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A Faerie's Farthing

Flitting through the internets looking for sparkly bits. All content mine and not to be reproduced without permission.

Location: All Material Copyrighted, United States

Friday, December 16, 2005

So Orwell Was a Few Years Off

So Orwell Was a Few Years Off

But in substance, he was spot on.

"Parsons was Winston's fellow employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the thought police, the stability of the Party depended." —pg 22

That could easily be Scotty or Rove.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to your, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?…The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness." —Syme, pg 46-47

We understand that all too well...

"In Oceania at the present day, Science, in the old sense, has almost ceased to exist. In Newspeak there is no word for 'Science.' The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc." —pg 159

We've got that covered, too. With this week's news of shrubya's domestic spying program, I hardly think the book qualifies as fiction anymore. No, really; Big Brother is watching, with the full blessing of the preznit.

President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night.

The disclosure follows angry demands by lawmakers earlier in the day for a congressional inquiry into whether the monitoring by the highly secretive National Security Agency violated civil liberties.

“There is no doubt that this is inappropriate,” declared Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Inappropriate?" Try "illegal" or "impeachable." I don't care what John Yoo says; any program that leaves wolves guarding the henhouse is a bad idea.

The official said that since October 2001, the program has been renewed more than three dozen times.

...At each review, government officials have provided a fresh assessment of the terrorist threat, showing that there is a catastrophic risk to the country or government
, the official said.

“Only if those conditions apply do we even begin to think about this,” he said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the intelligence operation.

"Trust us...we would never abuse these powers." Yes; they would never overhype the security situation or falsely elevate the terror alerts or anything. Goodness no! Have we even had one since the election? Maybe Chertoff doesn't know how to run the "terralert" machine.

The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.

...The level is raised if a majority on the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council favors it and President Bush concurs. Among those on the council with Ridge were Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI chief Robert Mueller, CIA director George Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

So which government officials were providing these terror threat assessments to justify domestic surveillance? It certainly seems in character for Rummy and Ashcroft. Larry Johnson's money is on Bolton. The MSNBC article hints that Dick Cheney and Andrew Card might be involved. In short, it's all the usual suspects.

The surveillance, disclosed in Friday’s New York Times, is said to allow the agency to monitor international calls and e-mail messages of people inside the United States. But the paper said the agency would still seek warrants to snoop on purely domestic communications — for example, Americans’ calls between New York and California.

“I want to know precisely what they did,” said Specter. “How NSA utilized their technical equipment, whose conversations they overheard, how many conversations they overheard, what they did with the material, what purported justification there was.”

That's a really good question, seeing as how the official in question refused to give examples of the program's success. Specter has promised to hold hearings early next year. With any luck, they'll interfere with and delay Alito's nomination hearings!

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said, “This shocking revelation ought to send a chill down the spine of every American.”

Even worse, though, is the fact that the NYT sat on this story. For a year, including through the election. Worse still, Dana Rohrbacher is actually defending the practice, telling us we should be proud of and grateful to shrubya for violating our civil rights! Chills down the spine and blood 'a boiling. This is definitely a week that will live in infamy.

Do read the msnbc article; McCain takes the milquetoast award: Sen. John McCain said he wanted to know exactly what is going on before deciding whether an investigation is called for. “Theoretically, I obviously wouldn’t like it,” he said of the program.

What a maverick, that guy!

I also highly recommend reading the whole diary by SusanG at dkos.There are lots of wonderful analyses in the comments. Aravosis as well - he makes the excellent point that nothing should happen with the Patriot Act until this spying issue is resolved. Good Call!


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