want published. Yeah, sometimes I slip on that. But I doubt that any such slips would interest the NSA.