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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bush has admitted to spying on a number of American citizens.

I'm sure we've all read the news about it, seen it on Meet the Press, Fox News, CNN, other major network news programs, and a handful of people even saw it in MSNBC. I find this disturbing on a couple of levels.

First, from everything I've read, the Judiciary branch of the federal government was not involved. I have very little problem with this, as long as it meets the typical standards to get a search warrant, which, by definition, requires the intercession of a judge. I'm not even particularly bothered by the fact that such surveillance was done without the notification of the parties involved. This is nothing new, as evidenced by RICO cases and the investigation of various organized crime syndicates. Furthermore, the resources needed to track the communications of even one individual and those they contact, while remaining covert, necessitate the expenditure of more money and resources than would make this feasible for wide-scale use. This, combined with the involvement of the Judiciary, would provide a reasonable and, more importantly, legal means to do so while affording minuscule interference with the civil rights of the public at large, if not outright preserving them.

Second, I am deeply disturbed by the national security consequences of the revelation of some of the means with which intelligence data are gathered. This is something I find troublesome at best, as it affords those who would do the nation harm the information to counteract legitimate intelligence-gathering and anti-organized crime operations. Furthermore, I have serious concerns that the benefits of the revelation of this program will not outweigh the cost in future intelligence-gathering and anti-organized crime capabilities. Intelligence and counterintelligence operations have been part and parcel of statecraft for millennia and will likely continue to remain so.

On a completely unrelated note, there is a very interesting RICO case currently working its way through the courts: a countersuit filed in response to Atlantic v. Anderson against the RIAA. If substantiated, I join at least some of the commenters on that thread in hoping that criminal charges are filed against the companies involved.

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