When you pay attention to work, you miss all the good stuff

For the past couple days, StAllio! has been covering a fun controversy brewing in Indiana politics concerning the “Bloody 8th” congressional district race between Republican incumbent and right-wing loony John Hostetler, and his hottie Democrat opponent, Sheriff Brad Ellsworth.
Ellsworth’s daughter is an IU student, and happened to have a facebook page where she’s alleged to have had pictures of herself holding what might have been a bottle of beer, or might have been a bottle of root beer. I’ve seen the pictures, and I couldn’t tell. Similarly, Maggie Daniels, the daughter of Mitch Daniels, had pictures that appeared to show her engaging in underage drinking on her facebook page.
Fellow IU student Joshua Claybourn has a blog at In the Agora, where someone provided links to these two facebook pages. Claybourn, being a Republican and an employee supporter of Hostettler, proceeded to send the Ellsworth link to the newspapers, while concealing the Daniels link.
Chaos ensued, Claybourn was attacked, then he tried to cover up his involvement, blah blah blah. Go read the story at StAllio’s page, which has been published on Atrios, BTW. I’m so jealous.

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President Washington Used Electronic Wiretaps

“President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale.” — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales while testifying before congress on illegal wiretapping
No, I’m not shitting you, he really said that, and you can see the video yourself.
Can I also point out that aside from the fact that there weren’t electronics in Washington’s time — he was also fighting the Revolutionary War. You know, the one we had before the Constitution that makes this stuff illegal. So, technically, if he had some electronics with medium voltage cable, and, you know, so did the British, he would legally have been allowed to wiretap them, on accounta, we didn’t have a government yet.
But can I just point out that Gonzales is one of the brilliant minds running our country?

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Georgia Vegan Protestors Arrested for writing down License Plate

In Georgia, the Department of Homeland Security was conducting surveillance of anti-war rallies and vegan protests. At the vegan protest, Caitlin Childs, a vegetarian activist, realized that she was under surveillance and wrote down the license place of the DHS agent who was monitoring her. She was then arrested for doing so.
Note, this is a different story than one I posted earlier about the DHS monitoring a Vegan gathering here in Indiana. That story came to light due to the Freedom of Information Act.
Gee, I feel safer already. Don’t you?

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Bush illegal spying finds nothing of value

According to the Washington Post:

Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former government officials and private-sector sources with knowledge of the technologies in use.
Bush has recently described the warrantless operation as “terrorist surveillance” and summed it up by declaring that “if you’re talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why.” But officials conversant with the program said a far more common question for eavesdroppers is whether, not why, a terrorist plotter is on either end of the call. The answer, they said, is usually no.
Fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls, as well. That step still requires a warrant from a federal judge, for which the government must supply evidence of probable cause.

The point people seem to be overlooking — who is actually looking at this data? There are thousands of people in the NSA and Bush White House who have been looking at this data gathered — data about you! Make no mistake, even if you’re not on the list of suspects, your data has been gathered up and looked at in the course of this investigation. How do you know they people looking at your data are honest? How do you know they’re not selling your credit card number? Who’s watching the watchers?
UPDATE: Don’t believe your data is caught up in the NSA dragnet?

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FISA is a SECRET Court

Alberto Gonzales just claimed that the Bush Administration shouldn’t have to get warrants to spy on American citizens because “we’re at war, and there has to be a measure of secrecy.” But the court they get the warrants from, the FISA court, is a SECRET court. They have top-secret clearances, and everything is done quickly and secretly out of the public eye. There’s no chance that any enemy combatants would learn about the wiretapping from the court system.
Bush said he had a team of lawyers go over the program — but a team of lawyers isn’t going to protect us. Only the courts can make sure that people’s rights are not being compromised in the process. And as I’ve pointed out many times, the court is there not just to protect the rights of American Citizens, but to protect BUSH from criticism, and to provide him back up to show that what he’s doing is above board.
If he went around the courts, he’s doing it because he knows he can’t get warrants for what he’s doing. Which means the spying he’s doing isn’t on TERRORISTS at all. It’s on his political enemies. He’s spying on Democrats. He was spying on John Kerry and Kerry’s election team.
Bush should be impeached, then jailed.

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Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure

Defective Yeti writes a hilarious text adventure game similar to the classic Zork, only you’re George Bush. Naturally, you’re pretty stupid.

Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure
Revision 88 / Serial number 54892
Oval Office
You are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.
There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-length mirror upon the wall.
What do you want to do now?
> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.
> LOOK MIRROR
Self-reflection is not your strong suit.
> PET SEAL
It’s not that kind of seal.
> EXAMINE CHAIRS
They are two several chairs arranged around the center of the room, along with two couches. Under one couch you find Clinton’s shoes.
> FILL SHOES
You are unable to fill Clinton’s shoes.

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Bush Asks for Google Users Personal Search Information

And if the last story wasn’t enough to make want to laugh and cry at the same time, try this one: not content with fumbling the ball in Iraq and listening in on you while you talk to your family members in England, the Bush Administration is demanding Google’s search records, according to numerous news sources, including the Mercury News.

The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.
The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content accessible to minors. The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.
In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
The Mountain View-based search and advertising giant opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.
Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said the company will fight the government’s effort “vigorously.”‘
“Google is not a party to this lawsuit, and the demand for the information is overreaching,” Wong said.

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Jill Carroll and “Negotiating with Terrorists”

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Not to lean on Katic Couric this morning, but she deserves this one, too… She had a story this morning on Jill Carroll, the American reporter kidnapped in Iraq by insurgents. She interviewed a fellow journalist (a pretty level-headed guy) about her, and he spoke well of Jill and her style of reporting. And she had an FBI analyst on to talk about Jill’s prospects for freedom. What made me do a spit-take was Katie’s statement to the FBI guy —
“how likely is it that Jill will be freed, since America has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists?”
What? Um, Katie. You’re getting real life mixed up with the movies again. That was Harrison Ford, not George Bush. We negotiate with terrorists ALL THE TIME. That “missing” 8.8 Billion dollars was passed out as cash payments to insurgents, Katie, to pay them to clear a green zone in Baghdad. America traded prisoners from Abu Graib for kidnapped contract mercenaries — paid killers — at more than one time. America traded for guns, money, oil, roads, towns, Halliburton. America paid the insurgents not to attack before both of the elections, Katie. George Bush is a whore who’s slept with every criminal in Iraq. The only dirty, filthy thing that George won’t do is negotiate for an actual American citizen. Because they’re expendable.

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Illegal wiretaps gained no successful information at all

According to the New York Times, today:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 – 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.

“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.”

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?”

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