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2006 May 19 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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We’re On Hold

Today on All Things Considered they had a conversation with Carol Wilson, editor at-large for Telephony magazine.

Her explanation triggered two memories that are making me uneasy about what we really know about the NSA data collection program.

She reminded me that when you pick up your telephone you are connected to a control circuit or channel that is outside of the voice channel. That channel is where the accounting takes place: the numbers of both ends of the conversation are recorded, the caller id information is retrieved, and the timer starts.

If the phone being called is busy, or needs to be forwarded, or any of the other “housekeeping” operations takes place, it is on that circuit, not the main voice trunks. If you tap that circuit you will get all of the accounting information, but none of the actual conversation.

So now we know that it is the accounting circuits that are being tapped wholesale, and we have a grip on the situation – except, those circuits may not involve the telco.

By now you have probably noticed that if you have a problem with your cable or telephone service, the technician who shows up is not an employee of the company. They are generally guys who have a contract with the company. The telcos and cable companies have just about eliminated their repair people to save money. Well, the repair service isn’t all that gets split off.

When they started the utility deregulation in California a number of electric companies started reducing their expenses by outsourcing everything they did. I know for a fact that some of outsourced their billing, because I had a client who printed and mailed utility bills from computer tapes, and the tapes weren’t coming from the utility.

If the telcos have outsourced their billing, the government would go to the billing company, not the telco, for the information. In the same way, they would go to the company that publishes the phone book for the names and addresses that go with the numbers, which, again, may not be the telco.

Update: TPM Muckraker in their article, Did Telcos Hire “Scapegoat” To Give NSA Phone Records?, has the same suspicion.

May 19, 2006   2 Comments

Pat Roberts, Sniveling Wimp

Shakespeare’s Sister, among others, reproduces this statement: “I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties, but you have no civil liberties if you are dead.” This was said by Senator Pat Roberts [R-Kansas], Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in explaining why he refuses to do anything about the illegal activities of the Shrubbery.

Pat, as many of your chosen pundits would be more than happy to explain to you, the Munich Agreement did not provide Conservative Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, “peace in our time.”

Benjamin Franklin noted: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” And at the conclusion of his best known speech Patrick Henry intoned: “…Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Now that is has been determined by your own words that you feel no obligation to “support and defend the Constitution” as required by the oath you took when you entered public service, why don’t you stick your tail between your legs like the whipped hound you are and crawl home?

In case you don’t understand, Pat, your personal choice about which of your rights you would give up is of no interest to me.  You have chosen to represent the interests of the citizens of Kansas and the state that produced Amelia Earhart and Dwight Eisenhower might not share your cowardice.

May 19, 2006   2 Comments

Just Another Photo Op

Everyone has probably seen the picture, Watertiger titles “Gidget Goes Gobi”, of the Shrubbery in a Border Patrol Chenowth Exodus sandrail¹ in violation of the Arizona seat belt law.

[Of course they need a custom-made vehicle from a company in Duncan Hunter’s [R-CA-52] district, don’t be silly]

He apparently has nothing better to do for his $400K/year.

1. A sandrail has a manufactured tubular frame, while a dune buggy uses a modified Volkswagen Beetle body. Get with it, Dude. [What some people think is important is a “puzzlement”.]

May 19, 2006   2 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Katy vs. Car

Friday Cat Blogging

I’m not afraid of that car, she always stops.

[Editor: Katy is one of the kittens from the ladder. She has an attitude. She won’t get out of the way when my Mother drives in. She moves for everyone else, but apparently knows that my Mother will drive around her.

Friday Ark

May 19, 2006   9 Comments

Hayden Lies and No One Notices

CNN has an overview of the hearings, which is painful for anyone with a memory to read.

NTodd focuses on the most egregious lie about the effectiveness of Hayden pet project, and Larry Beinart expands on the point.

This is my take:

Get real, you sniveling little twit. You were a three-star flag officer and a staff weenie, which makes you a busboy at the Pentagon. No matter what you had, no one in this administration was listening. Rumsfeld barely acknowledges the existence of four-star flag officers, and then, only if they agree with him and his magic plans to “reform the military”. You wouldn’t even have been able to get a memo past a receptionist at the Pentagon.

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May 19, 2006   2 Comments