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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND. It's really best when attempting to explain something that is questionable on the face of the thing to at least stick to a single story.
Shillyshallying about with "we didn't do it, and if we did, we had good reasons, and here are five of them, three of which contradict each other" doesn't tend to take you very far in the direction you want to be going.
"We believe there's a constitutional power granted to presidents as well as, this case, a statutory power," Bush said. "And I'm intending to use that power."
It is one of several explanations on the topic from Bush and his aides, who have provided at least two separate rationales for why they did not ask for statutory authority for the program. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the administration had considered seeking legislation but determined it would be impossible to get, adding later in the same news conference that authorities did not want to expose the program's existence. White House spokesman Scott McClellan has echoed the latter point, saying the administration feared that details of the classified program would be exposed publicly.
Gonzales and other officials, for example, have repeatedly said that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which governs secret surveillance in the United States, is too cumbersome to be applied to the NSA eavesdropping program. Yet the Justice Department raised concerns about a 2002 bill to loosen FISA requirements.
Before the program's existence was revealed, several administration officials also emphasized in testimony and public statements that the NSA was prohibited from engaging in domestic surveillance -- even as the agency was clearly doing so under the authority of Bush's secret order that established the program.
An amendment to FISA proposed by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) would have lowered the standard to be met for authorizing surveillance of non-U.S. citizens, from "probable cause" to "reasonable suspicion" that the target was an agent of a terrorist group. The Justice Department did not offer support for DeWine's amendment because of "significant legal and practical issues," according to department statements.
Confusion over the issue deepened further yesterday after officials discovered two versions of a Justice statement on the legislation. One, which was posted on the Federation of American Scientists Web site and quoted in media reports, noted possible constitutional concerns. The other, held by the Senate intelligence committee, did not include that issue. Officials could not explain the disparity.
A Justice spokeswoman said this week that the previous opinion did not conflict with current legal justifications for the NSA spying because "probable cause" required under FISA is "essentially the same" as the standard used in the NSA program: "a reasonable basis to believe" that a target is linked to al Qaeda or an affiliate.
But Timothy H. Edgar, a national security lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, also said the NSA program clearly operates under a lower legal standard allowed only in limited circumstances, such as when police to frisk suspicious people on the street.
"That's never been considered acceptable for searching someone or listening to their telephone," Edgar said.
Bush and his top aides have repeatedly stressed that "Congress" had been briefed on the program over the past four years, but have often neglected to mention that the briefings were limited to the "Gang of Eight": the speaker and minority leader of the House; the majority and minority leaders of the Senate; and the chairmen and ranking Democrats on the two intelligence committees. And they were barred from taking notes or discussing what they heard with other lawmakers or their staffs.
Some critics, including a group of relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, have also focused on previous statements by Gen. Michael V. Hayden -- the deputy intelligence director who formerly headed the NSA -- that now appear to be, at best, incomplete.
For example, Hayden and other NSA staff members told the House-Senate inquiry into the attacks that "they do not want to be perceived as focusing NSA capabilities against U.S. persons in the United States," said the panel's report. "The Director and his staff were unanimous that lessons NSA learned as a result of Congressional investigations during the 1970's should not be forgotten."
Hayden suggested similar limitations in an appearance before the House intelligence committee in October 2002, telling Porter J. Goss, then the committee chairman, that the NSA "would have no authorities" to pursue Osama bin Laden if he entered the United States. The NSA program was at least a year old by that time, and Goss -- now the CIA director -- was one of the few members of Congress briefed on it. Experts also say Hayden was wrong to suggest that bin Laden would enjoy the same legal protections as U.S. citizens or residents.
Inexplicably to me, a number of highly smart bloggers, from Matt Yglesias to Glenn Greenwald to Kevin Drum, seem to simply accept General Hayden's word in public speeches as conclusive on various matters. Despite the fact that no intelligence official would reveal secrets in public. Despite the fact that General Hayden is a proven public fibber on these matters.
This strikes me as bizarre and naive.
Here is Kevin Drum, cheerily taking General Hayden's word:
Here's another point related to General Hayden's admission today that the NSA's domestic spying program isn't some kind of dazzling high tech black op, but merely garden variety wiretapping that was done outside normal FISA channels because NSA couldn't meet the "probable cause" standard normally needed to get a warrant issued.
Etc. Apparently James Risen is a liar or a fool or misinformed, or something. I have no idea how any of these guys can say this stuff and reconcile it with Risen, and what we know.
Contrary to the excuse offered up by Bush followers that this illegal eavesdropping was all necessitated by some sort of super-complex data mining method which rendered FISA an obsolete relic, Gen. Hayden made clear that this is not the case. Bush's eavesdropping program entailed garden-variety eavesdropping on telephone conversations - not some new technologically advanced data mining program.
This is all very touching.
As I said in comments, in between the p*nis enlargement spam comments Tapped cheerily is indifferent to clean out of non-long threads, to that post of Matthew's:
"What seems most likely to me, and what was seemingly confirmed by General Hayden (and certainly has been strongly hinted at by James Risen), is that the results of this data mining were being used, without DOJ or judicial intervention, to make decisions about who to eavesdrop on."
I'm a bit puzzled by this, although I probably just haven't seen the posts that tweety is talking about. I've not read anyone anywhere who wrote about the data-mining aspects who neglected to note or who ignored that, of course the data-mining and tapping, both via master switches and individual wiretaps went together inextricably.
But I only read an immensely tiny fraction of what's out there, of course, and so I must have simply not seen the writers and writing that Tweety has in mind.
(A couple of mine own past posts on the topic here and here.)
I see that one of the posts Tweety linked to is yours, but I don't see a word about data-mining in what you wrote. So more puzzlement from me.
Good to see the Prospect is doing a good job of making sure the penis enlargement comments stay up, though.
Another linked post was Josh Marshall's, and I'd missed that one, but I have to say that when I read Josh say things like this: "The key point is that we know that this wasn't some novel technology but garden-variety wiretapping," and I've also seen Glen Greenwald, clearly a very smart guy, also simply accept the word of General Hayden in a public speech on this, I have to say that I find this incredibly bizarre and naive.
Maybe Hayden is telling the perfect truth. It's entirely possible.
But I have trouble understanding why anyone would simply automatically assume that that is so. Gee, is there any possibility that the General might not be inclined to blurt out the details of one of the most secret programs the NSA has ever engaged in in a public speech?
Apparently the answer is naaaaaah.
I'll sign on to that when I have actual reason to believe it's the truth beyond what a serving official says in public. Call me crazy.
And someone who's read, completely as an amateur, quite a lot about intelligence matters and history over the past three decades.
Matt's too busy to respond to comments, of course, but there are fresh p*enis enlargement comments there for your enjoyment at Tapped!
Read The Rest Scale: as interested. I realize these guys are all Big Name Bloggers (BNBs), and I'm just a little-known slob, so naturally they must be right, and I must be wrong.
Gary - Speaking only for myself, I don't believe Gen. Hayden's statement because Gen. Hayden said it. There are a lot of statements from him the veracity of which I have doubted based on available evidence.
The reason I believe this statement about data-mining is because it is in the Administration's interest to claim that they were data-mining. That would make the case more compelling that they had to violate FISA, because FISA warrants couldn't be issued for that sort of surveillance. Bush followers were making that argument for some time and Gen. Hayden pulled the rug out from under them.
When someone makes a statement contrary to their interest - and that's how I see Gen. Hayden's statement that they were not operating outside of FISA due to data-mining - I tend to believe the statement much more. People lie in order to bolster their case, not to undermine it.
Thank you most kindly for taking the time to respond, Glenn, if I might call you that.
"When someone makes a statement contrary to their interest [...] I tend to believe the statement much more...."
Certainly I agree with that, having just said the same thing the other day in a post.
But since the Admin's responses have been utterly incoherent and contradictory to date, I don't see why one should expect them to be forthcoming and coherent and rational. They simply haven't been. And that's not precisely inconsistent with their behavior in many other matters, as well, of course.
Setting aside the normal and reasonable professional practice of utmost secrecy by the No Such Agency, this administration has fetishized secrecy for-its-own-sake beyond any other in history, beyond even that of Richard Nixon's, the only other contender, and Ronald Reagan's, the distant second, and all others in the post-1947 National Security Era.
It would be inconsistent of them to mention data-mining without being compelled to. Have they yet admitted to compromising the switches? It's possible I've missed it, but if so, I'd love to see a cite.
Kevin Drum responded with a thoughtful e-mail, and I responded to him in e-mail, a couple of hours ago. I'll quote some of what I said.
Re not admitting to compromising the switches: If not, then clearly he's -- understandably -- keeping relevant secrets secret. And thus we certainly still know little that is "confirmed" in any official sense, and thus my skepticism as to how much more we don't know.
How do you explain the quotes from Senator Graham and others about "I came out of the room with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy"? Or Jay Rockefeller's letter about not being able to understand the technology? Wiretapping is not something that's hard to understand at all.
More subtly, what distinction was McClellan trying to draw between "monitoring" and eavesdropping when he said:
"Q If it became useful and necessary to listen in on conversations between two people within the United States, does the President believe has the legal authority to do that now?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are other tools available to us. He talked about that very issue yesterday. FISA is an important tool. We make use of FISA. But this is a difference between monitoring and detecting and preventing. And there are differences here that General Hayden and the Attorney General talked about yesterday, as well."
And here, from the Times: http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2005/12/warrantless-nsa-eavesdropping.html
"In the days after the attacks, the C.I.A. determined that Al Qaeda, which had found a haven in Afghanistan, was responsible. Congress quickly passed a resolution authorizing the president to conduct a war on terrorism, and the security agency was secretly ordered to begin conducting comprehensive coverage of all communications into and out of Afghanistan, including those to and from the United States, current and former officials said."
"...comprehensive coverage of all communications into and out of Afghanistan...."
What do we make of that?
But I definitely am highly inclined to approach the words of any serving official about intelligence matters with the deepest skepticism. Not because I believe they are partisan or anything like that, but simply because it is their duty to prevaricate to protect the nation's secrets. And, yes, sometimes that requires lying to the press, and even to U.S. Senators. That's about all I'm saying as regards that.
In my Poor Man post on Hayden's wiretap comments I assumed that he was obfuscating, rather than lying outright. The point I intended to make was that his comments could be technically correct and still allow for TIA style hoovering; the "data-mining" or "pattern analysis" would use call and e-mail records (to, from, duration), rather than the content of calls or e-mails: the output from this process would then be used to pick targets for actual, "listen-in", old-fashioned-y monitoring. It seemed to me that the big timers were getting confused about the fact that "data mining" of call records and "wiretapping" of individual numbers aren't mutually exclusive. I have a feeling I didn't make that very clear. If I can conquer my surpassing laziness maybe I'll attempt to rectify that over at TPMI.
"My assumption has been that they are both data-mining and doing garden-variety wiretapping illegally. There is certainly no reason to assume they would restrict themselves to one or the other."
See Glenn's statement just above, again, for instance: "The reason I believe this statement about data-mining is because it is in the Administration's interest to claim that they were data-mining."
He believed this. He was, alas, wrong. Etc. Certainly, but as confirmed by yesterday's Washington Post story, it's as I've said all along: the data-mining and machine-scanning of eaves-dropping/interception at the switches is used to produce direct human interfacing with the produced material.
And more directly to the point in this post, Matt, Kevin, Glenn, Sifu Tweety, Josh Marshall, and countless others, were all wrong to insist that General Hayden's denials of this were credible, believable, and to be assumed to be correct, and that I was wrong to point out that this was naive and foolish and apt to be wrong.