Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ahead of Their Time

In case you missed this amusing moment yesterday (and I did, unfortunately), during the senate judiciary committee hearings, Abu Gonzales claimed historical precedent for the NSA electronic suveillance program:
President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale.
That's right, folks. Your Attorney General believes that Washington and Lincoln conducted broad swath electronic surveillance on enemies of these United States. Is it any wonder that whatever this administration touches falls completely apart?


Blogger Captain American said...

While I side with your jab completely, I suppose that Lincoln probably use telegrams/morse code to communicate with his spies. Washington, however, didn't have this luxury. The only situation that would even come close is if he used spies who had been struck by lightning.

I'm sure that's what Gonzales was alluding to in his claim.

Incidentally, you have the best political blog I've read yet.

12:16 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...



Given the limited extent of telegraph in Lincoln's time, it would probably be fairly easy to monitor such traffic. But as with this case, most enemies already know they could be listened in on and take aims to avoid this.

There was a story awhile back that described that intelligence officials are well aware that organised terrorists simply do not communicate by telephone. bin Laden ave that up back in '98 after his satellite phone was tracked and a few missiles came sailing his way. Websites now seem to be the preferred method.

It is an highly interesting story and I cannot believe that this hasn't come out more (well, actually I can).

check it out at WaPo:

The NSA's Overt Problem

1:22 PM  
Blogger Captain American said...

Just to clear a line, I wanted to make sure you knew I was being sarcastic with my remark about any allusions Gonzales might have made. People in congress only tell you they alluded something when they are in trouble and having to explain why they said what they said to get them in trouble.

2:51 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Indeed. An allusion is a terrible thing to waste.

I was amused by the SOTU when Bush said that is was time to “move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past" and the next day, his Energy Secretary, Bodman, explained that Bush didn't really mean that, that it was "purely an example."

Which I'm guessing means that the Bush administration would be just as happy to see us reduce our dependence on Canadian petroleum, since the "Middle East" was just an example. Lord knows we need to cut ties with those mindlessly reactionary Canucks ASAP.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Captain American said...

That's a terrific example I should have known about... if I had your level of knowledge in this area. I should find a way to do that. Otherwise, I'll end up saying something moronic here.

7:37 PM  

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