Friday, December 27, 2013

Whew! That Was a Close One!

A judge says whatever the NSA is doing is just peachy, constitutionally speaking:

A federal judge in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency's mass collection of phone data is constitutional, rejecting a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley's decision came just 11 days after a district judge in Washington ruled the opposite – that the agency's "almost Orwellian" surveillance program is likely unconstitutional. The ruling raises the likelihood that the issue will be settled by the Supreme Court.
In his 54-page decision, Pauley said there is no evidence that the government has used any of the data collected for purposes other than "investigating and disrupting" terror attacks.
None of this matters at all, in any practical sense.  If a whole army of federal judges -- and I'm sure there are enough of them to constitute at least a modest army -- were to declare the NSA constitutionally impermissible and order its activities to cease and desist, does anyone imagine that they'd go out of business?  Didn't think so.  Probably the only thing that would happen is that all of the judges' extramarital romances, porn-surfing habits, and other such peccadilloes would "leak."  In any case, it would be made abundantly clear that judges actually command no more divisions than does the Pope (thanks, Josef Stalin).

It's worth noticing, though, for purposes of sour amusement.  Ah, our Glorious Constitution!  Amendment 4 suggests that, absent probable cause "supported by oath or affirmation," and warrants "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," we're all secure against searches and seizures.  I say it suggests this because it certainly appears to be no more than a suggestion at best, and really, more like a bad joke.  In practice, it might as well say that nothing shall be searched or seized unless someone receiving a government paycheck feels like searching or seizing it, in which case, it's theirs.

And the judges!  One says the NSA crap is "almost Orwellian" and "likely unconstitutional."  Hmmmmm.  Can we conclude that it would become certainly unconstitutional if and only if it becomes fully Orwellian?  Doubleplus ungood, man.  Then there's the other judge.  Since the government is doing things for purposes he likes, obviously what they're doing is constitutional.  "Constitutional" means "having a purpose that a judge approves of."

Finally, don't forget: it doesn't matter what any judge thinks or writes.  The government has the guns.  It's going to do whatever it wants.

Get used to it.

But that's just the problem.  We are used to it.  And getting more used to it by the day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In Which I Agree With the NSA Director (About One Thing)

Check it out: one of the coldest and crappiest leftovers from the Dubya Administration seems to think Edward Snowden should be killed.

Pretty routine stuff.  And I'm sure his opinion is enthusiastically endorsed by the warm & cuddly progressives in the current O'Bomber junta, too.  Ho-hum.

One tiny little fragment of truth does appear at the end of this item:
NSA Director Keith Alexander, however, disagrees with Ledgett.
"I think people have to be held accountable for their actions," Alexander told CBS. "Because what we don't want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data knowing they can strike the same deal."
Yes, people should be held accountable for their actions.  Which means that it's actually the John Boltons and the Keith Alexanders of this world that should have dates with a rope and that tall, strong oak.

[via the Lew Rockwell site]

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Regime to Itself: Anything Wrong?

Big surprise: the answer's "no."

Some of this is kind of funny, in a bumbling-totalitarian sort of way:

A participant in a White House-sponsored review of surveillance activities described as “shameful” an apparent decision to leave most of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk spying intact.
Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute, said Friday that the review panel he advised is at risk of missing an opportunity to restore confidence in US surveillance practices.
“The review group was searching for ways to make the most modest pivot necessary to continue business as usual,” Meinrath said.
Headed by the CIA’s former deputy director, Michael Morrell, the review is expected to deliver its report to President Barack Obama on Sunday, the White House confirmed, although it is less clear when and how substantially its report will be available to the public.

"Less clear when and how substantially its report will be available to the public?" Less clear?

Well, let me clarify a little.

Our rulers will tell us exactly what they want to, and they'll do the telling exactly when they want to do it.  And there's no reason to want them to tell us, nor is there any reason to be in a hurry to hear.  Because what they tell us will fall into two basic categories.  The dominant one is the lies.  Yes, most of it will be untainted by any slightest flavor of truth.  Value: zero.

But then, there are the true parts.  There'll be some of that, because they actually do want us to know, in general, that they're doing whatever they want.  It's useful for intimidation, and inculcating a sense of futility and despair.  But it's also necessary to remember that our rulers are human, too, and they have feelings.  And, for a good, warm-blooded tyrant, it's more fun to have your way with people if they know you're doing it.

Now, as we all know so well, the cure for every evil in a glorious duh-mocracy such as ours is located in the voting booth.  Why, we have a two-party system!  If we find our liberties being violated by those creepy old war-and-secrecy-loving Republicans, all we have to do is put the warm, nurturing Democratic Party in charge!  All we have to do is ...

... oh, wait, that's right.  Sorry.  My mistake.  Never mind.