Thursday, September 18, 2008

"I believe in treating mules gentle...."

"... but first you gotta get their attention."

So said the farmer as he picked up a 2X4 and whacked ol' Bessie upside the head.

Glenn Greenwald delivers a roundhouse blow with a big fat hickory baseball bat to the empty noggins of RW foamer battalions in this fine post, and yet there seems to be an infestation of RW foamers that still don't "get it".

From Glenn's post:

The same political faction which today is prancing around in full-throated fits of melodramatic hysteria and Victim mode (their absolute favorite state of being) over the sanctity of Sarah Palin's privacy are the same ones who scoffed with indifference as it was revealed during the Bush era that the FBI systematically abused its Patriot Act powers to gather and store private information on thousands of innocent Americans; that Homeland Security officials illegally infiltrated and monitored peaceful, law-abiding left-wing groups devoted to peace activism, civil liberties and other political agendas disliked by the state; and that the telephone calls of journalists and lawyers have been illegally and repeatedly monitored.

And the same Surveillance State Worshipper leading today's screeching -- Michelle Malkin -- spent the last several years deriding those who objected to the President's illegal spying program as "privacy crusaders" and "constitutional absolutists" and "civil liberties absolutists".

Shouldn't these same people be standing up today and insisting that if Sarah Palin has done nothing wrong, then she should have nothing to hide? If Sarah Palin isn't committing crimes or consorting with The Terrorists, then why would she care if we can monitor her emails? And if private companies such as Yahoo can access her emails -- as they can -- then she doesn't really have any "privacy" anyway, so what's the big deal if others read through her communications, too? Isn't that the authoritarian idiocy that has been spewed since The Day That 9/11 Changed Everything -- beginning with the Constitution -- to justify vesting secret and unchecked surveillance powers in our Great and Good Leaders?

And then, even better, there is the righteous outrage over the fact that this hacker engaged in what they call [spat with whispered contempt] . . . . "illegal surveillance." Why, whoever broke into Palin's Yahoo account broke the law, and we all know that that can't be tolerated! Bill O'Reilly last night called for the FBI to arrest not only those who did the hacking, but also those who own and manage Gawker ("a despicable, slimy, scummy website"), simply for posting the emails. This is what O'Reilly said:

It's a felony -- a federal crime -- also a crime in Alaska -- to hack into people's private correspondence . . . We have no privacy left in this country anymore. The website knows the law, and says "you know -- I'm going to do it anyway. I dare you to come get me."
Indeed. What kind of grotesque monster would invade people's private communications even though they know it's illegal to do that? It's almost like this despicable criminal-hacker did something like this -- from Scott Horton's Harpers interview yesterday with The Washington Post's Barton Gellman:
For the next three months, Addington and Cheney tried to suppress a growing legal insurgency. Andy Card acknowledged to me that Bush was out of the loop. By early March, Jack Goldsmith ruled that parts of the [NSA warrantless eavesdropping] program were unlawful. Ashcroft and Comey backed him. . . .The next day, Thursday March 11, Bush renewed the program anyway. He signed new language–again written by Addington -- declaring that he, the president, was the ultimate authority on what was legal.
Notably, the people whose communications George Bush was illegally intercepting for years (with the virtually unanimous support of the authoritarian Right) were private citizens who -- unlike Sarah Palin -- had done nothing to cede their privacy, and who had not been found by any court of law to have done anything wrong or even to be suspected of wrongdoing. As despicable as I personally find the Palin hacking to be, it pales in comparison to the Bush crimes, because when someone runs for President or Vice President, they voluntarily cede vast amounts of their personal privacy, which is why they're required to disclose things like their medical records, tax returns, assocational history, and other financial documents -- all information that private Americans, at least in theory in the pre-Bush era, had the right to keep private. Those subjected to Bush's illegal surveillance programs have done nothing to cede their privacy -- other than live in a country which has decided to abolish most privacy protections.
That's clear enough for any mule to grasp. What's the problem with our RW foamers?

Here's one of the less confoozed respondents to Glenn's post, making a go of explaining just why one is bad and the other is not only Good, but Essential To The Survival Of Our Country:

Dear Editor,

First, every time you claim, in your article, that the feds have illegally surveyed people's e-mails or phones, your statement is conclusory, and you provide no factual or legal basis. This is because (you really ought to use this word more in your own writings- "because"), the loosening of the surveillance laws under the Patriot Act requires a finding of a potential threat against national security for their implementation in any given circumstance. The warrant requirements imposed on the police remain in effect as they were prior to 9/11, absent this finding. And, I highly doubt President Bush or other federal agents are surveying random e-mails for their amusement or curiosity. Obviously, the names of the individuals who encounter the Patriot Acts embrace are divulged to the federal government in some manner. In other words, the names aren’t picked out of a hat.

Second, there is an important distinction between the hacking of Palin's e-mail and the effect of the Patriot Act on ordinary citizens. Palin's e-mails were stolen and placed on the internet for the world to see. E-mails seized pursuant to national security interests are confined to the eyes of the Government officials that seize them. Now, we may disagree as to whether that distinction has meaning. However, I believe that the U.S. government has a duty to be the eyes and ears that ordinary citizens do not possess the right, nor the duty to be. I believe that the U.S. government deserves and requires a bit more privilege when it comes to intrusions into personal lives. Frankly, national security is a compelling governmental interest, and seizing individual e-mail accounts, phone records, and library records is necessary and narrowly tailored to that interest. Which is why, the argument, "If you have nothing to hide...", works in that context, because once seized, those records will be discarded if not found to be incriminating, and even the individual that was subject to the seizure, may not even be aware of the intrusion. This doesn't work in Palin's case because, the harm caused by placing them on the internet is irreversible, nor did it come close to serving a compelling governmental interest.

Sincerely,

Greg Skiff

Mr. Skiff maintains that the gummint is required to show cause for their tapping ("warrant requirements imposed on the police remain in effect, absent [a] finding [of a 'potential threat against national security']"), when in fact one big change of the recent FISA amendments was to eliminate the FISA warrant requirement and the need to show cause. In short, his facts are simply wrong here. And who does this "finding"? Why, the guys who want to do the tap!!!

He tosses in a lot of pseudo-legal crapola about "compelling governmental interest" and "narrowly tailored", but fails to show how any of that is true, even if this is indeed the appropriate measure for when we should ignore both U.S. statute and the Constitution. Not to mention he forgot the "least restrictive means" boilerplate language (he's skimping on his "talking points", I guess). There is no analysis as to why other alternatives might not be perfectly adequate to achieve any legitimate "governmental interests" here. You know, like getting a warrant?!?!?

But this phrase really sums it up: "I believe that the U.S. government has a duty to be the eyes and ears that ordinary citizens do not possess the right, nor the duty to be." Why, it's Big Brother's friggin' job to spy on us!!!

And a clue for Mr. Skiff here. The amendments were not part of the USA PATRIOT act....


Update

More lunacy from Mr. Skiff here. I destroy it here.

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