Aunt Sadie's "Terrorist Activity"


Remember these ads?

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy spent more than $3 million for two TV ads during Sunday's Super Bowl. One ad asked viewers: "Where do terrorists get their money?" The answer: "If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you."

According to Vice President Cheney, the government is not interested in phone calls to your "Aunt Sadie." (It's so narcissistic to think the government cares about your personal life!) Does that still hold when I call Aunt Sadie to score some meth?

Ron Bailey calls those ads "full of crap" here.

NEXT: John Gibson, mk. VIII

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  1. the government is not interested in phone calls

    Heh. What they’re doing goes beyond mere phone calls. If you read the lengthy list here, you might get the idea that there’s nothing they don’t want to know.

  2. “If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you.”

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why big pharma is financing jihadis. Little help, here?

  3. Incidentally, I’m surprised that no one has raised the question of whether the current prosecution of Joe Nacchio is partially retribution for his refusal to cooperate with the spy program back in 2001.

  4. Q Do you think the pendulum is in the right place now?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do think it’s swung back. If you look at it from a historical standpoint, the presidency in the late 1800s was a relatively weak organization, a relatively weak institution. I described Teddy Roosevelt as a strong President — to some extent, maybe Woodrow Wilson. F.D.R. really established a sense of the modern presidency during the Depression and World War II. And of course, World War II changed circumstances so that instead of demobilizing at the end of the war, we maintained robust military forces afterwards because of the Cold War. Circumstances change. I think you’re right, probably the end of the next administration, you had the nadir of the modern presidency in terms of authority and legitimacy, then a number of limitations that were imposed in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate. But I do think that to some extent now, we’ve been able to restore the legitimate authority of the presidency.

    Not that you needed another reason to dislike/hate Cheney, but I thought I’d just toss that out there.

  5. expect a court to recognize the “narcoterrorist” exception to the 4th amendment soon…

  6. What Fourth Amendment, bruce?

  7. “If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you.”

    But if you grow your own, you are instantly a trafficker, since there is no such thing as a mature pot plant that weighs less than an ounce.

  8. They looked us in the face and lied when they said they were getting warrants for wiretaps.

    They looked us in the face and lied when they said they were only looking at international phone calls.

    But this time, they’re looking us right in the face, and assuring us that they are not actually listening to our phone calls. So it’s ok.

  9. THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s important that you be clear that we’re talking about individuals who are al Qaeda or have an association with al Qaeda, who we have reason to believe are part of that terrorist network. There are two requirements, and that’s one of them. It’s not just random conversations. If you’re calling Aunt Sadie in Paris, we’re probably not really interested.

    Well, “association” is pretty open-ended, isn’t it? Shall we play Six Degrees of al Qaeda? (I’d bet we could show Cheney’s “association” in less than three.) And what, I wonder, is the second requirement?

  10. Did somebody smuggle a cell phone to Aunt Sadie up there in Ross Perot’s attic?

    What was the name of the aunt played by Jonathan Winters? by Charlie Ruggles?

  11. I think Winters played Aunt Gabby, BICBW.

  12. I’d just like to say that I am genuinely pleased by the responses to this on Hit and Run. In the past, when the feds claimed expansive powers for themselves for the ostensible purpose of fighting terrorists, a lot of H&R posters seemed willing to cut them a break, and castigated those of us who expressed concern that we might be on a slippery slope. I used to fear that some people had no limits, that they would make excuses for anything and everything.

    I admit that I was wrong. It seems that H&R posters do have their limits, that there are indeed lines that they will not cross when it comes to civil liberties. They may not draw the lines where I would draw them, but they do draw lines, and that is important. My only hope is that the next time they claim some expansive power, and assure us that this power will only be used against the bad guys, maybe the people that I used to spar with will take a firmer stance against the feds’ claims of unlimited power. This just shows that nobody in power can be trusted with unchecked power, that every allegation and assurance made by the gov’t must be taken with a grain of salt. If they can lie when they tell us that they won’t in discriminately invade the privacy of innocent citizens, they can lie when they claim that the guy being tortured in a secret prison really is a terrorist, and that putting him on trial would endanger national security.

    Anyway, I am very pleased by the responses that I’m reading.

  13. YKWS? PWUOA.*

    *You know what sucks? People who use obscure acronyms.

  14. thoreau,
    You are just trying to hide the fact, with your bloviations, you did not know Charlie Ruggles played Aunt Maudie.

    What is BICBW?

    Did you hear Dame Edna cold-cocked somebody recently?
    They had to have deserved it.

  15. AMEN to that, jf.

  16. BICBW = But I Could Be Wrong

  17. The multi-billion dollar program, which began before 9/11 but has been accelerated since then.

    What’s this? Carnivore and Echelon existed before Bush!? It can’t be! Everyone knows that George Bush is the root of all evil!

  18. It goes well beyond logging phone calls for terrrorist activity. It will be used to track political enemies, journalists, bloggers, drug traffic, you name it.

  19. I’m not sure who thoreau had in mind, though probably not me since I have only recently begun to post comments here fairly regularly. I supported the decision to invade Iraq and continue to believe it was the right thing to do notwithstanding my belief that the administration acted in significant measure for the wrong reasons and has thereafter done a poor job in post-Hussein Iraq. But I have also consistently held that the post 9/11 domestic measures taken by this administration have been more dangerous than the terrorist threat as we know it. Sadly, I am convinced that the American people in general are making a fool’s bargain of their freedoms for a false sense of security.

    I could, however, be wrong. The administration may actually have thwarted a large number of real threats and attempts at repeats of 9/11 of which we are unaware. But that’s the problem. We don’t know and the repeated claims that revealing these matters would itself undermine security strains credibility.

    Let’s consider the most dangerous threat, terrorist possession of nuclear weapons, and examine the long term realities. We can’t put the nuclear genie back in the bottle. The technology and vast quantities of weapons grade fissionable material exist and will continue to exist. Not for a few more years or decades but forever. Thus, if we take Bush seriously in renaming the War On Global Terrorism the Long War, we are faced with the reality that what we are really being told to expect (to borrow from Joe Haldeman) is the Forever War. Even complete world-wide nuclear disarmament would not eliminate the real possibility that someday, somewhere some enemy of the U.S. will succeed in using nuclear weapons. Chemical and biological weapons pose a lesser threat, but the logic is even more compelling there: no security measures can now or ever will guarantee the prevention of those threats from becoming a reality.

    Very well, so there are no sure things. What, then, is the trade-off? If we are expected to live, contra Kant, in a world of perpetual ‘war’ against such threats, what price are we willing to pay to reduce those threats, bearing in mind the marginal utility of each additional and costly preventive measure? And by price, of course I mean not only demands on the public burse but the cost in lost liberty.

    We can’t say because we don’t know, and we don’t know because the administration insists we must trust it. But it has demonstrated too often now that it is unworthy of that trust in no small part because it has refused to provide adequate evidence that the price is worth the cost. We might forgive the first or even the second offense of the speeding, reckless driver who persuades us that an emergency required him to break the law and drive in that manner. We cannot pay serious credence to repeated resorts to that excuse. Absent a much better defense, the time has come to revoke that license.

  20. The administration may actually have thwarted a large number of real threats and attempts at repeats of 9/11 of which we are unaware. But that’s the problem.

    I the past, these discussions have fallen into the dumpster after what I’m about to say, but the point remains…

    On a scale of one to ten, with one being 9/11 and ten being, say, London during the Blitz, how high up are you willing to go before you’re willing compromise on due process or probable cause, etc.?

    My answer is ten–which is to say, at ten, I’m still not willing to compromise on those things. …and I have a word for those who are willing to compromise at one on that scale, and it isn’t “realists”, who are concerned about security. It’s “cowards”. …and sometimes I point a finger at such people, particularly when they’re public servants, and I call them out as such.

    When I talk about patriotism, a big part of what I’m talking about is loyalty to the Constitution and the values contained therein. …and I tend to think of other people as being patriotic to the extent that they support the Constitution and its values. …when I express that, so often, things seem to get lost in the translation.

    …I came up with a good analogy the other day. When I see people defend some of this President’s actions, actions that seem to me to have clearly violated the Constitution, those defenders look to me the same way pro-immigrant groups marching under an American flag look to anti-immigration activists. …To me, that is, they look like they’re using American imagery to betray America and its principles.

    …you can imagine what I think of an American President who projects the Constitution as a death pact.

    All this is just to say that there’s another problem beyond whether the measures in question are effective. Even if they are, sir, I don’t think I want them. …maybe there is a limit to my courage, but even if there is–it’s a lot higher than a ten for this American. …and I remain stubbornly hopeful that the American people would persevere, rather than sell our principles short, if only we were better led.

  21. BTW, it looks like Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile also held out on the NSA:

    Unfortunately, according to the same article, Cingular and Sprint Nextel “refused to deny participation in the NSA program.”

  22. I would have been worse.

  23. It does not hurt to point out that drug trafficers want tough anti-drug laws and vigorous enforcement. That raises the profitability.

    Absent that, there’s no money to be made.

  24. Want to be even more sad? Check this out:
    What limits should be placed on the NSA’s power to moniter people?

    I want to cry.

  25. “In the 21st century, with the dynamics of the world at a breaking point concerning the recognition of the U.S. as the one and only legitimate world leader, it is of insurmountable importance that the American people, as well as the leaders and populations of our allies, accept the role of the increased powers of our security and intelligence agencies.”

    mmmm…someone likes the taste of leather, do they?

  26. That Fox News page made me feel physically ill.

  27. AOL, but that Fox page was sickening. If you were trying to make up parodies of the safety-at-any-cost crowd, you couldn’t do better than that. I can only hope that wasn’t a representative response. The number of “Search me! I have nothing to hide!” posts was unbelievable. I can only hope those people would come to their senses if things actually started getting intrusive…they’re probably just fat and happy because they can’t actually see any searches happening, so to them it’s just like the magic National Security Fairies are making everything better while they sleep.

  28. Thanks to context clues I figured out BICBW all by myself. A also figured out a long time ago that private phone calls were fiction. Why did the courts try to extend privacy rights to conversations that could span thousands of miles anyway? Especially considering that nowdays most, if not all, the calls are broadcast over the airwaves. Would I expect a right to privacy for a conversation at the food court in the mall?

  29. Nicely put

    “Schneier on Security: NSA Eavesdropping–This is the line that’s done best for me on the radio: “The NSA would like to remind everyone to call their mother’s this Sunday. They need to calibrate their system.”

  30. Privacy can only be maintained where the cost of moving, storing, and sorting information is high.

    Technology is the real enemy.

    Government is a second order effect.

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