Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

Drone hunting license? Count me in!

Posted by Richard on July 18, 2013

Wow. Phillip Steel has certainly gotten a lot of media attention with the petition he’s circulated in tiny Deer Trail, CO (population 546). He already has enough signatures to put it on the ballot. The town council will consider his proposed ordinance at their Aug. 6 meeting. The ordinance would allow people to buy a drone hunting license for $25. It would pay a bounty of $25 to $100 for the downing of a US government drone over the sovereign air space of Deer Trail.

I love the idea! It’s fun and a nice fundraising vehicle for Deer Trail, but it also makes an important point.

7NEWS Reporter Amanda Kost asked Steel, “Have you ever seen a drone flying over your town?”

“No,” Steel responded. “This is a very symbolic ordinance. Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way.”

I hope they come up with a nice looking, real official drone hunting license certificate. Because I’ll buy one.

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If Sen. Graham has nothing to hide…

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2013

Blowing off the 4th Amendment, Senator Lindsey Graham (OR-SC) has defended the Obama administration’s increasingly powerful surveillance state and specifically NSA’s Prism program, arguing that if we have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t bother us that our email is being monitored. FreedomWorks is challenging Sen. Graham to “lead by example.” They’re collecting signatures on a petition requesting that the Senator release his email password. Go to www.lindseyspassword.com right now and sign. It only takes a few seconds. It costs nothing. And haven’t you always wanted to read Lindsey Graham’s email?

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The ACLU’s domestic surveillance program

Posted by Richard on August 28, 2009

No one has ever overestimated the hypocrisy and willingness to hide behind situational ethics of the American left. Michelle Malkin:

Savor the silence of America's self-serving champions of privacy. For once, the American Civil Liberties Union has nothing bad to say about the latest case of secret domestic surveillance — because it is the ACLU that committed the spying.

Last week, the Washington Post reported on a new Justice Department inquiry into photographs of undercover CIA officials and other intelligence personnel taken by ACLU-sponsored researchers assisting the defense team of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

According to the report, the pictures of covert American CIA officers — "in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes" — were shown to jihadi suspects tied to the 9/11 attacks in order to identify the interrogators.

Where is the concern for the safety of these American officers and their families? Where's the outrage from all the indignant supporters of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose name was leaked by Bush State Department official Richard Armitage to the late Robert Novak?

Lefties swung their nooses for years over the disclosure, citing federal laws prohibiting the sharing of classified information and proscribing anyone from unauthorized exposure of undercover intelligence agents.

Now, caught red-handed blowing the cover of CIA operatives, they shrug their shoulders and dismiss it as "normal" research on behalf of "our clients."

But don't you dare question their love of country. Spying to stop the next 9/11 is treason, you see. Spying to stop enhanced interrogation of Gitmo detainees is patriotic.

Well, sure. Just like dissent is the highest form of patriotism when there's a Republican president, but with a Democrat in office, dissent is the stirring up of hate and a manifestation of dangerous extremism.

 

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I’m reporting “fishy” health care information

Posted by Richard on August 6, 2009

I've decided to help the Obama administration identify the sources of "disinformation" about its plans for America's health care system. At the request of Linda Douglass (one of at least a dozen "objective" journalists who've quit shilling for the Democrats in their mainstream media jobs in order to take positions in the Obama administration doing the same thing for pay), I'm reporting Rep. Barney Frank for contradicting the President's assertion on June 15: 

What are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. … So, when you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this – they are not telling the truth.

Here's what Barney Frank told the Single Payer Action organization on July 27, when asked why not to push for a government-run single-payer system right now (emphasis added): 

Because we don’t have the votes for it. I wish we did. I think that if we get a good public option it could lead to single payer and that is the best way to reach single payer. Saying you’ll do nothing till you get single payer is a sure way never to get it. … I think the best way we’re going to get single payer, the only way, is to have a public option and demonstrate the strength of its power.

Here's the video (I'm sending a link to flag@whitehouse.gov, as Linda Douglass requested, so they can add Frank to their database of "disinformation" disseminators): 

[YouTube link]

Who knew that Barney Frank was acting on behest of "high-level Republican political operatives" and/or insurance companies?

Note: Mary Katherine Ham uncovered the complete story of the "high-level Republican political operatives" cited by the DNC ad as orchestrating all the town hall meeting protests. It turns out to be a single libertarian, Bob MacGuffie (who insists he's never voted for a Republican), and four friends who set up a website and a PAC, Right Principles, with current assets of about four grand.

Ham also reports the parts of MacGuffie's memo on what to do at a town hall meeting that the DNC ad omitted, and she has a YouTube video of MacGuffie applying his own advice when questioning his own representative, Jim Hines. You be the judge of whether this is an "orchestrated, hateful action" by a member of a mob or a perfectly reasonable thing for a citizen to do in a representative democracy.

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Dissent is no longer patriotic

Posted by Richard on August 6, 2009

Lanny Davis thinks the spontaneous chants of "Read the bill!" that have erupted at town hall meetings are "fascist" tactics, and he wants such dissidents photographed and investigated.

The White House has a dedicated email address for turning in people who say something "fishy" about its health care plan. As Sen. Cornyn observed, this looks like they're compiling an "enemies list" (emphasis added):

I am not aware of any precedent for a President asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed "fishy" or otherwise inimical to the White House's political interests.

By requesting that citizens send "fishy" emails to the White House, it is inevitable that the names, email addresses, IP addresses, and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House. You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program. As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights.

I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward emails critical of his policies to the White House. I suspect that you would have been leading the charge in condemning such a program–and I would have been at your side denouncing such heavy-handed government action.

The people who, with funding from George Soros, invented Astroturfing are trying to portray the ordinary citizens who attend Tea Parties and show up at town hall meetings as shills for the insurance industry. Barbara Boxer said she can tell they're not genuine because they're too well-dressed. I guess to be a genuine concerned citizen, you have to look like part of a Code Pink or MoveOn.org freak show. 

Meanwhile, the Prez himself is directing the troops to create a real top-down, manufactured, Astroturf response. No indication of how the mobilized army of volunteers will be dressed. 

Count on Nancy Pelosi to jump in with a shark-jumping comment reminding us that Godwin's Law still operates (emphasis added):

Interviewer: Do you think there's legitimate grassroot opposition going on here?

Pelosi: "I think they're Astroturf… You be the judge. "They're carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare."

Remember when dissent was the highest form of patriotism? When swastikas at protest rallies were all the rage? Don Surber remembers.

UPDATE: Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary who's made Scott McClellan appear competent, has assured us that Sen. Cornyn's concerns about those "fishy" emails are completely unfounded. Well, sort of

"Nobody is collecting names," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at today's the White House press briefing. "Nobody's keeping anybody's email."

Asked later by THE WEEKLY STANDARD if the White House is required by law to save all correspondence it receives, Gibbs acknowledged, "Obviously, the National Archives documents correspondence with the White House." Gibbs also said he didn't know how many emails the White House has yet received yet.

So remember: "Nobody is keeping anybody's email," except the federal government at the U.S. National Archives.

What a relief.

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Big Brother is being ripped off

Posted by Richard on July 29, 2009

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the country's most strident opponents of citizens' self-defense rights, a man who firmly believes we should forgo armed self-defense in favor of dialing 911 and/or counting on the government to always be watching out for our safety, has for some time been pushing for more and more surveillance cameras in the city.

They'd better add cameras fast, because the thieves are stealing them pretty fast:

New York, NY – Two oddballs have been busted for swiping nearly 20 percent of the city’s red-light cameras right under Big Brother’s nose.

They allegedly drove around town in a pickup truck with a cherry-picker to dismantle 22 of the high-end Nikons from their street poles.

The devices are used to identify red-light-running drivers, who then are issued tickets by mail.

The suspects peddled an estimated $88,000 worth of goods to a camera resale shop for $300 each to feed their heroin habits.

Having gobs of cameras covering public places everywhere is not really a Constitutional problem. But in spite of what TV cop shows lead you to believe, it's apparently not very helpful either. That's what the evidence from Britain, the most surveilled society on Earth, suggests, according to Ross Clark, author of The Road to Big Brother: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance State. Reason's Jacob Sullum noted this in his review of the book:

Take all those cameras. So far in the United States, they have been limited mainly to detecting traffic violations, generating heated debate about whether they reduce or increase accidents and whether municipalities are sacrificing public safety for the sake of revenue (by reducing the duration of yellow lights, for example). But provided they focus only on public areas, there is no constitutional barrier to erecting surveillance cameras throughout the United States, until our country is as thick with them as the U.K. …

Yet there is something to be said, fiscal concerns aside, for not having a cop on every corner. The sense of being constantly watched tends to put a damper on things

By Clark’s account, this cost is not worth paying. He says the evidence that the government’s surveillance cameras are effective at either deterring or detecting crime is thin. Facial recognition software aimed at catching known suspects has been a bust, easily foiled by poor lighting, hats, sunglasses, even a few months of aging. Clark argues that Britain’s cameras, which he describes as frequently unmonitored or out of order, are appealing as a relatively cheap way of seeming to do something about crime. He finds that “electronic surveillance is not always augmenting traditional policing; it is more often than not replacing it, with poor results.” Likewise, he says, huge collections of information gleaned from private sources such as phone companies, banks, and credit bureaus (along the lines of America’s renamed but not abandoned Total Information Awareness program) are unmanageable and rife with errors. Clark notes that “there is a fundamental rule about databases: the bigger they are, the more useless they become.” 

There's no indication in Sullum's review that camera theft is a problem in Britain. Maybe the bad guys are just more entrepreneurial in New York than in London. 

In any case, the idea that we can abandon all responsibility for our own safety and entrust it to the ever-watchful and ready-to-respond-instantaneously "authorities" is, always has been, and always will be nonsense.

 And likewise, the fears of libertarians (and civil libertarians) that Big Brother is always watching seem overblown (even if Big Brother's camera hasn't been stolen).

Governments seem to be no more competent in their efforts to institute Big Brother than they are in anything else.

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Where Democrats stand on surveillance

Posted by Richard on July 11, 2008

President Bush today signed legislation expanding intelligence agencies' powers to monitor communications involving foreign terrorist suspects.

If you're planning on contacting a bin Laden-backed, Taliban-supported Deobandi madrassa in Pakistan to see if the sons you sent there to be radicalized have been turned into jihadis and are ready to come home to continue the struggle, consider yourself warned.

The bill was passed by the Senate Wednesday 69-28. Twenty-two Democrats voted for the bill, including Senators Bayh, Casey, Feinstein, Inouye, Landrieu, both Nelsons, Rockefeller, Salazar, and Webb. Oh, yeah, and Sen. Obama, who had pledged during the primary campaign to filibuster the bill.

It was another significant victory by the purportedly incompetent and unpopular lame duck:

Even as his political stature has waned, Mr. Bush has managed to maintain his dominance on national security issues in a Democratic-led Congress. He has beat back efforts to cut troops and financing in Iraq, and he has won important victories on issues like interrogation tactics and military tribunals in the fight against terrorism.

Debate over the surveillance law was the one area where Democrats had held firm in opposition. House Democrats went so far as to allow a temporary surveillance measure to expire in February, leading to a five-month impasse and prompting accusations from Mr. Bush that the nation’s defenses against another strike by Al Qaeda had been weakened.

But in the end Mr. Bush won out, as administration officials helped forge a deal between Republican and Democratic leaders that included almost all the major elements the White House wanted. The measure gives the executive branch broader latitude in eavesdropping on people abroad and at home who it believes are tied to terrorism, and it reduces the role of a secret intelligence court in overseeing some operations.

The bill also made it clear just where many leading Democrats — including the presumptive presidential nominee — stand on this "privacy rights" issue: They're unalterably opposed to any compromise on communications privacy, even for foreign terrorists, and even if their opposition threatens national security and the safety of Americans … but not if it threatens their political future. 

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Why we’re safer

Posted by Richard on September 7, 2006

Last week in Salt Lake City, President Bush delivered the first of a series of speeches about the war against Islamofascism. I dubbed the speech "Bush channels Sharansky" –it made the case for rejecting the policy of promoting Middle East "stability" (which the U.S. pursued for over a half-century) in favor of encouraging freedom and democracy.

On Tuesday at the Capital Hilton in Washington, Bush followed up with a speech to the Military Officers Association of America, which included a sobering picture of our enemies:

We know what the terrorists intend to do because they’ve told us — and we need to take their words seriously. So today I’m going to describe — in the terrorists’ own words, what they believe… what they hope to accomplish, and how they intend to accomplish it. I’ll discuss how the enemy has adapted in the wake of our sustained offensive against them, and the threat posed by different strains of violent Islamic radicalism. I’ll explain the strategy we’re pursuing to protect America, by defeating the terrorists on the battlefield, and defeating their hateful ideology in the battle of ideas.

The terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience — but they’re not madmen. They kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil, but not insane. These al Qaeda terrorists and those who share their ideology are violent Sunni extremists. They’re driven by a radical and perverted vision of Islam that rejects tolerance, crushes all dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent men, women and children in the pursuit of political power. They hope to establish a violent political utopia across the Middle East, which they call a "Caliphate" — where all would be ruled according to their hateful ideology. …

We know what this radical empire would look like in practice, because we saw how the radicals imposed their ideology on the people of Afghanistan. Under the rule of the Taliban and al Qaeda, Afghanistan was a totalitarian nightmare — a land where women were imprisoned in their homes, men were beaten for missing prayer meetings, girls could not go to school, and children were forbidden the smallest pleasures like flying kites. Religious police roamed the streets, beating and detaining civilians for perceived offenses. Women were publicly whipped. Summary executions were held in Kabul’s soccer stadium in front of cheering mobs. …

The goal of these Sunni extremists is to remake the entire Muslim world in their radical image. In pursuit of their imperial aims, these extremists say there can be no compromise or dialogue with those they call "infidels" — a category that includes America, the world’s free nations, Jews, and all Muslims who reject their extreme vision of Islam. They reject the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the free world. Again, hear the words of Osama bin Laden earlier this year: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."

Read the whole thing — it’s excellent.

Today, Bush followed up with the third installment, and it was the big newsmaker because of Bush’s revelations about terrorists held by the CIA:

In addition to the terrorists held at Guantanamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. This group includes individuals believed to be the key architects of the September the 11th attacks, and attacks on the USS Cole, an operative involved in the bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and individuals involved in other attacks that have taken the lives of innocent civilians across the world. These are dangerous men with unparalleled knowledge about terrorist networks and their plans for new attacks. The security of our nation and the lives of our citizens depend on our ability to learn what these terrorists know.

Many specifics of this program, including where these detainees have been held and the details of their confinement, cannot be divulged. Doing so would provide our enemies with information they could use to take retribution against our allies and harm our country. I can say that questioning the detainees in this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives by helping us stop new attacks — here in the United States and across the world. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the examples provided by our intelligence community of how this program has saved lives; why it remains vital to the security of the United States, and our friends and allies; and why it deserves the support of the United States Congress and the American people.

Please don’t just rely on the 90-second news stories about this speech. Read the whole thing — or better yet, watch the video (about 30 minutes, available at the same link; requires Real Player). Bush is compelling and persuasive, and his recounting of the events set in motion by the capture of Abu Zubaydah –including the thwarting of several planned attacks on the U.S. — is the stuff of great spy thrillers. In particular, I found the revelation of a foiled anthrax weapons program chilling.

Bush presented, in my opinion, a powerful defense of the CIA detention program and the interrogation techniques used:

These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful. I cannot describe the specific methods used — I think you understand why — if I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful, and necessary.

This program has been, and remains, one of the most vital tools in our war against the terrorists. It is invaluable to America and to our allies. Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland. By giving us information about terrorist plans we could not get anywhere else, this program has saved innocent lives.

This program has been subject to multiple legal reviews by the Department of Justice and CIA lawyers; they’ve determined it complied with our laws. This program has received strict oversight by the CIA’s Inspector General. A small number of key leaders from both political parties on Capitol Hill were briefed about this program. All those involved in the questioning of the terrorists are carefully chosen and they’re screened from a pool of experienced CIA officers. Those selected to conduct the most sensitive questioning had to complete more than 250 additional hours of specialized training before they are allowed to have contact with a captured terrorist.

I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it — and I will not authorize it. Last year, my administration worked with Senator John McCain, and I signed into law the Detainee Treatment Act, which established the legal standard for treatment of detainees wherever they are held. I support this act. And as we implement this law, our government will continue to use every lawful method to obtain intelligence that can protect innocent people, and stop another attack like the one we experienced on September the 11th, 2001.

Personally, I wouldn’t have been as diplomatic and restrained in discussing McCain — or the Hamdan decision. I’d have said that this crap about humiliation, intimidation, and degrading treatment being torture is ridiculous and insults the victims of real torture (in fact, I have). But I’m not a politician, and I suppose Bush is right not to complain about things he can’t change now.

I’m glad Bush is going to Congress. It’s about time they quit just carping and viewing with alarm, and actually fulfilled their role. Bush is correct that, in the wake of Hamdan, we need specific legislation spelling out what is and isn’t legal. And Congress should certainly authorize military tribunals to deal with the men at Gitmo — they can’t and shouldn’t be handled as a law enforcement problem.
 

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Understanding the NSA data mining

Posted by Richard on May 13, 2006

So, what’s really going on with the NSA and all those phone records? Let me illustrate how the program works using a hypothetical scenario: The US Army is torturing an al Qaeda member using the technique known as "invasion of space by a female." He succumbs to this inhumane treatment and spills the beans about the secret Yemeni phone number used by al Qaeda’s Assistant Director of North American Sleeper Cells.

The Army passes this information to the NSA, which starts looking for phone calls to or from the Yemeni number. Lo and behold, they discover calls from that number to a phone number in Dearborn, Michigan. In fact, there’s a pattern: there’s a call from the Yemeni number to the Dearborn number on the 6th of each month. So they start looking at the calls to and from the Dearborn number, and they find another pattern: on the 6th of each month, shortly after the call from Yemen, the Dearborn number always calls six other Dearborn numbers. Each of those 6 numbers calls 6 more and then orders several pizzas for delivery.

Since the NSA, like the rest of the Bush administration, is in the hands of fundamentalist Christian zealots, the 6-6-6 pattern freaks them out, and they rush off to a FISA judge. He grants access to information about those 36 Dearborn phone customers and a warrant to wiretap the pizza joint’s phone.

In just a few months, the FBI unravels a bio-terror plot involving bad mushrooms and targeting college students throughout the Midwest. Americans everywhere breathe a sigh of relief as the Dept. of Homeland Security lowers the alert level to mauve.

So that’s how the data mining of phone records might work. But you’re probably still confused about some aspects of it, so let me clear a few things up.

Thursday’s USA Today news story wasn’t news. If you read beyond the superficial, ignorant MSM reporting, you knew all this last December. The EFF filed their class-action lawsuit against AT&T in January, and it alleged exactly what the USA Today story breathlessly reported this week as breaking news. Since the story isn’t news, it must have some other purpose, such as undermining the nomination of Gen. Hayden and setting the stage for a media circus during the confirmation hearings next week.

This kind of NSA activity isn’t new. In fact, since this program collects only "externals" — who’s calling whom — it’s far less intrusive than the Clinton administration’s infamous Echelon program, which was specifically designed to collect "internals" — the actual conversations — and use them for a broad range of purposes far less noble than preventing airplanes from flying into buildings. In fact, NSA communications monitoring programs of various degrees of intrusiveness and nefariousness — mostly worse than what’s happening today — have existed under every administration, Republican and Democrat, at least as far back as Kennedy. If you want to grumble and fuss about that ignoble record, fine — I’ll help. But quit hyperventilating.

The information they’re looking at isn’t protected by the 4th Amendment. Back in the Ma Bell days, when phone calls were analog and connections were made in cross-point switches, the government could track who you called by installing a device called a pen register at the phone company switch. All it did was record the numbers you dialed (and back then, you really dialed them). In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled in Smith v. Maryland that Mr. Smith had no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the phone numbers that he dialed, since he shared them with the phone company, which was free to use the information for billing and other purposes. The Court held that pen registers did not constitute a search, did not violate the 4th Amendment, and did not require a warrant. Today’s digital telephony network comes with the equivalent of pen registers on all the lines.

The information they’re looking at isn’t exactly private. The NSA is looking at phone company CDRs (call detail records). Phone companies use CDRs for billing, marketing, diagnostics, network analysis, and other purposes. Until privacy policy disclosures came along, they probably routinely sold your data to third parties for marketing purposes. Your cell phone records are for sale on the internet.

The information they’re looking at is an example of the dots they were criticized for not connecting. During the debate over reauthorization of the Patriot Act, Debra Burlingame, sister of American Airlines Flight 77 pilot Charles Burlingame III, pointed out an example that’s precisely on point (emphasis added):

NBC News aired an "exclusive" story in 2004 that dramatically recounted how al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, the San Diego terrorists who would later hijack American Airlines flight 77 and fly it into the Pentagon, received more than a dozen calls from an al Qaeda "switchboard" inside Yemen where al-Mihdhar’s brother-in-law lived. The house received calls from Osama Bin Laden and relayed them to operatives around the world. Senior correspondent Lisa Myers told the shocking story of how, "The NSA had the actual phone number in the United States that the switchboard was calling, but didn’t deploy that equipment, fearing it would be accused of domestic spying." Back then, the NBC script didn’t describe it as "spying on Americans." Instead, it was called one of the "missed opportunities that could have saved 3,000 lives."

The Democratic Party may have fewer records in its searchable databases, but they undoubtedly contain more detailed personal information than the NSA’s. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out, political parties and candidates are doing far more data mining than the NSA:

Getting elected to Congress is hard work. It is rivaled only by every incumbent’s dearest preoccupation: remaining in congress. It takes untold hours of dedicated labor by highly motivated staffs and party organizations. It takes the expertise of outside experts. It takes meticulous research into the predilections of likely voters. And, most of all, it takes money. Lots of money.

In modern American politics, that requires a fair amount of data mining—the very same bane of our existence that currently has the usual suspects in Congress posturing about whether President Bush should merely be impeached or drawn-and-quartered at high noon.
. . .

So if we’re going to have a national conversation about government data mining, by all means let’s have it. But let’s not just put the administration and General Hayden under the microscope.

Let’s examine the practices of the opposition that purports to find warehousing information and tracking data about American citizens to be the death-knell of liberty.

Let’s take a hard look at the elected officials who are taking a hard look at the NSA.

Here are a just a few questions we might ask Democratic-party chairman Howard Dean and the members of the judiciary and intelligence committees currently grousing for the cameras:

  • Do you maintain databases of American citizens for fundraising purposes?
  • Do those databases contain names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other identifying information?
  • Do the databases contain information about the interests of the citizens who have been entered into them? About candidates or causes to which they have previously donated money?
  • Are those databases searchable? If so, what search criteria do you use to divide these American citizens into various categories?
  • Do you do targeted mailings for purposes of raising funds or pushing particular issues?
  • When you target, how do you know whom to target? That is, what kind of information do you maintain in your databases to guide you about which potential donors or voters might be fruitful to tap on which particular issues?
  • Do you trade information about American citizens with other politicians and organizations in the expectation that they might reciprocate and you all might mutually exploit the benefits?

The loudest liberal critics of the NSA are the biggest flaming hypocrites. As the Second Amendment Foundation pointed out, for years, these folks have pushed to compile more and more data about honest, peaceful gun owners, imposed burdensome record-keeping requirements, and promoted the systematic violation of gun owners’ privacy rights and civil liberties:

“The hypocrisy here is staggering,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “Feinstein, Schumer, Pelosi and others are having fits about the NSA’s possible invasion of privacy over telephone calls, but they’ve never had such reservations about mining gun trace data from federal law enforcement agencies, or demanding other invasive measures against law-abiding gun owners.
. . .

“Their concern over legal ‘fishing expeditions’ obviously does not extend to law-abiding Americans who own firearms, nor to the possibility that such digging could interfere with on-going criminal investigations,” Gottlieb stated. “Isn’t it ironic that Pelosi, Feinstein and Schumer are righteously indignant about probes that are supposed to be uncovering terrorist threats to our country, but they haven’t the slightest concern about digging into the lives of citizens who are no threat at all, and are guilty only of exercising a constitutional civil right?”

I just can’t get all that upset about the records of the phone numbers I’ve called. Not while I can grumble and fuss about this: any time they want, day or night, with no warrant or court order, BATFE agents can barge into a gun dealer’s house or shop, demand to see his records, and determine what guns I’ve bought.

And I’ve never talked to anybody in Yemen.
 

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