Ma è curioso osservare i diversi modi in cui le diverse amministrazioni – soprattutto di destra – interpretano l’applicazione degli strumenti a disposizione, intercettazioni incluse. Il caso della Svezia e della sua politica di intercettazione selvaggia l’ha fatto emergere in questi giorni Newsline con i suoi puntuali interventi, ma negli Stati Uniti la Camera (e ora si appresta a farlo il Senato) ha approvato una bozza di emendamento alla Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act che rappresenterebbe un condono tombale per tutte le Telco che nel 2006 hanno risposto come tanti soldatini (Qwest è stata l’unica a rifiutarsi e ora rischia di passare per antipatriottica) all’ordine della National Security Agency: spiare senza mandato della magistratura le comunicazioni di milioni di americani, presumibilmente innocenti e del tutto ignari, in modo da poter stilare il “profilo” dei potenziali terroristi.
Consiglio la lettura del commento di Robert Cringely su Infoworld. Quando si tratta di salvaguardare la sicurezza dei propri concittadini, evidentemente l’amico Dabliu non la pensa esattamente come l’amico Seelvio. E probabilmente l’amico Seelvio piacerebbe a Cringely. Che paradossi, eh?
Uncle Spy Wants You
Last week the House of Representatives passed a “compromise” amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, though it sounds like the only things that have been compromised are our Constitutional rights. Now the Senate is poised to do the same.
Unfortunately, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 adds little to existing FISA laws save for one very big thing: immunity for telecoms that violated FISA laws on orders from the White House. Essentially, all Ma Bell and her bastard offspring need to do is present a note that says Uncle Sam made them do it, and the 40-odd lawsuits pending against them vanish.
This rewards companies like AT&T and Verizon that failed to stand up to orders of questionable legality, while punishing companies like Qwest who declined the government’s requests. Imagine the cojones it took to say no to the NSA. What are the odds anyone’s likely to do that again?
Remember, three Bush appointees — attorney general John Ashcroft, deputy AG James Comey, and FBI head Robert Mueller — threatened to resign over this program. So this is clearly not a matter of the NSA forgetting to pick up a few subpoenas on the way home from the grocery store. This was something no one had seen before.
But what exactly was it? The worst thing about the immunity provision is that it closes the door on discovery. We will likely never find out what information the NSA sought, what it found, and what that data was used for. That’s a problem.
It’s very likely the spooks were involved in a massive data mining operation that involved data from millions of innocent non-terrorist law-abiding Americans. Think I’m being paranoid? Here’s what USA Today revealed in May 2006:
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
In other words, they’re attempting to create a profile of terrorists, and the only way to do that is to profile a whole lot of non terrorists. And if they happen to catch anyone doing anything else borderline illegal along the way, they can pick and choose whom they want to prosecute. Why should China and Russia have all the fun?
I’m all for hunting down and ferreting out the bad guys, but I draw the line at spying on ordinary Americans. I’m happy to stand in line at the airport or the baseball stadium and have them look through my bags, even though I know it’s mostly Security Theater. My phone calls, emails, and Web surfing are another story. If I’m a suspect and you’ve got a warrant, fine, spy on me. Otherwise, I’d like to be left alone. Is that unreasonable?