Saturday, February 04, 2006


I've noticed the outrage from the left on the surveillance program that President Bush has used to attempt to identify Al-Qaeda operatives in this country. I haven't commented on it, because I don't see the problem. Censorship and identifying spies has long been the watchword during times of war.

I know that General Washington (no links) routinely monitored the correspondence of his generals after the Benedict Arnold debacle. He didn't want any traitors giving information to the enemy.

I know that General Sherman routinely sent reporters away from the battle front. Sherman knew that Southern sympathizers routinely read Northern newspapers and didn't want news of movements and battlefield preparations becoming general knowledge.

During our Second World War, I know that the military routinely censored the private letters of our service members. I've seen my uncles letters that were censored on the trip from the battle front to my grandparents houses. We also listened to the Japanese radio traffic to gain an edge on military planning. We know that the Japanese did the same to our radio traffic.

I know that current cell phone conversations can be intercepted with an inexpensive 900mhz scanner from any Radio Shack store. One jail where I worked kept a scanner in the control pod to monitor the police radio. It was nice having advance notice when a prisoner was coming in. During the doldrums hours of the early morning, we would sometimes switch the scanner to the 900mhz range and listen to local cell phone communications. Hilarious stuff! People talk about the weirdest things at 3:00 a.m.

I know that Carlos Marcello said that two people can keep a secret as long as one of them is dead.

The outrage of the loyal opposition is something that amazes me. Communications are not secure unless they are whisered into a compliant ear. Pillow talk of any variety is apt to be monitored if you are using electronic communications. This is nothing new, nor is it necessarily diabolical. It is simply a fact of life. If you want your communications secure, use secure communication methods. If you use non-secure electronic methods, don't bitch if I listen in.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't bother me if they're listening to conversations and reading email to and from overseas and to and from people with terror connections. BUT . . . who's watching the guys on the computers at the NSA? And WHO decides who they monitor? And who CAN they monitor? Anybody, that's who.

They can monitor their exwives and exhusbands and people with different political viewpoints. Would you really have wanted Richard Nixon to have that monitoring power?

Imagine G. Gordon Liddy with that monitoring power.

Someone other than the people in the Oval Office needs to monitor the monitors, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I agree with J.

Ten years from now you are not going to get a letter from Homeland Security that says, “Between September 2005 and January 2006 we had a warrentless wiretap, a pen registrar, and a keylogger active at your residence. After careful study and review, we have decided that you are not a threat to National Security. For now.”

The powers are broad and sweeping, and they violate the Fourth Amendment and the right to privacy. They are powerful tools if misused and there is no oversight. No oversight guarantees misuse.

Anonymous said...

Just one question:

In your world, exactly how many wrongs does it take to make a right?

Telling me that all of those other folks stomped on a right to privacy, does not in any way make it right.