The all seeing eye of our vast unchecked national security state was brought to the fore this week with a couple of fascinating pieces. U.S. based journallist Glenn Greenwald, writing for UK publication The Guardian, made international headlines with his article on a leaked top secret FISA court order. Phone carrier Verizon was compelled by that court to turn over troves of "metadata" to the National Security Agency. Close behind, The Washington Post piled on with their reporting on the so called PRISM program. The NSA reportedly has back door access to the web. Sunday the stunning news broke that the Guardian's leaker outed himself while holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong. 29 year old ex-CIA computer wiz Edward Snowden, under the employ of noted defense contractor Booz Allen, became perhaps the most famous leaker since Daniel Ellsburg. (Although Bradley Manning would probably take issue with that. Manning went on trial this week.)
A Few Thoughts:
1. Is it just me, or does the NSA strategy seem like the Kevin Bacon Game. I'm just a dumb dj, but the idea behind efforts like the Verizon data dump (and believe me, all the carriers are being compelled to give the feds the same shit) seems to be the use of complex algorithms to establish connections between people. In other words, how many degrees are you or I separated from each other, or a terrorist? How many degrees and how many connections make a person interesting to them? Dangerous? Is this even efficient? (never mind the moral and constitutional issues.)
2. All this stuff costs billions.... off the books, black budget unaccountable billions. Is it even irony any more when we learn that Mr. Snowden's employer is Booz Allen? Former Booz Allen CEO James Clapper is.... wait for it.... President Obama's current director of National Intelligence. Our entire national security apparatus is a lot like the rest of our government: a revolving door. There's a lot of money on the table, and well connected contractors waiting to take it. All this scary shit the NSA is involved with may not even work. Maybe that's beside the point. Contractors like Booz Allen are making serious money regardless.
3. It's instructive that outside the White House, the NSA, lawmaker lizards like Lindsay Graham and Diane Feinstein, and pliant beltway pundits, there seems to be little outrage on the part of the public that the NSA's secrets were made public. (And I'm sure the greatest majority of all is comprised of people who don't care either way). I get a sense that a sizable chunk of the population who pays attention is getting mighty tired of this Faustian Bargain we've made for our "safety." Some of us are generally frightened by this vast, unaccountable bureaucracy and we'd like to see it reigned in. Or maybe that's just my own little feedback loop.
4. I could probably find a Myspace post or a recorded bar conversation or two from back in the day where I stated my concerns about the Patriot Act. No matter. Timing is everything and times being what they were a decade or so ago, we're left this.
5. It's not enough for them to offer assurances. The founders never intended for our affairs to be carried out this manner. "Just Trust Us" is not printed on the dollar bill. At least not yet.
Not widely reported last week was the arrest of the man responsible for the outing of people and information surrounding the Steubenville High School rape case. 26 year old Deric Lostutter will probably do more time than anyone else connected to the case. How did they find him? Perhaps the answer is above.
I'm not going to even try to explain to you all the angles in the story of alleged crack smoker Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Gawker has been all over it, even going so far as to attempt to raise money to buy video of Ford sucking on a pipe. Use this as your launch point if you're so inclined and join me in asking how he got elected, and why he's still in office.
Don't miss this article on theories that Queen Elizabeth I was a dude. Fascinating.
It's storm season, and if you have a damaged tree don't try to remove it like these fellas.
Hey look, I remember high school. Sometimes cheerleaders were mean.... not this mean though. Cheerleader pimps out class mate.
If ESPN could crap itself it would over news the Patriots have signed Tim Tebow. Scratch that. ESPN does crap itself everyday when Skip Bayless takes to the air.
Hey I ain't proud, but I own Ryan Braun in three fantasy leagues. (I should also not be proud of how many leagues I'm in.) I think Braun will make it through the season unless his bad thumb gets him. That said MLB won't rest until they have his steroid bloated head on a stick.
Indians closer Chris Perez is real bright. He's accused of having pot mailed to his house. There's a 4.20 ERA joke in there somewhere.
My Mariners played in one of the all time weirdest extra inning games last week. Of course they lost. That's a stupid question.
And Finally Tonight
Brian Phillips is the afternoon DJ at the legendary FM Indi Rock Station CD102.5. You can learn more about him and other Pencilstorm contributors here.