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December 20, 2005

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Arkin is one of the numerous people who know better, but find the temptation of being one of the Kewl Kidz irresistable.

The main problem here, and it's the only one, is thatyou're doing precisely what Jes did in the prior thread: conflating NSA activities with FBI activities. This causes more confusion in people's understanding than it educates them about the different programs, their different histories, and what's different about them, in a considerable variety of ways.

Details of what "surveillance" means here matters greatly, for instance.

"Arkin is one of the numerous people who know better, but find the temptation of being one of the Kewl Kidz irresistable."

Whereas engaging in tu quoque and mindreading might remain resistible. It's better for the soul, I hear.

hilzoy: "Also, I listen to Bob Dylan a lot. Heaven only knows what fascinating tidbits have been added to my FBI file in recent years."

Can you check and let us know? Or is your "file" classified?
(Also the listening to Dylan bit doesn't really belong in my response... just wanted to let the blogosphere know how cool you are... in case they've somehow inexpicably missed it!)

PS: Happy holidays all you geniuses. It's been a great treat sharing your thoughts/ideas this past year.

Gary: I didn't mean to. (More responding to Arkin, on what "the government" is doing.) In fact, I think that the FBI is watching PETA and the ACLU, while the DOD's Counterintelligence Field Activity is watching the Quakers and the people protesting Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

I do think that lawlessness is (in this case) a property of much of the administration, not of (e.g.) the NSA.

I have no problem with internal security service agencies keeping tabs on political groups with proper judicial approval. That isn't targetting those groups, it's gathering intelligence, especially if it no no way hinders or prevents those groups or members from expressing legal political action.

Now, if there were no warrants granted...

I have no problem with internal security service agencies keeping tabs on political groups with proper judicial approval.

Many countries we consider "free" do so.

It's not so much the snooping as the circumventing of law that is so disturbing. If there is a real, tangible threat, present your case to the public and rewrite the law.

It seems so simple.

Are right wing groups being snooped on? I resent the implication that us vegetatians are more likely to be terrorist-collaborators than members of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association ( an organization that once hired hitmen, shipped them to a small town and set out to murder a list of over one hundred citizens, including the town's sheriff).

lily, perhaps they're concerned that vegetarians will, in an extreme act of agroterrorism, unleash a yuckiness virus on the cattle population which infects cows and makes their flesh taste like lima beans.

Are right wing groups being snooped on?

I'm sure they are.

It's not "snooping" for government agencies who are tasked with internal security to simply gather information on any politically-based groups in order to determine whether they are either extremist, likely to become so, or are a magnet for extremist personalities.

As a matter of fact, I'd be shocked if they didn't gather any information of any kind about groups like these. The real issue is that it would be easy for these agencies to turn to harrassment or persecution, which is why you need judicial overview to prevent this. Which is why the NSA spying is so troubling, even if the subjects of the surveillance were legitimate targets of investigation.

lily, perhaps they're concerned that vegetarians will, in an extreme act of agroterrorism, unleash a yuckiness virus on the cattle population which infects cows and makes their flesh taste like lima beans.

I think that there have been a few cases of extremist behaviour on the part of some members of animal rights groups in the past, including the poisoning of supermarket meat and the threatening of people involved in vivisection or animal testing.

That doesn't mean that all are, simply that if an animal rights group turned to extremist and illegal political action, organizations like the FBI should be aware of the group prior to that, right?

It's nice to see our finite resources focuses squarely on the true threats of Vegan queers.

Those guys are up to no good. You can tell because they don't eat meat, and engage in sodomy. Just like terrorists.

Cass Sunstein says the AUMF might indeed trump FISA Rules

Marty Lederman says uh-uh

Umm, One is not in response to the other.

Still waking u. How decadent, or desperate.

"Can you check and let us know?"

I'm sure an FOIA request should be processed within ten years or so. Maybe. Expurgated, of course. But often interesting, nonetheless. Only occasionally actually frightening, other than the general spookiness.

The point to worry about general surveillance, and warrantless surveillance, is the slippery slope. Acts like taping Martin Luthur King's extra-marital-sex life and mailing tapes to reporters, does serious damage to someone, and is the sort of thing no government agency should ever do, to engage in extreme understatement.

Taping King, or anyone, without a warrant and a good cause, is damaging to the privacy of the person involved, and may lead to worse.

Showing up at a rally to listen to a speech, say, is only damaging insofar as it leads to further rolling down the slope. The history of our government is that the ball rolls down, gravity being what it is, unless it's actively prevented. And the battle always comes anew.

The main problem facing us now, as much as the evilness of the present or future incumbents, is technology.

It's soon enough going to be more or less impossible for there to be any privacy, if someone is sufficiently interested, and I don't see much hope of the law holding back that fact. Not without passing a law banning electronics. (Let's not even get to how nanotech will come into play.)

David Brin has been arguing for more than a decade that therefore we should just give up the notion of privacy. I certainly am repelled by that view, but I don't have what I feel is a fully adequate refutation of it. That I don't like something isn't going to be enough to stop it.

This is a longer-term issue than that of the present incumbent, but it's not going to be going away. Not unless we all decide we're Turning Amish. (And most Amish use more tech than most people imagine, but I digress.)

"Gary: I didn't mean to."

I'm sure. Nonetheless, Arkin was clearly referring to the NSA activity, and that only, and you rang the FBI activity into it. It's useful in a discussion nof fruit salad (I'll unpack that metaphor if need be), but when you use evidence of what the FBI is doing to say that Arkin is wrong about what the NSA is doing, you miss your target. That's another way of putting my point.

"In fact, I think that the FBI is watching PETA and the ACLU, while the DOD's Counterintelligence Field Activity is watching the Quakers and the people protesting Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

I expect so, but Arkin was speaking of neither. NSA=!CIFA or FBI. That's all.

I was working from memory of Arkin's piece, which I read when it first appeared, until this paragraph, by the way, but I just went to double-check my memory, and he's entirely clear: his first words are "Yesterday's New York Times editorial on National Security Agency spying in the United States ...."

So, alas, and it brings me no pleasure to say it, I fear that when you said "Apparently, he was wrong," you were wrong. But it's useful to know you're not, in fact, perfect.

Quakers are dangerous.

Quaker children are reared on stories about Quaker role-models breaking the law, going to jail, and following their conscience regardless of what the public perception of "right" is.

Quakers are the radical extremist wing of Christianity: it's a mystery to me how they've acquired and retained their cover identity as cute harmless fluffy bunnies.

Incidentally, Arkin today strikes me as fairly spot-on. (Not comprehensive; just accurate in what he says, which he generally is, in my experience.)

"Quakers are the radical extremist wing of Christianity: it's a mystery to me how they've acquired and retained their cover identity as cute harmless fluffy bunnies."

It's the oats.

Br/n on on privacy, if interested. Mind, Br/n can be a jerk. (Of course, so can I.)

Mind, Br/n can be a jerk.

This will be the first thing by him I've read without talking chimps in it.

It's the oats.

Funny.

It's the oats.

And the pacifism.

I think General Gonzales and Prof Sunstein need to take into account that FISA has a specific provision for what happens after a declaration of war. If Congress "declared war" by means of the AUMF, then we're in a situation controlled by 50 U.S.C. section 1811.

It would be strange indeed if the Executive could argue that it has greater authority to engage in this, that, or the other in time of undeclared war, as opposed to declared war.

It's also worth noting that when FISA was passed in 1978, Congress knew that there was such a thing as wars without congressional declaration, and that it was at pains to include the D word in section 1811. Rather than just say "time of war" or something similar.

This will be the first thing by him I've read without talking chimps in it.

Read Earth. Aside from being a pretty good book on its own merits, it rings prescient in all sorts of ways--some good, some bad, some not easily sorted. But it's thought-provoking, which in my eyes is probably one of the highest praises a book can be given.

Me: This will be the first thing by him I've read without talking chimps in it.

Catsy: Read Earth.

Actually, I lied for comic effect. I have read Earth, and have been terrified of tiny Brazilian black holes orbiting Earth's core for several years now.

I've also read The Postman and several other non-uplift novels by him as well.

"This will be the first thing by him I've read without talking chimps in it."

Since this won't give away anything about private encounters, or things he's done to cause respectable well-known writer friends of mine to pour a Coke on his head, or such-like (not that that didn't get dozens, if not hundreds, of posts thither and yon, particularly on some LiveJournals), I only recently, as in, maybe 3-6 weeks ago, accidentally noticed he had a blog, and dropped by, and found him in a long argument with his commenters who were bitching that he didn't embed links; after many attempts to teach him, he declared that it was impossibly hard, and clearly not worth bothering with, and people should quit bothering him with trivia because he had Important Things to Think.

I paraphrase. Though it shouldn't be hard to find. (Here.)

I think he's written some quite good books, of a certain subcategory of the genre. And he's quite bright. In certain ways, as we all are.

GF: I think he's written some quite good books,...

His Uplift series is brilliant. If what they describe isn't how the millions of races that populate the universe work, well, by God, it should be like that. And as a recent article I read indicates that scientists are working on geneticly modified chimps that have speech capibility, then we're certainly on our way to galactic citizenhood.

Ahem. Sorry, geeky scifi threadjack. Back to the oat-loving pacificist Quakers.

"just wanted to let the blogosphere know how cool you[hilzoy] are."

The blogosphere is catching on. Speaking of geeky sci-fi threadjacks, I keep wanting to as about a guy first-named Hannes, but it is a very idle curiosity.

"I keep wanting to as about a guy first-named Hannes, but it is a very idle curiosity."

Oh, should I mention stuff about friends' contacts with Mr. Bok, or finding some originals in a used book store?

I have a variety of fanzines that had original art from him in circulations of only a couple of hundred copies. A master. (You'd likely also enjoy a Boskone Art Show, or, better, a Worldcon's, which tend to have historical retrospectives; all originals, of course, from everyone's private collections.)

I guess only in an open thread, if there's frowning on thread drift going on (although, FWIW, it goes on about me all the time, and I've never thought to complain; I was brought up in a different tradition on Usenet, but, of course, this isn't Usenet).

Oops.

as a recent article I read indicates that scientists are working on geneticly modified chimps that have speech capibility, then we're certainly on our way to galactic citizenhood.

Perhaps, and there's this which hilzoy picked up. Why do I have this sinking suspicion we are going to be like the majority of those species described in the series and not the thinking out of the box types that Brin portrays us as?

"Perhaps, and there's this "

Pretty well debunked, that was. It's about 80% crap. If you stop and think for a moment, even with no clue whatever about such programs, tell me how a dolphin fires a dart, toxic or otherwise?

Didn't we discuss that this was nonsense on this blog?

Oh, yeah, I'm right. (Well, of course.) LJ, check the last comment on the ObWings thread you just cited.

"[A]as a recent article I read indicates that scientists are working on geneticly modified chimps that have speech capibility, then we're certainly on our way to galactic citizenhood."

I couldn't get into the Uplift books. I think I didn't like any of the characters.

"Genetically modified talking animals" makes me think of Cordwainer Smith's underpeople stories - and that outcome seems more likely to me than the uplift model.

On topic: The distinction between the FBI spying on Quakers, vegans, et al., and Bush's illegal wiretaps, strikes me as a meaningless one.

One, Bush has already broken the law, and stated outright he intends to continue doing so.

Two, he has already allowed, or approved, or ordered the FBI to spy on individuals and groups which have nothing to do with terrorism.

Therefore, believing he hasn't already, or won't, allow, approve, or order the NSA to wiretap individuals and groups which have nothing to do with terrorism is a leap of faith tantamount to stepping off a cliff and hoping you'll grow wings before you go splat.

Quakers are the radical extremist wing of Christianity: it's a mystery to me how they've acquired and retained their cover identity as cute harmless fluffy bunnies.

Hmmm...Nixon, as a cute fluffy bunny? I'm not seeing it.

As a general comment, I'm thinking that history repeats, and sometimes more frequently than one might imagine.

Not offering that as vindication of this or damnation of that other thing, just offering it in a sort of wonder at how odd life is in politics. Maybe it's just this country, but I'm thinking we're all weird.

Slarti: "I'm thinking we're all weird."

Speaking only of and for myself, I agree ;)

Thanks Gary, I just remembered the thread and didn't participate on it. Only so many hours in a day.

As a general comment, I'm thinking that history repeats, and sometimes more frequently than one might imagine. (link to Cato Institute)

Gee, I wonder how much the writer got paid for that one? ;^)

"...is a leap of faith tantamount to stepping off a cliff and hoping you'll grow wings before you go splat."

Good thing for me that I didn't get anywhere close to that cliff, or make any such argument.

Not having seen Hilzoy respond (she's been understandably busy in other threads, she probably stopped reading when the sf comments hit, and I hear she has a life, too), I noticed with interest that Howard Kurtz demonstrated the right way to make the argument, without erroneous conflation:

I bring all this up, of course, because of the furious debate over the warrantless NSA eavesdropping. Just as White House officials insist the program is tightly focused on potential terrorists, Pentagon and FBI spokesmen maintain that they are not investigating or interfering with legitimate political dissent.

But PETA? Vegans? Catholic Workers? No wonder there's considerable skepticism.

Perfectly easy to do: makes the point, while noting the fact that we're talking about similar -- but different -- but similar! -- things done by different agencies.

Gary, Hilzoy responded fairly clearly when she said More responding to Arkin, on what "the government" is doing.

Arkin made an assertion about what "the government" was not doing, and Hilzoy pointed out that "the government" was indeed doing that. If you look extremely closely it may be apparent that when Arkin wrote "the government" he meant "the NSA," but it was at the very least careless writing and Hilzoy was right to call him on it. "The government" includes more than "The NSA." If Arkin can't be bothered to make that distinction, I don't see why Hilzoy is obliged to make it for him.

(It's also worth noting that Arkin's quotation of the NY Times is drastically out of context; the original NY Times editorial read "The intelligence agency already had the capacity to read your mail and your e-mail and listen to your telephone conversations. All it had to do was obtain a warrant from a special court created for this purpose." It doesn't in fact suggest spying on domestic political opponents; 'you' is being used as a variable.)

Quakers: Evil incarnate.
Ever wonder where we get the word "earthquake" from? Huh? Ever think about WHY we have earthquakes?

All that dancing on the fault lines.

You are so clueless.
:)

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