Here's what happened. After 9/11, authorities found a bunch of e-mail addresses and phone numbers in the phones and computers of confirmed terrorists. They tracked down those leads. Most of the people the NSA started eavesdropping on - about 7,000 - lived overseas, and their phone calls were to other foreigners living abroad. But, according to Risen's book, "about 500 people" living in the U.S. who were in contact with suspected terrorists had their communications tapped. Risen calls this "large-scale" spying on the American people even though, as the Weekly Standard recently noted, this constitutes "1.7 ten-thousandths of 1 percent of the U.S. population."
Now, forgive me for not loading up my car with bottled water and canned goods and heading off into the hills to fight with the partisans, but I just don't see what the big deal is. Yes, yes, "slippery slopes" and all that. Gotcha. What else do you have? Because that isn't enough. If you go looking for slippery slopes, you'll always find them. That doesn't mean they're really there. The Patriot Act was called a banana peel on the path to hell, and yet it has turned out to be very difficult to even keep it alive.
Friday, January 13, 2006
The Wiretapping Horror
Jonah Goldberg gets it right, as best I can tell:
Posted by Tom at 9:57 AM