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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spies On Us

Issues of surveillance and spying have been very much in the news in recent days. The reports, starting with a major investigation in The New York Times, deal with national and international surveillance, supposedly targeted at terrorism and drug trafficking.

But what if surveillance hit closer to home, targeting regular folks like you and me? I have evidence to suggest that it has hit close to home for your humble blogger, and I will present that information soon.

But first, let's consider the larger, national issue. Scott Horton, of Harper's, says The New York Times article describes "the dawn of a new National Surveillance State in the United States, a public-private partnership. And the object of the partnership--which emerges as a criminal conspiracy, quite literally, between telecom companies and the Bush Administration--is to watch and listen to you and everything you do.

"Of course, they will say it's about 'terrorists', or about 'narcotics traffickers.' And indeed every authoritarian and wannabe totalitarian system from the dawn of time has cast its snooping on citizens in just those terms."

A key point Horton makes: This involves abuse of, and by, telecommunications providers. And what if a telecom company objects to mistreating citizens and skirting the law? One company, Qwest, did object. And its CEO quickly became the subject of a Justice Department investigation. Nice.

Glenn Greenwald, of Salon, also weighs in on The Times report. "What these revelations highlight--yet again--is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government's ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens," Greenwald writes.

But let's return to our earlier point: Is abusive surveillance limited to national officials? Is it possible that government officials closer to your home might be using the telecom industry in an abusive way?

I have evidence to suggest that such a scenario certainly is possible. Am I a paranoid crackpot or a true victim of official surveillance? You be the judge.

I don't have all of the facts in my situation nailed down, so I will write about it in somewhat theoretical terms, inviting you to walk in my shoes and see what you think. I can guarantee that I'm not remotely connected to terrorism or drug trafficking. But we already suspect such ties are not necessary for the folks who live in BushWorld to want to check you out.

Come along for an interesting tale. We'll call it a "Schnauzer Spy Story."

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