Eavesdropping, Wiretapping, and the NSA? Oh My!

From Sparktographys Flickr stream.  Licensed under the Creative Commons.

From Sparktography's Flickr stream. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

My life is a fairly constant fight between the uber-paranoid, conspiracy theory prone part of my brain and the slightly more rational, grad-school educated part.  For a long time I’d sort of known that the US was wiretapping sort of illegally but I kind of assumed that it was a letter of the law v. spirit of the law thing…  (This might have been because I only have so much outrage to go around and I’ve been awfully busy feeling outraged about how my uterus is turning into a ballot box.  But you know all about that, don’t you?)

Anyway, so you can imagine the reallocation of outrage required when I came upon a series of stories in the mainstream press as well as a few blogs about the NSA program “Operation Highlander.”  Seriously America?  Journalists?  Aid Workers?  Really?  I don’t feel any safer now than I did before you all started doing this.  Plus, now I feel less secure in my privacy rights.  All in all, I’d say net-loss on this one guys and gals.

Rather than poorly rehash all the opinion out there, I’ll just quote this email alert from the ACLU stating:

It is outrageous that service men and women and international aid workers have had their private conversations needlessly and wantonly invaded by our government.

That is why the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Congress’s expansion of the NSA’s surveillance authority under the FISA Amendments Act is so critical. Our case, Amnesty International v. McConnell — brought on behalf of an impressive array of journalists, human rights organizations and lawyers — shines a spotlight on the devastating effect of unchecked spying power on Americans doing indispensable work around the globe.

To be fair (and also to justify my initial knee-jerk reaction followed by only a simmering level of discomfort), there is some debate about whether or not the program ABC reports on is actually focused on identifying terrorists or is simply working on collecting intelligence in a theatre of war.  While I’m sympathetic to claims that in war, and whether we like it or not we’re at war in the Middle East, there is a certain degree of government eavesdropping I am not sure that espionage and intelligence gathering require a sustained program of eavesdropping on journalists and groups like Doctors without Borders.  Of course, we’ll never really know what went on– both whistle blowers are now deeply involved in the anti-war movement and this administration consistently refuses to acknowledge anything ever.  I’m uncomfortable with this program, and am looking forward to what the ACLU’s case can ferret out about it…

Sheish…  Nov. 4 can’t get here soon enough.  The kind of outrage I’m having to muster in the months leading up to this is absurd.  I honestly am about to exhaust myself.  This must be what happens, we all get super pissed but can’t quite maintain that level of anger so we all just go “eh… it is expected.”  Doesn’t make it okay, but rationing my outrage is a lot harder than it might seem.

Also, I can only give so much money to charity and Planned Parenthood has my major attention at the moment… so, you know, ACLU you’re going to have to do this one without my financial backing (all $25 of it) and my only slightly-warmer than tepid support.  It isn’t that I feel like this is okay, it’s just that I’m prioritizing my anger, you know?

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