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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Essential Liberty

“Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: ‘Men feared witches and burnt women.’
The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.
Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.
Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?
It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.”
-Al Gore, prepared speech, January 16, 2006

“You know, I think that Al is right, but that isn’t even the biggest problem. If this were a case of security vs. freedom there might, in a way, be a case. I wouldn’t agree with it (being a large believer in the essential freedoms that the founders of the country fought for), but the case would at least be there. Unfortunately this spying seems to have not only been illegal, but it also seems to have HURT national security rather than helped it.”

“In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency, which was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of foreign-related phone and Internet traffic, that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.”
-New York Times, January 17, 2006

“You see, when the NSA overloaded the FBI it actually reduced their ability to do their jobs. That is a bad thing.”

"’We'd chase a number, find it's a school teacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed,’ said one former FBI official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. ‘After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration.’"
-New York Times, January 17, 2006

“I would imagine. This put the FBI, the group responsible for domestic spying, in the position of having too much information, and, even worse, too much bad information. This hurts national security as well as being illegal.”

“F.B.I. field agents, who were not told of the domestic surveillance programs, complained they often were given no information about why names or numbers had come under suspicion. A former senior prosecutor, who was familiar with the eavesdropping programs, said intelligence officials turning over the tips ‘would always say that we had information whose source we can't share, but it indicates that this person has been communicating with a suspected Al Qaeda operative.‘ He said, ‘I would always wonder, what does 'suspected' mean?’"
-New York Times, January 17, 2006

“So you see it was a team effort. The NSA would illegally get the names and numbers of suspects. They would then pass them on to the FBI, who would try to legally pursue them. I think that the theory was that an FBI conviction might stand up where secret NSA information would not. If this were about money they would use the term ‘laundering’.”

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
-Benjamin Franklin


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