Friday, December 20, 2013

Verdict: NSA's Massive Surveillance Is Illegal and Doesn't Work. Congress: So What?

NSA: How big is too big, how much is too much?

My headline is by way of a prediction: The NSA will largely be left intact, with little or no curtailment of operations or limits placed on what they can do to whom, regardless of the constitutional questions surrounding its practices. Why?

Simple. Dick Cheney pushed an idea -- later driven home by the Ron Suskind book, The One Percent Doctrine -- that if there's a one-percent chance of something bad happening, we should go all out to stop it. We just can't take chances!

That would be the equivalent of finding out that a Bolivian may be planning an attack on the U.S., so let's lock up all Bolivians for the foreseeable future. Check.

If there's a one-percent chance -- or a needle-in-a-haystack's chance -- that someone who used a phone might later do something bad, and we could have possibly, however unlikely, uncovered it, then we have an obligation to snoop into everything to avoid missing some bit of information somewhere that might have prevented it.

Again, that's like placing GPS devices in all cars to track all of them because someone might steal one of them. Actually, that makes more sense than saving forever the billions of bits of data we're collecting daily.

Anyway, the White House and Congress will almost definitely not limit the NSA. In fact, I'd put my money on Congress passing a bill -- and the president signing it -- that is called the NSA Accountability Act, which in fact gives the NSA more powers to do things more secretly only except more judges will keep an eye on them secretly without ever stopping them from snooping everywhere.

Thanks, Dick Cheney, thanks a lot. (With special kudos to enablers like Senator Dianne Feinstein.)

If it keeps America safe -- torture, limitless snooping, riot police and a Bradley
armored vehicle in every hamlet -- then Dick Cheney is "comfortable" with it.

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