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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Phoning it in

The questions raised by the latest "domestic terrorist surveillance" revelation (that means you and me, by the way) is less about the actual data released than the act itself and what it symbolizes.

Only computers can love billions of phone numbers and on its own the data is quite harmless. That of course, gives the Constitution-bending Bushies the small opening the need to grotesquely violate the privacy of millions of Americans and teeter up to the edge of breaking both the 4th and 5th amendments in this non-lawyer's view.

We're all familiar with data-mining. It's the largest source of junk mail, annoying phone call and e-mails. In the wrong hands, like say the NSA's, it can lead to massive intrusions on privacy. Just how hard is it to match a name and a phone number in any online reverse directory?

It's frightening when only one telephone company executive sees a problem with this massive information grab. More troubling is whether anyone in Congress will see a problem.

Coming on top of the earlier revelations (and wordsmithing) about the surveillance of "international" phone calls, it's not surprising "conservatives" are howling about leaking valuable national security information.

That weak defense is the only thing they can come up with to explain this massive intrusion of government into the lives of private citizens. That and fear-mongering about terrorists and immigrants, of course -- more on that shortly).

Arlen, you keep promising hearings up the wazoo. It's time to put up or shut up.

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