Saturday Extensive Reading


Tomgram: Shamsi and Harwood, An Electronic Archipelago of Domestic Surveillance

Let me tell you my modest post-9/11 dream. One morning, I’ll wake up and see a newspaper article that begins something like this: “The FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement in order to curtail the agency’s significant powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers.” Now, wouldn’t that be amazing? Unfortunately, as you’ve undoubtedly already guessed, that day didn’t come last week. To create that sentence I had to fiddle with the odd word or two in the lead sentence of an article about the FBI’s attempt to gain “significant new powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers throughout the U.S. and around the world.”

When it comes to the expansion of our national security-cum-surveillance state, last week was just another humdrum seven days of news. There were revelations about the widespread monitoring of the snail mail of Americans. (“[T]he United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.”) There was the news that a “sneak and peek” provision in the Patriot Act that “allows investigators to conduct searches without informing the target of the search” was now being used remarkably regularly. Back in 2001, supporters of the Act had sworn that the provision would only be applied in rare cases involving terrorism. Last week we learned that it is being used thousands of times a year as a common law enforcement tool in drug cases. Oh, and on our list should go the FBI’s new push to get access to your encrypted iPhones!

And don’t forget the reports on the Bureau’s remarkably creative attempts to cross various previously forbidden search and surveillance lines. Last week, for instance, we learned that FBI agents impersonated a media outfit, creating a fake Associated Press article in 2007 in order to implant malware on the computer of a 15-year-old suspected of making bomb threats. (“The AP said the plan undermined the independence of the press. The story also compromised its credibility to gather news safely and effectively, especially in parts of the world where its credibility relies on its independence.”) Similarly, news tumbled out about a recent investigation into illegal gambling in which the FBI turned off the Internet in three Las Vegas luxury “villas” that belonged to the Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino and then sent in its agents without warrants as “repairmen,” in the process secretly making videos that led to arrests.

Call it just another week of ho-hum news about American intelligence and law enforcement outfits running roughshod over American rights and the Constitution. And then, of course, there are those ever-expanding watchlists meant to keep you safe from “terrorism.” As Hina Shamsi and Matthew Harwood of the ACLU point out, the web of watchlists on which Americans might now find their names circulating is staggeringly, redundantly vast and still expanding. It essentially adds up to a post-9/11 secret system of identification, they write, that once would have boggled the American imagination but is now just an accepted part of the American way of life. Tom



About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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19 Responses to Saturday Extensive Reading

  1. Den says:

    Articles like this make me wonder what ever happened to the right to privacy, I never thought I would see the day when “Sneak and Peek” would be ok. While we were sleeping (some of us) we have been made subjects in Orwells’ World where insecurity is no longer a ‘condition’ but the rule.

    Speaking of conditions, it appears I have obtained a muted case of the Common Cold, less the sore throat that I took care of early on with Peroxide, however it did manage to infiltrate my head and lungs somewhat. It has been years since I have had any colds or virus stuff so I forgot what symptoms were, it’s a nuisance but not debilitating, I have to change the front tire on my bike, no time to sniffle.


    • º¿carol says:

      Still, a cold is annoying as hell. Unless it’s mild. LOVE a mild cold. Well, I don’t love it, but…well, you know what I mean.


  2. David B. Benson says:

    Not enough vit C?


  3. Den says:

    Too much contact in the public arena with the disheveled masses, not even C can fix that.


  4. David B. Benson says:

    Some sun, tomorrow rain.


  5. David B. Benson says:

    Carol will have subzero temperatures in a few days.


    • º¿carol says:

      I heard that! I’m annoyed, I have flower bulbs I need to plant. Plus I need to do one final mowing, get rid of the last of the leaves.

      On THAT note, I’m going out for a little loitering on my decks and the garage patio. If I’m not too spooked I’ll walk down the drive to the road, get the mail.

      For the first time ever, I made home made baked beans. They’ve been in the oven for 6 hours now, have another hour or two to go. Wish the smell in the house was better. I tasted the beans at the 6 hour mark, tasted good so who cares that the smell isn’t wonderful, like baking bread.

      Ok, heading outside with a cold beer. I’ll have to have my hat and gloves on, but I can still hold a beer.


      • David B. Benson says:

        Plant bulbs deep.


        • º¿carol says:

          Right, or the cold will heave them out of the ground.

          I’m back from my walk. I braved the driveway, telling myself no velociraptors have EVER been reported seen anywhere. Have to curb my imagination, lol.

          It’s around 37° but not as much wind as last night so it didn’t feel cold to me.
          I think I heard an animal getting killed in the woods across the cornfield. Hearing that kind of thing always makes me sad. Sometimes Mother Nature is hard to take.


  6. David B. Benson says:

    Chicken vegetable soup.


  7. David B. Benson says:

    Rossini, Italian in Algiers Overture
    Chopin, Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor
    Dvořák, Symphony No. 8 in G Major


  8. David B. Benson says:

    Michigan mastodons:
    Never any velociraptors there, I think.


    • º¿carol says:

      I know no one breathing the same air I am has ever seen one. I tell myself that when I get spooked out there! Mwahahahaha……………………..


  9. Den says:

    Tire changed, gweeted, Makers Mark therapy now,


  10. David B. Benson says:

    Fine concert. I especially liked the Dvorak.

    Alice came late and sat with her friends.


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