It isn’t too often I find myself in such complete disagreement with Mark Steyn. He’s one of those guys that if I do disagree with him, I read him again because I must have missed something the first time. But on the NSA collecting data on MY phone calls, he’s just wrong.
Likewise, Richard Falkenrath is also wrong and dangerously ignorant in his Op/Ed which ran in the Washington Post.
On Thursday, USA Today reported that three U.S. telecommunications companies have been voluntarily providing the National Security Agency with anonymized domestic telephone records — that is, records stripped of individually identifiable data, such as names and place of residence. If true, the architect of this program deserves our thanks and probably a medal. That architect was presumably Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and President Bush’s nominee to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The potential value of such anonymized domestic telephone records is best understood through a hypothetical example. …
Let’s dispel a myth right here and now. There is no such thing as anonymized data. Period. If you don’t believe me, type your phone number into google and see what you get. (and be sure to follow the link where you can even see your house on satellite imagery) Bouncing your phone number off another database to learn who you are is trivial. You just did it with google.
That Richard Falkenrath used the term 6 times in his Op/Ed insults thinking people everywhere. If the data truly was “anonymized” what would be the point collecting it? You can’t (without torturing logic outside the bounds of the Geneva convention) say the data is both “anonymized” and also invaluable in tracking terrorists.
“But there are safeguards in place… blah blah blah… The data can’t be… blah blah blah”
Anyone on the right who thinks this is a good idea should be disabused of that notion by 3 simple words. “President Hillary Clinton.” Ask yourself… Do you really trust the Clinton’s with this data. — That’s the problem with bad policy. Even if you trust George Bush and his administration today and you really believe it is only being used to catch terrorists, bad policy has a way of sticking with government forever. And only getting worse with time.
Since Richard Falkenrath wants to use hypothetical examples, here’s mine.
Some idiot staffer in the Hillary Whitehouse gets pissed at Wizbang. He has a pal pull Kevin’s phone records and the IRS comes knocking on every Wizbanger’s door 30 days later.
Don’t think it can happen? If you don’t, then you are both hopelessly naive and ignorant of history.
In creating policy, the decision must be made if the potential good outweighs the potential bad. To paraphrase Paul “Bear” Bryant (or was it Vince Lombardi?), Destroying basic civil liberties is more bad then stopping terrorists is good.*
No, the simple act of putting this information into another database is not inherently bad. But the potential for misuse is astounding. History has taught us that this much information in the hands of government will be misused. It is the natural order of things. I thought we on the right understood that. Perhaps we’re so used to protecting this administration and our beliefs from idiotic charges from the left that when there is something we should disagree with we lose sight. I can’t reconcile how anyone who claims to be a supporter of smaller goverment supports this program.
The goals of this program are laudable. As are most roads to Hell. But this program is not a solution to the terrorism problem, it is only the creation of many future problems and it should be eliminated.
* In part 2, I’ll discuss more of the upside and downside potentials of this program and my take will be so unpopular I’ll probably get death threats. (I might not be kidding) Don’t miss it.
AND Note: I agree with the recording of *suspects* in this country (the first NSA phone scandal) but I don’t agree with monitoring of everyday citizens. Call me stuck on the 4th amendment.