Monday, January 16, 2006
Six degrees of separation: You are connected to terrorism.
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.The notion that a domestic phone number called by a suspected terrorist means that all the phone numbers associated with the domestic phone are suspects is truly incredible. By the theory of six degrees of separation you can be connected with any other individual on the planet through a chain of no less than five acquaintances. The Merriam online definition of acquaintance is: 1 a : the state of being acquainted b : personal knowledge : FAMILIARITY
But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. 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."
Officials who were briefed on the N.S.A. program said the agency collected much of the data passed on to the F.B.I. as tips by tracing phone numbers in the United States called by suspects overseas, and then by following the domestic numbers to other numbers called.
the N.S.A. material continued to be viewed as unproductive, prompting agents to joke that a new bunch of tips meant more "calls to Pizza Hut," one official, who supervised field agents, said.
2 a : the persons with whom one is acquainted
If you toss in the use of any business phone line, I'd wager that the degree of separation would average about 1 1/2.
The theory of six degrees was first posited in the 1920's. Well before the internet was even a shadow in Al Gores fevered imagination. There I go again falling for some wingnut talking point... but the overall point remains. If a suspect in the U.S. orders out pizza, that pizza joint is now a lead? Just imagine the scope of the spying here!
I'll tell you one person who has direct ties to the Bin Laden family. President George Bush! I wonder, was the presidents phone tapped? You know who else had a direct connection with Bin Laden? The guys in this administration who supported him when he was at war with Russia during their occupation of Afghanistan. They created Al Qaida. They armed them. Lets tap their phones as well I say. Pizza Hut and the old lady down the street are far less in league with our enemy than the men currently in power.
The N.Y. times story goes into some detail at the frustration of FBI agents who were pulled off of real cases in order to follow mountains of leads which lead absolutely no where. This spy program according to the administration is indispensable in the war on terror? Considering that any case in which this program was used may be tossed out of court if the truth comes out, and that investigators had to spend countless man hours snooping through the lives of thousands of innocent people when they could have been tracking down real threats, my conclusion is that the program has been an overall boon to our enemies. We toss our constitutional freedoms, distract from real investigations, endanger prosecutions if this evidence is used to gain convictions, have the president lie through his teeth claiming that surveillance of terrorist requires a court order before the whole sordid affair comes to light, all in the course of promoting an illegal activity the terrorists assume is happening as a matter of course. It's not quite the favor given on a silver platter that the Iraq invasion was, but one must conclude that in the conduct of the war on terror that this administration has really governed with disaster after disaster for the American cause.
Once again, the contention that president Bush should be considered the top Al Qaida operative in Washington D.C. is borne out by the facts as they come to light.
If I am wiretapped, they heard some good commentary on this weekends football games...I am happily cautious Steelers fan at the moment...
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