Sung to the tune of Oh Susannah:
At last! The Bush fascists have gone too far! Life as we know it will never be the same! They are trampling on our civil liberties! Oy vey (Jewish moonbats only, or at least not Muslims)! A Police State is at hand! To the barricades--or at least, start talking about moving to Canada!
Seismic! Shocking! Startling! A bombshell!! That’s how the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows described a front-page story in today’s (Thursday’s) USA Today that breathlessly touted how “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls.” Like the TV coverage, USA Today’s story insinuated that the existence of the database was a major violation of Americans’ privacy rights and evidence that the President was lying last December when he described the NSA’s eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications as limited and targeted.
Today’s article does not allege that any calls are listened in on. Indeed, as USA Today describes it, the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty.
And for all of the hype, there may not even be much “news” here. Last December 24, a few days after they spilled the beans about the NSA terrorist surveillance program, New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed how U.S. phone companies were helping the NSA by giving them “access to streams of domestic and international communications.”
If the government is interested in my phone calls, I'd like to help them out. After all, they sent me a nice income tax refund. Therefore, I am recording a typical day's worth of calls.
To lawyer, concerning some $1500 that is owing to me; to hairdresser, disclosing the fact that my roots are showing; to daughter, discussing a cute pair of shoes I saw and wondering if I should buy them, even though I have enough shoes; to father, inquiring how he feels (he has been having back trouble); to Comcast, chewing them out concerning another one of the inscrutable bills I received from them.
From daughter, wondering whether I had seen the LAT article about her; from friend, who says my e-mails are too short; from foot doctor, reminding me of pending appointment.
I hope the person who has to listen to this stuff isn't too bored.