Friday May 12, 2006
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Once again official Washington has its knickers in a twist over something the National Security Agency is doing to protect us from the people who are trying to kill us.
Today's projectile-sweat-inducing story came from USA Today with the headline: "NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls" over a lede written by reporter Leslie Cauley:
"The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans…"
If you didn't read the sentence in the middle of the second graf you might assume that President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are sitting around at night sipping hot Bosco and listening in on your phone calls to your colleague about how screwed up your boss is.
Here is the sentence in the middle of the second graf:
"This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations."
WIRETAPP… Wait. What? Does not involve listening to or recording? What's the big deal?
Don't these people watch Law & Order: SVU reruns? They solve EVERY case by getting a listing of the perp's cell phone calls from the phone company, find out he's been calling the Catholic girl's school five times a day for the previous three weeks, they arrest him; show over - roll the credits.
I think we are missing a potential money-making opportunity for the NSA here. If they know every number you are calling, then they also know the numbers you are not calling. They could set up a service to remind you of people to call:
Hello! This is YOUR National Security Agency.
We notice you have not called your mother in three weeks. If you have broken your fingers and can't dial the phone, we'll be happy to place the call for you, at no additional charge.
This wasn't probably big news where you live, but the sale of the Washington Nationals (neé the Montreal Expos) to a local family group was very big news here in Your Nation's Capital.
Because this is Washington, DC everything is either politically motivated, racially based, or both.
The group which ultimately got to pay $450 million for team is headed by a local developer, Ted Lerner. Lerner's group, it was felt, did not have enough minority partners which was a big deal to two members of the Washington, DC city council, Marion Barry (convicted on, and jailed for, a crack-cocaine charge while Mayor) and another guy Vincent B. (Agent) Orange.
The Lerners added African-American members to their bidding team but that's not what got my attention. What did, was the reporting that Ted Lerner's sons-in-law, Robert Tannenbaum and Edward Cohen, would help in the management of the team.
When I was growing up, guys named Tannenbaum and Cohen were the minorities.
I was in a parking garage Wednesday afternoon when an Associated Press reporter, Nedra Pickler called to ask me about something President Bush had said about his brother, Jeb who happens to be the Governor of Florida:
"I would like to see Jeb run [for President] at some point in time, but I have no idea if that's his intention or not."
Ms. Pickler asked me what I thought, so I leaned on the railing of the parking garage and mused about it, including this insight:
"Galen points out, Jeb Bush has dealt with a lot of high-profile issues including hurricanes, immigration and sprawling development in one of the most important political states."
My Blackberry started buzzing with "Google Alerts" about 30 minutes later as Ms. Pickler's piece hit the wires.
As of yesterday afternoon there were about 116 citations quoting me on websites from China to South Africa to Florida.
You probably don't have a "Google Alert" on yourself as I do. I could tell you that I have an alert set on "Rich Galen" for exactly this circumstance. I have to be certain I was quoted in context, the quote was faithfully reported, and like that.
The real reason is: I have an ego the size of Saskatchewan.
On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to all the newspaper stories noted above, Bosco, how I arrived at that last line, a Mullfoto of a dreadful new product from Coca Cola, and a Catchy Caption of the Day.
Copyright © 2006 Richard A. Galen
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