Friday, January 06, 2006

Postcards from Your National Security State 

Just remember: abuses cannot happen because abuses are against the law, and if abuses do happen, they're not really abuses because, as the President explained, we don't actually have to follow the law. And besides, the law won't keep us safe from two-party terror:
As it hunted down tax scofflaws, the Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of an appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the IRS, said the practice was an “outrageous violation of the public trust” that could undermine the agency’s credibility.

IRS officials acknowledged that party affiliation information was routinely collected by a vendor for several months. They told the vendor last month to screen the information out.

“The bottom line is that we have never used this information,” said John Lipold, an IRS spokesman. “There are strict laws in place that forbid it.”
Or Catholic Filipino scholar terror:
Last month [Grant] Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal.

“I had no idea (Homeland Security) would open personal letters,” Goodman told MSNBC.com in a phone interview. “That’s why I alerted the media. I thought it should be known publicly that this is going on,” he said. Goodman originally showed the letter to his own local newspaper, the Kansas-based Lawrence Journal-World . . . .

The letter comes from a retired Filipino history professor; Goodman declined to identify her. And although the Philippines is on the U.S. government’s radar screen as a potential spawning ground for Muslim-related terrorism, Goodman said his friend is a devout Catholic and not given to supporting such causes.

A spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection division said he couldn’t speak directly to Goodman’s case but acknowledged that the agency can, will and does open mail coming to U.S. citizens that originates from a foreign country whenever it’s deemed necessary.
Or CNN-style journalistic terror:
CNN's David Ensor has a follow-up here on that weird story about the NSA possibly snooping on CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Says Ensor: "A senior U.S. intelligence official told CNN on Thursday that the National Security Agency did not target CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour or any other CNN journalist for surveillance."

What we may have here though is an issue of terminology.

Remember that what Andrea Mitchell
said or asked in her interview of James Risen was this: "Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net? (italics added)"

To be 'swept up' in a net isn't the same as being 'targetted' -- just ask dolphins.

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