December 16, 2007

Taking the Easy Way Out [11:59 am]

If we can’t frame our sophistries around defending “the children,” we always have blaming technology. Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry

The federal government’s reliance on private industry has been driven by changes in technology. Two decades ago, telephone calls and other communications traveled mostly through the air, relayed along microwave towers or bounced off satellites. The N.S.A. could vacuum up phone, fax and data traffic merely by erecting its own satellite dishes. But the fiber optics revolution has sent more and more international communications by land and undersea cable, forcing the agency to seek company cooperation to get access.

And while the heart of this assertion is true, it fails to point out that there are many ways that the desired surveillance can be done — and that the (lazy) choice of the easiest method is almost certainly the most brutal when it comes to democratic ideals.

See Glenn Greenwald’s The Lawless Surveillance State

See also Jack Balkin and Sanford Levinson in their paper The Processes of Constitutional Change: From Partisan Entrenchment to the National Surveillance State

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