The Wall Street Journal’s Embarrassing…Naiveté

In a Friday op-ed, the editors of the WSJ had this to say, among other things, about the government’s invasion of American privacy in the name of “security.”

The effectiveness of data-mining is proportional to the size of the sample, so the NSA must sweep broadly to learn what is normal and refine the deviations.  A nongovernment analogue might be the credit card flags that freeze payment when, say, a New Yorker goes on a shopping spree in Phoenix.

This is beyond naïve, it’s disingenuous.  The “analogue” has nothing to do with what the government is doing.  The credit card company that does such flagging—data mining—is a private enterprise away from which any and all customers easily can walk should they disagree with the data mining.  Americans can’t walk away from our government without emigrating.  And waiting for the next election lets the government’s damaging invasion continue apace in the interim.

Moreover, that credit card company is data mining a single customer, albeit it’s likely doing this for each of its customers.  It’s not routinely aggregating, by…credit card number…those data with every other customer’s data.  But wait—the government, in its Verizon data mining isn’t collecting personally identifiable data—only phone numbers called and called from.  Please.  The point of the government’s data mining is to find out who and to whom—phone numbers aren’t the terrorists.  It’s breathtakingly easy to attach a name to a phone number.

Then they write this:

The Washington Post also revealed Thursday that NSA has a parallel metadata program for Internet address packets called Blarney.

If the NSA’s version of a computer science department operates like the rest of FISA, the government is cautious to ensure that its searches are narrowly tailored and specific protocols are reviewed by FISA judges.

On what basis does the WSJ make their assumption of that monumental “if?”  Do they really think a government (not just Obama’s administration) that has the present IRS, the present DoJ, the present HHS, the present EPA, etc can be trusted to honor secret limits?

Further, the Washington Post led their article with this:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs….

That’s content, not just address packets (the Internet’s analogue to phone numbers).

Given all of this, and the associated secrecy, I have to wonder who else is being investigated.  Conservative Americans, perhaps?  Americans who disagree with this government’s policies?

Finally, and this can’t be emphasized enough: we have no security without our individual liberties.  Ben Franklin understood this; it’s unfortunate that this conservative newspaper has made this mistake.

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