Saturday, June 08, 2013


Plenty of commentary and outrage going around these last couple of days. I'm afraid we're a little late, folks. The genie came flying out of the bottle atop a cork with Patriot Act emblazoned along its length more than a decade ago.

But it's keeping us safe, said the doe-eyed hausfrau from the front seat of her Escalade as the cool manufactured air kept beads of perspiration at bay. She said the same thing as she bustled her darling all-American family through airport security where an unseen agent ogled her comely teen daughter courtesy of a full-body scanner.

If it keeps us safe ...

She yawned and waxed self-righteous when that Paula-what's-her-name got what she deserved. The fact that the revelation flew in upon the wings of a private email account didn't even register. Patraeus who? The CIA? What's that stand for? Oh for pity's sake, look at the time! I'm off for my mani/pedi.

She'll be every bit as ambivalent through today's kerfuffle. They just have to keep track of those people. It doesn't have anything to do with me.

Of course, we all sure love surveillance when it catches a bad guy.

Remember the feeding frenzy that ensued in the wake of the Boston tragedy? The whole country went crazy combing through photos and video. Officials scoured every entity in the vicinity of the explosion. Sure enough, some business had a cam recording the suspects. And after that, the predictable cries of disbelief ensued: Why weren't those guys on someone's radar?

Gee, buddy, do you really think that radar will exclude you?

He does. He's blind to the fact that he's already a suspect. (We'll just need to take a peek in that backpack, sir). Nothing's going to change. Don't blame Washington. It's not about the right or the left. It's about my little friend in the Escalade, folks, and the guy fuming on the radio about tracking all the Muslims. We all collectively allowed fear to strip away our power.

It's our fault.

And if unseen eyes are spying on the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, don't be surprised when the State of Ohio informs you that "our records indicate" you've failed to pay state sales tax on some online purchases. Don't be surprised when, at the Wellness Screening for your new job, some polite lady in a smock tells you that your credit card purchases indicate a family diet that includes entirely too much soda pop and processed meat.

That, my friends, is what it will look like.

*  *  *


Bill said...

Coming Soon: " How Bush and a doe eyed hausfrau turned the USA into a police state. Obama and Holder don't know whether to shit or go blind.

Jon Moore said...

“If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”
President Barack Obama, June 7 2013

Welp, I guess we have some problems.
Our Federal government, undermining liberty since 1798.

Erin O'Brien said...

I am too lazy to look it up, but I remember some poll regarding those full body scanners. Something like 60+ percent of the people thought they were worth it if it keeps us safe.


Erin O'Brien said...

Obama in 2007: "When I am president, there will be no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war."


Erin O'Brien said...

Poll: four out of five support full body airport scanners (Nov 15, 2010).

Opinions changed about the scanners and I think they have mostly been removed or replaced with machines that aren't so graphic (gee, I bet that was cheap), but will Americans really care about the GOV collecting some sea of numbers at a data center? I doubt it.

Oh and folks, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would have have jumped onto the surveillance train with utter glee.

We are so effed.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

"Obama in 2007: "When I am president, there will be no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war."


Well, cats and dogs are now officially living together - Erin O'Brien called Obama a bastard. Someone alert the press .... ;-)


Bill said...

It's pretty encouraging to see left and right equally disgusted by what's happening to us. I hope the outrage grows and the press doesn't soften up.

Erin O'Brien said...

Don't bet on it, Bill. From

Yet amid the criticism, there’s little sign of a broader backlash against the president or his approach, say public opinion analysts and political observers, given that Americans have grown accustomed to the idea of sacrificing some personal liberty in the interest of staying safe from terrorism.

Guess they've been reading my blog. We'll see how the polls roll over the next weeks.

And I can only imagine how the righties would have blown their tops had Obama kept his promise on halting surveillance, particularly had there been an attack.

Anonymous said...

I am much more concerned about how the data is going to be used and who has access to the data. I am also very concerned about the security of that data. The governments record on protecting and defending our freedoms is poor at best, no matter who the President happens to be. There is always an excuse and its always for the public good. Its time to start all over again with a brand new band of crooks.

James Old Guy

Erin O'Brien said...

Watching Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein explaining how this is keeping us safe on ABC's "This Week."

Now Feinstein's tripping over her tongue trying to explain Clapper's previous claim that there was no broad spy system.


Erin O'Brien said...

James: The HEAD OF THE CIA got spied on and TAKEN DOWN over SEX.

Sure, these programs and this metadata doesn't threaten privacy.

Bill said...

Wouldn't it be easier if we all just had chips installed in our necks? We could do it at birth.

Erin O'Brien said...

It's not funny and it has little to do with you and me. It's about our kids and their kids.

My kid was drug-screened for her job at STARBUCKS. How long until the righties pass a pro-business law that says a private entity can access your e-dossier as long as you give permission?

And then when you apply for a job, you'll be asked to sign a "routine" permission slip that gives them access to every damn electronic file attached to you. Start with your credit card/banking history: how many bags of Fritos you bought (obesity risk), how many six-packs of Miller (alcoholic risk), how much money you spent in a casino (gambling addiction risk), whether or not you own a motorcycle (accident risk) ...

Then it'll be medical history--tons of places already ban smokers from hiring.

You'll have to be a perfectly healthy intoxicant-free moral angel to get a goddamn job at McDonald's.

When that happens, good LUCK keeping that data secure.

And the gun camp is worried about a gun registry. How ridiculous!

DogsDontPurr said...

I think it was wayyyy too late a long long ago to expect that we have any sort of privacy.

Yes, it might be something to wonder *who* is actually snooping on your stuff: is it the government? is it thieves? stalkers? weirdos?

But we have been willingly spoon feeding our private life to strangers for as long as I can remember.

Think about all the info you have willingly given out to apply for a credit card, rent an apartment, get a job.

Remember how we were reluctant at first, but now willingly give out our phone number so we can get a Safeway discount card? Now almost all grocery stores, drug stores and pet food stores have some sort of rewards club program that we readily sign up for. Spoon feeding them data about our shopping habits, etc.

Then there are all the blogs, and facebooks, and twitters where we willingly detail our lives for all the world to see....sometimes revealing even the exact amount of hot sauce we prefer on our green bean sandwich.

We give this stuff away...all the time.

Sure, we might worry what is done with this info, but really, the cat is out of the bag. There is no such thing as privacy.

If you don't think it's right that a company does drug testing because it's none of their business what you don on your free time....then don't work for companies who do that. Otherwise, it looks like you are in support of drug testing. Don't shop at places that collect your personal data, don't watch cable TV, don't get a cell phone or a credit card.

Or screw all that. Live large, dance nekkid in the streets, blog about it. Who cares what the neighbors think. You are already being watched. And you have been for a very long time.

Anonymous said...

Erin is correct, we the people gave away our freedom to feel secure based on fear. This is not new, the country did the same thing after Pearl Harbor. We made mistakes then and a huge mistake with the creation of Homeland Security and the Patriot act. We gave up the very thing that made this country unique. We did it, we allowed our elected representatives to cash in on fear and gave them the keys to the country.
James Old Guy

Bill said...

All is not lost. We can still correct the abuses of the IRS by simplifying the tax code. We can still limit the power of the executive branch. There are things we can do individually too. If I share personal data with banks and retailers for my own convenience, how can I blame them. "It" may not be funny, Erin, but, it is entertaining, watching politicians and pundits figure out whether or not to be outraged. If you didn't laugh at "This week" this morning, you've lost your sense of humor.

Bill said...

This is pretty interesting:
Whistle Blower Interview

Erin O'Brien said...

DDP: We give this stuff away...all the time.

You are absolutely right about that. These guys that bray on about their gun collections online, and then fret over a gun registry are so so silly to me.

And I appreciate your sentiments about just not caring and living large anyway, but when it comes to my kid--I worry she will not be able to live large. I worry that she'll have to worry about who's watching her and recording her all the time. It will change America.

They are looking at the stuff we do not willingly share. I don't care what anyone thinks about Patraeus and Broadwell, but that stuff wasn't posted on Facebook. It was private communications between consenting adults.

The gov spied on it and then they made it public! That's exactly what they are telling us they won't do.

I do understand your point of view, but I'm not willing to forfeit so quickly--because of my kid.

Bill the Wrenchbender said...

Privacy, heh, sometime around 05-06 my kid and his buddy made a comment on a cell phone call about the current POTUS and how he should be shot. Not too much later (day or two) they were both being interviewed in his buddies parents living room by two FBI or Secret Service agents, can't remember which, without any consent from me or my wife. I basically told them to fuck off and took my kid home. That's how it was then, I doubt it's any better now.

Erin O'Brien said...


Bill said...

Huh? There has to be more to that story, wrenchbender. To whom was the cell phone call made? The white house? I've overheard libs talking, in Starbucks, saying "Bush should be shot".... The only scrutiny they received was a "what the fuck?" look from me. They still talk about Bush and still haven't been interviewed by the gov't. Can you imagine how many Bush haters have uttered those words on phone calls?

Bill the Wrenchbender said...

That's pretty much it,just a comment on a cell phone conversation. I was pretty surprised myself. I was working on a couple of cold ones after work, and had to go get him out of there. The surprising thing was that I didn't get arrested myself, once I figured out what was happening, I was not very cooperative whatsoever, we left well before they wanted us to. I wasn't very pleasant either.

Bill the Wrenchbender said...

Hold the phone,just talked to the offending parties involved, apparently there was a wrong number dialed and a prank voice mail left. These facts did not come to light (to me)when they were 14 years old. I still don't say anything on a phone call, cellular or otherwise, that I wouldn't say in a room full of law enforcement.

Anonymous said...

According to Obama the war on terror is over, so why do we still need all that data for something that he says won't happen again?
James Old Guy

Anonymous said...

Just a few thoughts:

WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAID: While "our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue...this war, like all wars, must end."

WHAT THE PRESIDENT DIDN'T SAY: "The war on terror is over"; "The war on terror will end" on any fixed date; "We will never be attacked again."*

THE SIGNIFICANCE: a)We can't keep calling anti-terrorism campaigns 'war' forever. A perpetual state of war warps who and what we are as a nation-AND-b)Calling it a 'War on Terror' was stupid to begin with. Terror is not a person, a country, an ethnicity, or a religion. Terror is a tactic, a weapon. In 1941 the United States didn't declare war on 'aircraft-carrier-launched sneak attacks'; we declared war on the Japanese Empire. The United States didn't declare war on U-boats or panzer divisions; we declared war on Germany.

*The President also didn't say a bunch of other false and dishonest drivel the Fox-led right-wing echo machine is spewing. But I've only a lifetime to work with.

@Erin-yes, the intrusive scanners are gone-the last ones were pulled in the middle of May. The cost, for new scanners and to retrofit the old intrusive ones to provide a level of privacy, was $140M. Total cost of scanners so far: somewhat around $2B. Tickets to the Security Theater are expensive.

@Erin-The Director of Central Intelligence wasn't 'spied on and taken down over sex.' DCI Petraeus was taken down because of an investigation into a stalking complaint. Pursuant to that investigation, Mr Petraeus' mistress Paula Broadwell emerged as the prime suspect. It was discovered that Broadwell was in possession of classified documents and that Mr Petraeus had, by setting up certain e-mail accounts, probably violated security procedures. Mr Petraeus cited the affair in his resignation and one can imagine he was happy to cop to the affair as it deflected attention from the breaches of security.

See you all later-MR

Erin O'Brien said...

Osama bin Laden has had the edge on the War on Terror for some time (shoe removal, full body scans, random searches).

Now that the depths of the surveillance state are being revealed, Mr. Smith, I'd say President Obama is correct is saying the WOT is over.

And Osama bin Laden is the clear winner.

Bill said...

OK. Let's pretend that there aren't a couple million Muslim fundamentalist's who want to kill as many Americans as possible. Or, we could accept the truth and we could update our terms. Instead of "war on terror" we can call it Jihad.

Erin O'Brien said...

Bill, You've gone from calling the US a "police state" to hoping the "disgust" over "what's happening to us" doesn't wane to bemoaning the dangers of "a couple million Muslim fundamentalists."

So, what gives? Are you for the "police state" spying on all of us because of all those scary Muslims or not?

MR: Yeah, they started spying on Broadwell because of a complaint and we all know how it ended.

That the GOV can poke around anybody's email without a search warrant is bullshit. That's the whole point: they have all this shit to look for "terrorists." Pretty soon that will include drug lords as well. Then gang members. Then associates.

If a catfight can take down the head of the CIA, pretty soon, the Feds will be knocking on your door because your kid talked about smoking grass in an email.

Anonymous said...

We only know what they want us to know. Who is to say it is just emails,cell phone, etc. Got a web cam on computer? built in microphone on you puter, allow remote access? Are you really in control of you computer?

Never under estimate the power of the government, and the desire to stay in power.
James Old Guy

Bill said...

Im so confused!

Anonymous said...

@ Erin-

I don't wish to seem like I'm quibbling over 'L'affaire Petraeus-BUT-I don't believe there were any steps taken that would have required a warrant. After Jill Kelly contacted the FBI over the cyberstalking that Paula Broadwell was engaging in, she voluntarily gave the FBI access to her computer. The FBI was able to find Broadwell's e-mail account from Kelly's computer. After Broadwell was interviewed by the FBI she acknowledged the affair with Petraeus and voluntarily turned over her computer and other documents.

So, based on what I have been able to find out about this skeezy crew and their skeezy meanderings, there were no steps along the way which would have required a warrant.

I don't like it any better than you do, but there it is...


PS: don't forget to ask me about a cool Rundgren discovery...

Erin O'Brien said...

A long-winded discussion on Broadwell's email.

Anonymous said...

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I do believe I have read this somewhere, guess it doesn't apply any more.