Monday, May 14, 2007

Off-topic FYI: Big Brother


In my other life as a firebrand troublemaker with a bad attitude, I've been a relentless privacy advocate, which is ironic now given that my blogging and long-time internet presence at the same location ( make me so readily visible (and now this MySpace thingy). This privacy Jones got started way back when I lived in Knoxville, and culminated in my Ethics & Policy Studies graduate work at UNLV. Topic: "Jar Wars." Should you have to pee in a vial in order to get or keep a job (or play on the team or in the school band, etc)? Long answer: Hell, no! (but, the practice continues unabated. Either Urine or Yer Out).

Then, after 9/11, the government sought aggressively to tear down any and all barriers to surveillance of anyone and everyone, under the guise of "pertectin' the Murkin' Peeple from Terrists."

First up was an Orwellian initiative they dubbed "Total Information Awareness," through which they'd gather all knowable "facts" about everyone and data-mine them looking for Bad Guys.

Gotta love the Latin "Scientia est Potentia" -- Knowledge is Power. Right. Its Third Reich equivalent: "Sig Heil, Mein Fuhrer!"

Well, I jumped all over that mendacious POS idea (mostly on methodological grounds), and published a dissenting web page that got me some ink in the online journal ("Is Big Brother our only hope against bin Laden?"), which led to some of my work getting put in front of some congresscritters by some cats at the Cato Institute, which led to Congress killing that particular program (but, these dudes never quit. Read on).

Here's the web article I wrote, back at the end of 2002: The Homeland Security Act and the proposed DARPA "Total Information Awareness" (TIA) program.

Unrequited smart-ass that I can be, I also sent this letter in hardcopy to the Director of the TIA program. LOL!

Ya feel me?

So, am I too now an Enemy of the State?

Last year I wrote a song about it ("...oh, Gawd...," eyes roll...)
Big Brother

I bet he's watchin' you.
Dey's just one problem,
He don't know what to do.
Lib'ruls and Quakers,
Got 'em all right in his sight,
I feel much safer now,
He’s on ‘em day and night.

He be surveillin’ me.
Readin' all my emails,
I gots no privacy.
I called my mother,
He taped the whole damn thing.
Send me to Git’mo, right,
It’ll help ‘em make me sing.

YO!, you can kiss my ass,
You got no brains, no class.
Gimme my Constitution back,
What in the world
We think we’re tryin’ to save?

We know he's stalkin' us.
Can’t find Osama,
But he found my Uncle Gus.
They searched at Rite-Aid,
Found his Viagra pills.
And the credit union
Gave up his VISA bills,

Jus’ can’t connect the dots,
Chasin’ ev’ry shadow
The only game he gots.
My Google hist’ry
Won’t help you stop Jihad,
Yo, gumshoe morons,
Why don’t you try Riyahd.

YO!, you can kiss my ass,
You got no brains, no class.
Give us our Constitution back,
What in the world
We think we’re tryin’ to save?

Words and Music Copyright © 2006
Robert E. Gladd, All Rights Reserved.

Funky little tune sure to give ya happy feets (hey, this post isn't totally off-topic!)


Well, I just saw an ad for a PBS "Frontline" show that will air tomorrow night, "Spying on the Homefront."

Like I said, these cats don't give up. Which is why I don't.

Interesting little Vegas connection in the Press Release:
...Spying on the Home Front also looks at a massive FBI data sweep in December 2003. On a tip that Al Qaeda "might have an interest in Las Vegas" around New Year's 2004, the FBI demanded records from all hotels, airlines, rental car agencies, casinos and other businesses on every person who visited Las Vegas in the run-up to the holiday. Stephen Sprouse and Kristin Douglas of Kansas City, Missouri, object to being caught in the FBI dragnet in Las Vegas just because they happened to get married there at the wrong moment. Says Douglas, "I'm sure that the government does a lot of things that I don't know about, and I've always been OK with that--until I found out that I was included."

A check of all 250,000 Las Vegas visitors against terrorist watch lists turned up no known terrorist suspects or associates of suspects. The FBI told FRONTLINE that the records had been kept for more than two years, but have now all been destroyed.

"To simply say, you know, `as a matter of national security we need to know the name of every single person checking into your hotel at any given moment,'" says Alan Feldman, vice president of MGM Mirage, "that seems extremely unusual and, I think, extremely troubling."...
Well, right after that, I was teaching a graduate seminar in "Argument Analysis" at UNLV, and one of my students was a Vegas Metro police officer. He laughed derisively about that whole episode and its futility. The feds did indeed make the hotels and the airlines fork over their guest and passenger lists. Yeah, and because everyone uses different proprietary data systems, they had to print everything out and deliver the stuff by the truckloads to the cops, who then spent the whole holiday season workin' mandatory no-leave overtime rummaging through mountains of paper lookin' for "terrists."

Uhhh..., hel-LO?

The aggregate mentality here: "Why, if we just had ALL of the hay, we'd know EXACTLY where the terrorist 'needles' are -- they're RIGHT THERE IN THE HAY!"


So, if I'm this Jihadi cat bent on wreaking bloody havoc in Vegas for Allah the Merciful, while everyone's busily hunched over piles of paper, I can simply rent an RV up ButtBleep, Wyoming, pack it full of C-4 and nails and ball bearings, drive down the 15, and stay in it till I light the fuse. I won't even show up in your silly paper piles.

Ya feel me?

Dudes, you gotta skate to where the puck will be, not to where it was.

Look: any amount of "lawful/due process" impedes investigatory efficiency, duh. Part of the price we pay to live in a free society. Y'know, one with, uh, laws that everyone, including those in power must follow. Yeah, the choices and trade-offs are difficult. But it remains beyond dispute that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," and these cats wanna do all this stuff in total secrecy with zero oversight. That's a recipe for total dictatorship.

I just take my responsibility of active citizenship seriously, warts & all. I don't have all the answers, by any means, but I recognize idiocy when I see it.

So, coming back around to "on-topic," I have not the slightest doubt that Brother Bill Champlin would share my Bad Attitude with respect to stuff like the foregoing (mp3 from the "MayDay" CD, that's Jerry on guitar, Rochon on bass, and Eddie Garcia on drums. Amazon has a few copies left, grab 'em. It's an awesome CD).