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January 04, 2006
They're Actually Doing It

They're reading your mail.

That is, they are if you're an 81 year-old professor of Asian history at the University of Kansas.

I do have to admit that I prefer that my opened mail have been obviously opened, as he experienced, and not unobtrusively opened as he cites the Japanese having done.

I know a bit about the whole topic from various readings about the Cold War. I know it's more than possible to open mail so that no one knows it's been done. (Back in the days of tissue-thin "air mail" paper, you didn't even have to open the envelope to read the letter.)

But that isn't really the point. The point is that someone that no rational person would believe connected with any kind of terrorism has had his privacy inexcusably invaded.

Unusually for her, Molly Ivins misses the point. When Bush says that "this program is conscious of people's civil liberties, as am I", he's probably not lying.

There's a huge gap between "being conscious of" and "protecting" or even "giving a shit about."

But read her column anyhow because she always says things we need to hear. Like, we need to remember that librarians are not gentle, book-loving souls, but radical extremists.

Another reason to be deeply worried about a huge domestic spying operation is that it will inevitably be manned by nincompoops. Just take, for example, this lovely 2003 memo from an FBI agent railing at what he perceived as the dreadful restraints by John Ashcroft's Justice Department: "While radical militant librarians kicks us around, true terrorists benefit from (Justice's) failure to let us the tools given to us."

The mind...boggles.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:05 PM