Domestic Spying: Don’t Email Me

The-Patriot-Act.jpg

At the recommendation of Rewrite, two nights ago I listened to a podcast of the Bill Moyer’s Journal on domestic surveillance and wiretapping. With the renewal of the FISA Act’s domestic surveillance policies by Congress, the White House continues to have carte blanche to intercept all email correspondence, listen into phone calls, etc. of US citizens when communicating abroad. And this can all be done without a warrant (essentially a warrantless search against what is proscribed by the US Constitution and its jurisprudence). In other words, if you are US citizen and want to send me an email or call me on the phone and you don’t think the government should be listening, then don’t contact me.

Not only would these communications apply to emailing me, but would also include the following:

Civil Liberties.jpg

  • An email sent from a US soldier in Iraq to his girlfriend back home.
  • A phone call from a US study abroad student to her parents in the US.
  • A US doctor traveling abroad who calls a patient in the US.

How about a conversation between a lawyer and his client?

After 9/11, President Bush declared a state of emergency and both the Congress and Judiciary have agreed that the US is at war. Once again, this state of war gives the US president (be it Bush or the next president) incredibly broad and unchecked powers to act without Congressional or Judicial oversight to ensure the nation’s defense. Because it is so hard to say exactly who the US is at war with, the US is having a field day. We can launch our own Christian jihad against the Muslim world, increase our military spending, and secure the world oil supply all at the same time while we do them all under the dual euphemism of “spreading democracy” and protecting our national borders. The problem is that a theoretical war against “terror” is “theoretical” and can theoretically last ad infinitum.

To be free.jpg

In the meantime, the government gets a free looksie at my phone calls and emails. My only doubt here is technical. To what extent is an email actually territorial? If I have an email address that was created in the US (or through a US based email provider), is an email sent between two US email addresses, even if one of the emails is sent while abroad, considered an intra-American or an international communication? Aren’t electronic file exchanges broken down into small parts and sent through various channels before being reunited at the final destination? That means that an email can be sent and leave traces in various jurisdictions in its path. And although the government says that it still needs a warrant for purely domestic communications, do we take its word for the fact that it’s not listening?

The authorities claim that when they receive correspondence between a grandson abroad and his grandmother back home, they will isolate that information, not pay attention to it, and destroy it. They shouldn’t have to stop listening for terrorists because they end up overhearing your personal conversations. Well, let’s just take their word for it. It’s the American way.

Let’s just hope they don’t misinterpret something they read or hear, lock me up at the border, refuse to allow me to be represented by counsel, review the evidence against me, or communicate with the outside world. That would be a real bummer, a necessary one to protect our great nation, but a total bummer.

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19 Comments

Filed under Essays

19 responses to “Domestic Spying: Don’t Email Me

  1. And although the government says that it still needs a warrant for purely domestic commuincations, do we take its word for the fact that its is not listening?

    He is ill clothed that is bare of virtue.

    Benjamin Franklin

    Hmmm, I think we should call the Maha Rushie and ask him. Everyone knows he’s on the level and only gives impartial and unbiased information.

    Well, let’s just take their word for it. It’s the American way.

    He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.

    Benjamin Franklin

    Of course. Every government only has the citizen’s best interests in mind, at all times. Why question the government?

    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

    Benjamin Franklin

    [/exit sheeplemind.exe]

    He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.

    Benjamin Franklin

    P.S. America fell from being a great country with our Grandfather’s generation. No, it won’t return to being one either.

    In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

    Benjamin Franklin

    May the Republic burn, in glorious revolution.

  2. ReWrite

    Eric, excellent post!

    I have been trying to tell you about Bill Moyers Journal for months. It is pretty badass.

    Even better than Bill Moyers Journal is “Frontline” not to be confused w/ its cousin Frontline/World which is good, but not quite the same.

    I also recommend checking out Wide Angle (you will like the (not to mention my crush on Daljit Dhaliwal- the host); there is also Independent Lens; P.O.V. and NOW.

    And I loved the cartoons in the post as well.

  3. eric

    What is particularly bothersome is that any emails that I send or receive that even mention politics will more than likely be reviewed under FISA. And I think that most Americans who live abroad are more politically aware than those at home because what the US does internationally affects us more on a daily basis, so it only natural that we discuss these issues with our friends and family. Why that gives that government a free wiretap on us, I don’t fully understand.

  4. Bushie thinks cugino supports “Da Terra” … LMMFAOROTFLMMFAO …

    Absurdity is fun, isn’t it?

  5. eric

    It’s a necessary absurdity that leads me back time and time again to the Ubuntu post.

  6. ReWrite

    I don’t think they filter emails. I think they read them all. My friend, who formerly work at the NSA, said that even before 9/11 the understanding was do whatever you gotta do, just don’t get caught, particularly w/electronic surveillance they didn’t distinguish between citizen or none; or try to get the FISA warrant. He said, you can’t exactly tell if an email account is registered to a citizen or not. And then after 9/11 he said not only did give everyone a green light to do whatever they wanted, but there was an immense amount of pressure to find something (anything).

    And that is why we ended up with over 2,000 immigrants held in indefinite detention (for having Jihad materials- the Koran) just in the first year after 9/11; US Citizens held indefinitely as material witnesses (for having a similar name); US citizen labeled as enemy combatants and held in legal limbo (for doing who knows what)…. and this is just the domestic shit. Gotta love those good ol’ Christian leaders of the free world.

  7. Yes, the Christian leaders are an anathema, where as Jihadists who behead innocent reporters and women, and use their own children to secure passage past checkpoints, and set off a car bomb with the children still in the car are …. “righteous”.

    FLOF, get a useful perspective.

  8. ReWrite formerly TheCommentKiller

    First of all the leaders in the US are not an anathema. They were all elected. Most Americans support the policies listed above. Their elected representatives approved an expansion of domestic spying in August of 2007. The terror the US has sanctioned since 2001 has not been committed by a few bad apples (as they would have us believe) but is state sponsored, by the “largest democratic gov’t in the world.”

    Whereas as the “Jihadists” allegations you list are actions of desperate isolationists.

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” JFK.

    And i wouldn’t be so quick to judge. What would isolationists in the US do if a foreign superpower invaded, occupied, pillaged and refused to leave the US?

  9. Ah yes, the glorious rationalised justification argument, completely devoid of reason.

    So now, in your political estimation, murder is equivocal, dependent upon personal bias?

    Not withstanding, those aren’t allegations, they are recorded events. Jihadists are not “isolated” operatives, they are from large scale guerrilla organisations. Jihad is also “sponsored” by militant Islamic leaders, clerics and Imams, and funded by so called “moderates”.

    JFK was a moron and notable scumbag politician, as if anything else could be stated of a Kennedy. Revolution creates rebellion, rebellion is understood by even the most idiotic of political commentators, such as Marx, to be a violent action.

    The difference with the U.S. is that it wouldn’t be an isolationist movement, it would be a most certain near totalitarian uprising. As you so consistently point out, we Americans are a violent and barbaric lot.

    I’m still waiting for you to get a useful perspective.

  10. ReWrite formerly TheCommentKiller

    Yes my perspective often does not line up with much of America, particularly middle America.

    I certainly do not embrace killing innocent people under any circumstances, but i am slow to rush to judgment on some of the actions of people you would refer to as “Jihadists.” I was not born and do not live in Iraq, so i try not to judge the people on the ground living through foreign occupation.

    That being said, and particularly on a day like today, I do not support terrorism of any kind.

    However, I am comfortable judging US policies related domestic spying, detention and other forms of state sanctioned civil liberty violations… as they affect me and i have represented clients who have fallen victim to these policies.

  11. I “refer” to them as Jihadists because that is what they themselves claim to be.

    Also of note, most of the seriously violent individuals in Iraq, are not Iraqi citizens.
    What excuse do you have for that? What excuse do you have for those Muslims, who when trying to target our military, usually incur more civilian casualties than military casualties?

    As for the policies of this country, I can find almost no citizen who is in agreement with them. The only proponents seem to be those paid to be so, such as slanted media, or members of political regime responsible.

    What’s even more humorous, is the fact that the socialist slant you place on everything, is also a major player in this scenario, although I am more than certain you would find a way to rationalise that out of the context. Not many steps left to a police state oligarchic socialism. When Hillary takes the vote, you will find out, first hand, exactly how diabolical socialism is, and realise far too late the oppression of an elitist run police state.

    The entire turnover will take roughly a decade, but the effects will be quite “tangible”, so to speak.

    The beauty of taking the time to understand history, is that you are not only aware, due to the gracious dissemination of those who lived through those times, of its eventuality, but also of the precursors in step.

    Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried.

    Sir Winston Churchill

    Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few.

    David Hume

    An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.

    Confucius

    While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill – little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago

    John Adams

    The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.

    James Madison

    Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Socrates

    But do not feel you should abate your rationalisations.

    History never repeats, and Rome is still our greatest adversary. Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.

  12. eric

    Who knows where the people are from. All we get is what the news and the government tell us.

    What is true is that Iraq was a secular nation with little or no sectarian violence, albeit under a totalitarian government, and is now one of the most dangerous places on earth. The most obvious factor traceable to the violence is the US invasion. But this is all for another post.

    Here what I find really interesting from Rewrites previous comment is that the US government really has no way of distinguishing between one type of email communication and another. Thus, it can act freely as both a national and international Big Brother, spying on intranational, transnational and international communications regardless of where they come from.

  13. ReWrite

    James isn’t is somewhat ontradictory to find greater fault with the “Jihadists” (and again i do not support any form of terrorism- which i define as the killing of innocent people) than the US gov’t who you believe masterminded 9/11?

    And for the record I don’t claim to be a socialist, nor do i affiliate myself with institution that might limit my thoughts, affliations, communications or patriotic status.

    That being said, H. Clinton is anything but a true socialist. She is just as obsessed w/ pvt ownership property as the current president; and she is only slightly more interested in distributing wealth than the current administration. until a candidate rejects pvt monies they will all be slaves to the corporations that put them in power.

    And did you guys happen to watch “Wide Angle” on PBS last night? It was

  14. James isn’t is somewhat ontradictory to find greater fault with the “Jihadists” (and again i do not support any form of terrorism- which i define as the killing of innocent people) than the US gov’t who you believe masterminded 9/11?

    Where did I state “greater fault”? I believe as I said to Eric, thrash equally or not at all. It just seems to me that there is a “convenient amnesia” with regards to the fact that terrorism in the name of Jihad has been occurring all over the globe, in any and every year of my existence where I had the ability to pay attention.

    None are blameless is the point, and although you like to tout the “Christian” leanings of the current regime, and especially that those leanings are the motive behind the agenda, I would suggest inquiring with your sister as to whether or not his pronouncements meet with what an actual Christian understands of being “faithful in service”.

    From my Christian friends, the answer is unilaterally, and definitively, no. They call him a liar, just like I do. Most go as far as to say he is an abomination against Yeshua and his teachings.

  15. P.S. I didn’t state the U.S. Government “masterminded” anything, that creates an exigency of high intellect, of which, they are obviously bereft. They did what they always do, using Pearl Harbor as an example: take advantage of the information they have, to ensure that their power remains absolute.

    That’s difference between conspiracy and understanding motivations of historical human behavior: one has no backing, the other, is a logically/factually supported position.

  16. eric

    James,

    That would be my reading of it also, as in the next post.

  17. ReWrite

    You may have a point that there are Christians in America that no longer support the Bush Administration (and there are even Christians that never support the Bush Administration). Just like the Camden 28 (featured on PBS’s P.O.V. last night) who were Christians and aggressive civil disobedience activists against the Vietnam war.

    As far as Chrissy goes, I’d rather not speak for her and I have not asked her, in a long time, if she supports the Bush Administration. But I would venture to guess that generally does. Who cares, why does all of this inductive reasoning matter? The man was elected (twice).

    Bush has expressly interjected Christian fundamentalism into policies that is all that matters. One could be a leader of a nation of Hindus and still have all Christian policies.

  18. You may have a point that there are Christians in America that no longer support the Bush Administration (and there are even Christians that never support the Bush Administration). Just like the Camden 28 (featured on PBS’s P.O.V. last night) who were Christians and aggressive civil disobedience activists against the Vietnam war.

    Any Christian who supports Bushie, does so out of aberrant agenda, or plain ignorance. Thus their credibility for Christian piety, is largely questionable.

    As far as Chrissy goes, I’d rather not speak for her and I have not asked her, in a long time, if she supports the Bush Administration. But I would venture to guess that generally does. Who cares, why does all of this inductive reasoning matter? The man was elected (twice).

    I wonder sometimes if you even bother to read my words. I didn’t say speak for her, I clearly stated that you should inquire of her.

    Apparently, at least in your estimation, his pronouncements of Christian faith, in conjunction with his known policy making, are a rather large part of your displeasure with his “service”. (I’ll give on the point he is a rather expensive tart, and his service leaves you wanting … just not more of him.) 😉

    Bush has expressly interjected Christian fundamentalism into policies that is all that matters. One could be a leader of a nation of Hindus and still have all Christian policies.

    Absurdity .. BOOOOOOYAAAAHHHHH.

    You and Eric are great, I spend all my time on this blog with a philochubby … thanks for that amici!!! You guys are great, my brainifier aches. Brain Bleach, Hooah!!!

  19. ReWrite

    my read comp skills aren’t so great. i receive more emails everyday than i know what to do with, and i generally read the first paragraph (if that) and the last… and then i proceed to ask them questions which are usually answered in those in between paragraphs.

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