Talk of NSA Spying actually goes further back than that

While we’re on the subject of the NSA and intercepting international emails, I’m surprised how few people remember ECHELON.

It’s about five years old now, but the reports of the intercepts of global communications data were troubling enough to spark an investigation by the EU Parliament. The year-long investigation confirmed the existance of ECHELON, but in the end also conceded there was little which could be done about it.

The EU Report doesn’t seem to be on the EU Parliament’s website any longer, but it can still be found here (WARNING: This 200 page long PDF is fairly large, so if you’re on a dialup, expect a wait).

It’s always something, isn’t it?

In case you haven’t heard yet, or were confused by our titles from late last night like “Bush Won’t Discuss Report of NSA Spying” and “Rice Denies Illegal Domestic Spying”… Bush has since ‘acknowledged approving eavesdropping’.

I’ll spare you any further commentary on it, since I already did so on my own weblog

Addendum: Looks like USA Today updated the article recently and now it’s more about the Patriot Act than the NSA spying. If you want to see what he actually said about the NSA spying, you’ll just have to read the transcript of his weekly radio address

200-Fold Increase in Spending… for What?

Who’d think the US Department of Health and Human Services would make for such interesting fodder? While its not near so glamorous as the resignation of, say, John Ashcroft or Tom Ridge, the closing comments of the outgoing Tommy Thompson raise some compelling questions of their own. Here’s what I found interesting:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson resigned Friday, warning of a potential global outbreak of the flu and health-related terror attacks. “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do,” he said.

That’s not surprising in and of itself, since there’s a dire prediction of impending doom coming out of DC approximately once every 30 seconds. But when we combine that with the interesting fact that

The former Wisconsin governor has warned about food safety issues since before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and pushed for more money for safeguards. Spending on food security has increased from $800,000 to $150 million during Thompson’s tenure, and there are eight times as many food inspections now as in 2001, according to HHS figures.

So we start with a problem that doesn’t exist, namely, terror attacks against the food supply. They literally pour money into the program, an almost 200-fold increase in funds and an eightfold increase in manpower to prevent future attacks, even though past attacks have never happened. And now what?

Now we’re warned, by seemingly the only man who even considered this a problem in the first place, the same man who fought tooth and nail to get this incredible increase in funding that now he “cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do”.

Is it just me or did Tommy just get away with admitting he wasted hundreds of millions of dollars without even a hint of an apology?

We Can‘t Win: Addendum

It took him a little more than the 24 hours one emailer predicted, but G.W. has indeed waffled on yesterday’s proclamation that we can’t win the terror war.

In his best impersonation of Matt Hasselbeck, George has now promised a victory he can’t possibly deliver. The question yet remains, will it be a costly interception, or are we just waiting for the turnover on downs?