On this snowy evening, the nearly full moon rises over the laboratory. Our old refractor dome is just visible on top, constrasted against tenuous cloudbanks. Thin clouds -- this night turned cold. 2005:12:16 22:15:17

The big news of the hour is not the fact that Bush has been using the NSA to spy on Americans; frankly, I think everyone's pretty much assumed that every President did that to some extent. That our dear George would give a live address to brag about his ability to break federal law with impunity, is somewhat more unusual. We're at "war" in some vague sense, so he can do whatever he wants. After all, what are we going to do about it?

Or, sorry, that should probably be King George. Rulers invested wth absolute power are only called Presidents in a mockery of democracy. Given his evangelical base's insistence on near-ecstatic devotion to his person and plans, God-Emperor George (of Dune!) isn't too far off, either.

But if it's the spying that makes you queasy after all, consider this ... they're not just in the phones. Take the Inter-Library Loan system, for instance. (Linkage via Dean)

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

Man, all that time I just spent in the Middle East. How hard do you think it would be for me to attract the attention of the DHS, I wonder? Sure, you say, they'll see posts like this when checking over my file once I trigger the watch lists. But suppose this very paragraph was a ruse to throw them off the scent? How would they know until they asked me? Maybe it's time for me to ILL up some Hamas literature.

[Update: 28 Dec 2005] Turns out, the kid made up his chat with the DHS. How annoying! So it might be a little harder than this to score a visit from the spooks.


My little sister's blog was "accidently" deleted when she found out she needed security clearance for her new job.

Indeed. I knew that spying went on. I knew the orginal Patriot Act did things that went beyond legality. But my political cynicism just doesn't stem my outrage this time. Bush is a criminal, in so many ways.

When the original Patriot Act was issued, I was a librarian in college. All of us that worked at the library wanted to rebel against the Act. None of us felt comfortable with the thought that we were a link in spying on people.

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on December 17, 2005 11:18 PM.

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