How to read right wing spin

Of course, you know all about the Washington Times (aka “All the news that the Reverend Moon sees fit to print…”) and what a right wing spin machine it is.

Sis sent me this link, earlier today. Go ahead and read the article….

Some key paragraphs….

President Bush and U.S. policy-makers are receiving more intelligence from open sources such as Internet blogs and foreign newspapers than they previously did, senior intelligence officials said.
The new Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content, said OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin.
“A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we’re getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to … people putting information on there that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Mr. Naquin told The Washington Times.

Translation: “We’re watching you fuckers. And we’re filtering it. FOR CONTENT.” Reflect on that for a moment, kids.

The OSC uses powerful computers and software technology to “sift” the Internet for valuable intelligence. It also buys information from commercial databases.
In the past, open-source reports were used mainly by intelligence analysts.
“But now our customer base literally ranges from the president to local police departments,” Mr. Naquin said. The Fairfax County police use OSC products, as do police departments in San Diego, New York and Baltimore. The center also provides support to the U.S. military.

Translation: “We’re not only watching you fuckers, but we’re talking to your local police department, too.”

Um. Holy shit?

The article in question is this sort of celebration of the new capacity for sifting data on weblogs and providing it to the executive branch, but what I read it as is the announcement of an EVEN FURTHER incursion by the State into your ability to freely express yourself online without having the NSA sifting through it. This is a fantastic breakthrough, if you’re one of Glenn Greenwald’s Authoritarian Cultists… for the rest of us, well, this is kind of ominous.

In other news, Oceania’s forces fighting on the Malabar Front have reported a stunning victory over the forces of Eurasia Eastasia….


  1. Darren

    Ok, so what you write on your blog might be seen by the government? Exactly how is this an intrusion, Patrick? You publish your blog for public consumption. You must presume once something’s on your blog that anyone can see it, right?
    I know that the government is going far beyond just reading blogs, however, and that’s what worries me. The analogy to the pre-electronics age is pretty simple: e-mail is the modern letter, and a blog is the modern small-run newspaper. If you write a letter to a personal aquaintence, you do not expect that to become public (and you have some expectaton of privacy). If, on the other hand, you publish a newspaper, the whole point is to disseminate that information to the public. Once the newspaper is in public circulation, you do not control who reads it.
    So I guess I’m saying I’m much more concerned, from a privacy standpoint, about the feds (and states) reading my e-mail that something on a blog.
    Well, and then there’s the whole issue of our tax dollars being spent on this kind of surveillance.

  2. Darren-
    your comment lacks consideration of the implications of this program.

    It’s not just that they’re vacuuming all blog content, they’re filtering it for content, which is to say, they know who their enemies are.

    The punchline is in the second excerpted paragraph. “And we’re talking to your local police department about you.”

    It’s one thing for the CIA to say “Oh, we read your little newspaper every day.”

    It’s another entirely for them to say “And we have your local sheriff on speeddial.” The implication to me is, since this administration has shown repeatedly that they’re willing to throw people in jail without probable cause, without trial and without representation, that they’re not afraid to compile an enemies list. Y’know, just in case they want to bring folks in and have a little chat.

    Technically, there is nothing illegal going on here, but it’s sort of like noticing that your neighbor is stockpiling assault rifles. Sure, he can do that if he wants to… but why?

  3. Darren

    Of course they’re compiling an enemies list. This is nothing new, and certainly not limited to right-of-center governments.
    The dangerous aspect is this line of your comment: “this administration has shown repeatedly that they’re willing to throw people in jail without probable cause, without trial and without representation.” That’s the real problem.
    We’re lucky, though. As citizens, at least the Courts still recognize that we have SOME rights. It’s non-citizens that the current administration views as less than human.

  4. Having court recognition of one’s rights is little guarantee from being incarcerated or searched, as this does not stop zealous police departments from doing either in the first place. In other words, in order to have one’s recognition in the court, you need to first be searched or seized. When we look at how often and in what ways these kinds of 4th amendment court cases reach the federal level, I think it is a reasonable conclusion that there are already a lot of unnecessary, unconstitutional, and unethical violations of the 4th amendment taking place, even with the long history of case law stemming from the 4th amendment.

    And, given the practice of “rendition”, it becomes much more difficult to say that one has rights in a court room, since one will never see the court again.

  5. Darren

    Charles, I don’t know that 4th Amendment cases from the state courts reaching the federal appellate level tells us anything about the volume or severity of everyday search and seizure violations. I think the cases that reach the federal appeals courts are by definition the close calls, the cases that raise novel questions.

    That doesn’t mean there are not potentially a lot of violations or abuses; I simply take issue with your measuring stick.

  6. Fair enough; I take your point well. My thought is that, given that there are these close calls, there is some significant amount of local experimentation with what is permissible generating these situations. Being an officer and having attended training classes on the constitutionality of searches and seizures, where I get to see the wide variety of policing done by officers in Georgia (cops tend to tell a lot of their personal stories to each other and answer questions in classes from their personal experiences with difficult situations), I say with some anecdotal assurance that there is experimentation at the local level (in Georgia, to be sure, but I think this is fairly typical throughout the US), with many officers approaching case law studies with the mentality “So, what does this mean I can do in order to arrest/search someone?”

    I guess that’s one implicit part of my argument needed to make my claim more acceptable.

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