Sunday, November 27, 2005

Data Mine This...

"So we cheated and we lied and we tested
"And we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do." Stephen Stills, "Southern Cross."

Stills, of course, laments lost love, but everytime I hear those lines, I think of the Bushbuckers. That should be their motto, especially the Bushbucker in Chief.

Despite their repeated incompetence--or maybe because of it--I read the report by Walter Pincus in today's Washington Post, "Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance," with a mixture of anger, amusement and absurdist resignation. After all, Pentagon spooks were involved in sculpting the scant information on Iraq into a justification for war, knowing everything they reported was wrong. Their counterparts in the FBI can't find the anthrax mailer. The CIA is best equipped, it appears, for torturing people held in secret prisons in order to obtain confessions known to be fabricated. As to 9/11/2001--what can one say--that the intelligence agencies appear collectively to have had everything but last names, flight numbers and dates. In that light, what should one make of the Pentagon's expansion of its capacity for domestic spying, especially through the [un]poetically named Counterintelligence Field Activity. The agency's computer programs will sweep the web and our email into Pentagon databanks, where they will languish until time comes to cherry pick the information to justify another war--say, against Syria--or another secret arrrest, extraordinary rendition, and torture.

That's what passes for the clandestine war on "terriors." It is a sham. There is no evidence that increased funding and personnel has improved or will improve the quality of the information the intelligence agencies disseminate--that is, they might be able to gather every byte of data in the world, but they can't properly analyze or report it. Increased funding and personnel appear primarily to increase the capacity of these agencies for mischief, corruption and incompetence. Throwing more and more money at them is the equivalent of throwing more money at the missile defense system in the hope it will suddenly work. It's not happening.

Incompetent or not, the more profound question is why we should permit the military to spy on American citizens within our borders. But in asking that, I realize it's a false question. We. the people, are not being given the opportunity to approve this invasion of our rights. It is being imposed from above by a crew of Bushbuckers who, during their nearly five years in power--yes, only 5, they have 3 more, mein gott--"have never failed to fail."

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