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Time for - *Two Can Play this Game*: since the EU ruling powers think that they are so morally superior than the barbaric Yanks who actually execute their child rapists/murderers etc(not enough of them!) and think that it gives them the right not extradict murdering criminals wanted by the USA that face capital punishment and try them themselves(as was the case of Hamedi) - the US Justice Department should refuse to extradict wanted criminals by EU nations that wash up on our shores. The grounds for this is that "they won't get a just punishment" and either let them roam free here, or try them ourselves and send the bill to whatever EU nation said criminal came from. See how they like it;-)

Free Mumia! He's innocent! ...no wait, err

But seriously, no we don't want to refuse to extradite criminals. Quite aside from not allowing ourselves to be goaded into doing something wrong, why make their problems our problems? Let them deal with their own individual scumbags.

Back to joking, what we need to do is to export liberalism to more countries we want to see fail. Well, only half joking.

Of course, we have this recent case in Vermont where the judge gave only 60 days to a child rapist. Raped over a period of 4 years. She was 7 years old when it began. Nothing funny about that. Too bad we don't have the death penalty for rape. If Coleman had gotten death for his earlier conviction of attempted rape, then we wouldn't have had this problem in the first place.

Of course, I think the NSA leakers (including reporters) should be subject to the death penalty for treason. Hanging by the neck until dead would be good. But that's just me. I suspect most Germans would think I'm some kind of barbarian. Actually just kidding about the hanging part, I don't believe in torture. Just kill them quickly.

"... der 18 Jahre in der Todeszelle gesessen hat- und das nachgewiesenermaßen unschuldig- (who’s demonstrably innocent)"


Thank you for this, David. The self-righteousness of this man is disturbing.

California just struck a blow for senior rights by reafirming the right of the elderly to be executed.
Clarence Allen caused 3 murders while serving a life sentence, thus belieing those idiots who think a life sentence protects society.

Back to joking, what we need to do is to export liberalism to more countries we want to see fail. Well, only half joking.

Now, now...we should refrain from the use of WMDs. If we must use WMDs, then something a little more humane than liberalism--like mustard gas and nerve agent.

@Walter E. Wallis
Clarence Allen caused 3 murders while serving a life sentence, thus belieing those idiots who think a life sentence protects society.

Ach, you beat me to it! I would just like to point out that one of those 3 people murdered was the 17 year old girlfriend of his son.

Mr. Allen was on death row for 18 years - one year longer than that poor girl had of life in total.

I am just wondering when that famously effective EU Soft Power(*registrated trademark, EU L.L.C*)is going to kick in? I accept that Iraq under Saddam was way,way,way more of a lovely place due to French/German Soft Power(*registrated trademark, EU L.L.C*), mass grave victims being given cigarettes, mothers allowed to be gassed with thier children, etc. I'm a little confused about Iran? Has Iran had Soft Power(*registrated trademark, EU L.L.C*)applied, is going to have it,....


Iran to hang teenage girl attacked by rapists

Tehran, Iran, Jan. 07 – An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

Last week, a court in the city of Rasht, northern Iran, sentenced Delara Darabi to death by hanging charged with murder when she was 17 years old. Darabi has denied the charges.

In August 2004, Iran’s Islamic penal system sentenced a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, to death after a sham trial, in which she was accused of committing “acts incompatible with chastity”.

The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. Atefeh personally defended herself and told the religious judge that he should punish those who force women into adultery, not the victims. She was eventually hanged in public in the northern town of Neka.

http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5184

Carl,

A story line we have all seen before.

It just has the wrong cast of characters to be of any interest in Germany

James: Careful now, you're in danger of winding up on the front cover of Stern as a typical American warmonger. Although, I'm having a hard time coming up with a reason why that would be a bad thing.

@oh Eric

"Too bad we don't have the death penalty for rape."

The last man executed by the US military in 1961 was found guilty of rape and sentencted to death. From my recollections, you still can be sentenced to death under the UCMJ if a military court finds it applicable.

Historical note: Over the course of a year since the US Army landed in Normandy (44-45), over 49 US soldiers were tried and convicted of rape. All had their sentences carried out and were executed by firing squad. *source: Stephen Ambrose, "Citizen Soldiers"

It seems the red Army didn't have such "barbaric" punishments when it came to their own soldiers.

As has been pointed out many times before, Europeans are not all that anti-death penalty. In fact, with few exceptions the polls show Europeans are pro-death penalty. Ditto for Canada. Most civilized people believe that the death penalty should at least be an option for punishing vicious, cold-blooded murderers.

"Even now, large percentages in most European nations favor the death penalty, according to polls. More countries continue to abolish it to meet a condition of inclusion in the European Union. Poland, for example, abolished the death penalty in 1997, despite surveys showing that more than 60 percent of Poles wanted to keep it."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11306-2005Jan15.html

The problem is the socialists in Europe have tried to link Europe's very recent sordid history of killing millions of innocent people with applying the death penalty to a rotten, murderous bastard. They seem incapable of separating the two.

By the way, China executed over 3,400 people last year, many of them political prisoners. Think about that. 3,400 people. 100 times more people were executed in China than in the US last year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment

I don't recall hearing any moral outrage from Germany over this. Until I hear at least the same moral outrage from "caring" German socialists about China's application of the death penalty, any complaints about the death penalty in the US are meaningless.

Buckeye Abroad: Nah, the Red Army just put you on the front line with blocking troops behind you.

But ya, thanks for the little tidbit of info. Since it's normally prosecuted at the state level, it's possible that some state has the death penalty too, I suppose. But I think the military handing out the death penalty for rape nowadays, is about as likely as death for treason. Or congress explicitly declaring war. Or Ted Kennedy standing trial for manslaughter. Or Biden asking a succinct question. Or...nevermind.

Just to be entirely clear, here is what Mr. Allen caused to happen and for which he was convicted:

"On the evening of Sept. 5, 1980, just before closing time, Hamilton and his girlfriend Connie Barbo entered Fran's Market. The two drew their weapons and herded the employees to the back of the store, where Hamilton methodically killed Bryon Schletewitz, 27, Josephine Rocha, 17, and Douglas White, 18, with a sawed-off shotgun. Schletewitz had testified against Allen; the two teenagers were store employees who had nothing to do with the earlier case.

Rocha, a high school senior, had hoped to become a teacher and raise a family. Schletewitz was known as a witty, good-natured boss. White, a former member of the Clovis High School choir, was attending community college and planned to study architecture and law.

Hamilton also fired a shot from just 3 feet away at teenager Joe Rios, who had hidden in a rest room. Rios managed to raise his arm and take the blast in his elbow. He survived and later identified Hamilton and Barbo."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/01/12/MNGROGM4QB1.DTL (registration might be require)

The almost universal glossing over of the victims lives by most anti-death penalty advocates is a source of ongoing disappointment to me. A seventeen-year-old girl gets a job after school at a grocery store and someone comes in and wilfully snuffs out her life because she just happens to be there. And the "victim" is the man who caused it to happen. So, because of the machinations of the system, he got old in the meantime. Boo hoo.

When can we expect a retraction from Mr. Willemsen? Surely, at the very least he will admit he was a fool, I mean, fooled.

@Oh Eric! - Of course, I think the NSA leakers (including reporters) should be subject to the death penalty for treason.

Frankly, the digital fortress leakers had been waiting with their announcement for so long that one could think they had been sitting in the death row all the time. But if there had to be any such wishes in relation to the NSA, then Sid Vicious would have to start at another echelon, since the whole entity has meddled into the business of theology.

Judicial error is an important argument against the death penalty, and DNA testing can be a useful tool against judicial errors, but if the secret intelligence complex does not even make a practical disctinction between cellphones and electronic foot tags, who would be willing to provide it with his genetic fingerprint just to prove his innocence? Read the allusion to the call-a-pizza in this text as a metaphor for the wiretappers...

Mr. Willemsen, if you run into this please consider that Susan Sontag also said that "it is the genius of the United States, a profoundly conservative country in ways that Europeans find difficult to fathom, to have devised a form of conservative thinking that celebrates the new rather than the old." And that is to be valued even when the dark side of America has made your pizza go cold.

@oh Eric

"Buckeye Abroad: Nah, the Red Army just put you on the front line with blocking troops behind you."

For any crime against the state, yes, they wouldn't hesitate killing you, but raping women, especially those who were foreign, wasn't an issue. I wasn't clear with the "barbaric" punishment tag. Sorry. Red army soldiers raped an estimated 2,000,000 women while pushing back the Wehrmacht. Some as young as 7.

Another historical note: Helmut Kohl's deceased wife and her mother were trying to escape Dresden before the russians advanced right after the bombing in 45'. Her and her mother were raped at the train station while seeking a way out. She was 9 at the time.

@Walter

“Clarence Allen caused 3 murders while serving a life sentence, thus belieing those idiots who think a life sentence protects society.”

Those “idiots,” at least the European idiots, believe that they have taken the traditional role of God in society. Der Spiegel had in its English language section an article entitled, “God verses the State. What American Neocons need to know about Europe.”

This article tries to set forth the premises that we Americans plundered our bounty through colonialism and that we believe that our rights were granted to us by God. On the other hand, the enlightened Europeans have fought many costly and bloody wars over religion and have forever learned their lessons.

Therefore, where we Americans have a fundamental belief in God, the average European has replaced God with a spiritual relation with the State. The State provides you a job when you need one, an apartment when you are homeless...you get the drift.

This enlightened government was provided by the French Bourbons and the Austrian Hapsburgs during the 16th through 19th centuries. In the twentieth century, progressive governments ran by the likes of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder have replaced the far-seeing monarchs of the earlier centuries.

In Euro think, it is not for us to judge these people that commit capital crimes. After all, society is the cause of such crimes...rehabilitation should prevail over “retribution.” Therefore you get “enlightened” results. Armin Miewes, the cannibal that killed an on-line lover and ate his penis: 8 years in prison. The Islamo fascist that killed a U.S. Navy diver during a hijacking in Lebanon: 16 years in prison, (despite Germany having no personal or subject matter jurisdiction in the case).

Even some of our blue states have adopted this type of mentality when it comes to sentencing criminals. Vermont, home of human rights activist Ben and Jerry, Democratic Chairman Howard Dean and Socialist Congressman Bernard Sanders, recently sentenced a man to 60 days in prison for rapping a ten year old girl over the course of 4 years....10 less months than Martha Stuart served for giving “misinformation” to federal investigators.


@FranzisM
Frankly, the digital fortress leakers had been waiting with their announcement

Actually, the only leaker to come forward publicly is a former NSA employee who
1) had his security clearance pulled
2) was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic
3) was fired

In that order.

Fox news reported it a couple days ago. It might be on their website.

@GeorgeM
we Americans plundered our bounty through colonialism

I nearly busted a gut laughing when I read this. Yeah, we got no more bounty left, just a bunch of colonies.

This willful self-delusion goes all the way to to Buffuon (sp?) who, along with DePauw - neither of whom had ever been here - maintained the theory of 'degeneracy'; life forms on this continent degenerated. Dogs that got off the boat from, oh, say Fwance, stopped barking, etc.

James Ceaser in his book "Reconstructing America" tells a story about Jefferson (and Franklin? I think) in France sitting down to dinner with their Frence hosts who proceeded to expound on just this idea and how it applied to humans in that men would be shorter.
Now how they could not notice that Thomas Jefferson was a tall man BEFORE they sat down, I can't imagine. At any rate, when their French hosts were invited to stand by their American guests to compare heights they were of course compelled to change the subject.

Sound familiar?

@Buckeye Abroad - The Silent Grandaunt is a common family experience. I have to admit, when I watch Chechnyan jihad videoclips the memory how I experienced my Silent Grandaunt as a kid gives me back some stability.

@Pamela - Link please. I know the difference between the NSA and the Bush administration, but signal intelligence is a threat to privacy where one has to be mean with the benefit of the doubt.

Pamela, you might find the story about Jefferson in America's Oldest Enemy, too.

@ LouMinatti
"Most civilized people believe that the death penalty should at least be an option for punishing vicious, cold-blooded murderers."

Unlike uncivilized people who strongly oppose the death penalty? What, is the death penalty now a sign of higher civilization? I mean, seriously, look at this list (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html) and tell me that the other countries still executing the death penalty are mostly civilized.

@Pamela: The story I heard is that the French scientist promoting this theory was so resistant to facts, that Jefferson arranged to have a stuffed moose sent to him in France to prove that animals aren't necessarily smaller in America.

@FranzisM: I'm having a little trouble following what points you tried to make, or which side of the issue you're on. But I will agree that there are good arguments against using the death penalty. Which is why reasonable people can disagree, but not all people who disagree are reasonable.

@Buckeye Abroad: Ya, well, I was being flippant and speaking out of my butt. There's no doubt there was enough cruelty to go around during WWII by most of the players. While it doesn't make the Russian's behavior right, I have a hard time being sympathetic to WWII era Germans. Call me an hard hearted b*.

@flux: He didn't tell you that there weren't any civilized people who strongly oppose the death penalty. Furthermore, a list of governments' position on it is no indication that there are. Although, I agree that there are civilized people who oppose the death penalty. Good try at twisting around words though.

@FranzisM
>>Link please
If I had one I would have posted it. I heard a broadcast report.

@SandyP
>>you might find the story about Jefferson in America's Oldest Enemy, too.

I found that book via your recommendation on this site. I can't thank you enough.

@Jabba the Hut
>> Jefferson arranged to have a stuffed moose sent to him in France to prove that animals aren't necessarily smaller in America.

Yes indeed. Seriously, I have recommended it before but this really is on par with Hayek's Road to Serfdom.
Reconstructing America: The Symbol of America in Modern Thought

And if you don't have time to read the book (It's a short read tho') try his article (taken from the book).

A genealogy of anti-Americanism

Really. This is the best stuff ever.

@Oh Eric
"He didn't tell you that there weren't any civilized people who strongly oppose the death penalty. Although, I agree that there are civilized people who oppose the death penalty."

Huh? Of course, he didn't tell me that, he just implied it in his statement. And yes, of course, there are civilized people who oppose the death penalty. How did I twist his words? That was my point, but I guess I have to spell it out: if you look at the list of countries still executing the death penalty you will see that the US is among the very few civilized countries doing it. That's all.

Just one more thing: I am all for the death penalty. It's completely fine with me, kill the killers, go ahead. But please, don't tell me that death penalty somehow has something to do with being civilized.

@flux: So, let me get this straight. You're saying "Most X people think Y" implies that "All X people think Y"? (the latter being the equivalent of "There are no X people who think the opposite of Y")

@flux: on your latter post...I'll give you that you may have sensed an emotional implication there. But still, correlation is not the same as causation. He said that in civilized countries, polls show that most people support the death penalty. That says absolutely nothing about why.

Although, I think this is increasingly not so much the case, especially I think Germany popular opinion is turning against it.

"the US is among the very few civilized countries doing it" Is it more civilized to execute a vicious murderer, or more civilized to let a vicious murderer to 'execute' innocent victims after they 'served' their 'eight' years of incaceration (like the German cannibal)?

Are the Germans turning against the DP because they're against it, or against America?

I posted before a synopsis of a paper by Cass Sunstein and compatriot.

Countries have a moral responsibility to their citizenry to use the DP, it saves 18 or more lives for every piece of vermin put to death.

The Death penalty for rape that can be proven by DNA should be routine and done a soon after the trial as possible.

@ oh Eric

"While it doesn't make the Russian's behavior right, I have a hard time being sympathetic to WWII era Germans. Call me an hard hearted b*."

German children being raped by russian soldiers is a moral issue you actually grapel with? You are not just hard hearted, but an obtuse wanker who is devoid of any soul.

@Buckeye Abroad: No it is not a moral issue I grapple with. I said it was wrong. So you trying to pretend I didn't write that is disingenuous.

What I have a hard time with is feeling sympathy for Nazis. Remember, this is the same Helmut Kohl who said Nazis shouldn't pay Jewish slave labor reparations because they were just following orders. Not economically feasible, I could take. Following orders? Sorry, no. He may have been conservative and pro-American by German standards, and maybe he was too young to actually have been a soldier (maybe he got in on the end as a teenager, not sure), but he's still an anti-semitic bastard. For children, ya, looking back at what I wrote, I guess I didn't write exactly what I meant in part of that, I should've qualified.

As a small correction, looking up your story, she was 12 at the time, and was trying to leave for Dresden, not from. I blame the Nazis and of course the Russian soldiers; trying to make me feel bad about (i.e. sympathize with) something that happened over half a century ago isn't going to happen. Sympathy is a very interpersonal relationship kind of thing. You'd do as well to try and get me to feel bad about the ancient Assyrians torturing their enemies.

http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/6-23-2002-20908.asp

To Whom It May Concern, the individual who leaked is Russell Tice. The link is here.

"I mean, seriously, look at this list (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html) and tell me that the other countries still executing the death penalty are mostly civilized."

Were Europeans allowed to vote on the death penalty for murderers, or was the death penalty cancelled via undemocratic decree of the ruler in power? From the Washington Post article I cited,

"In France, then-president Francois Mitterrand abolished the death penalty by decree in 1981; most French citizens supported it, but Mitterrand imposed his will thanks to the power of the French presidency, which has no equivalent in consensus-oriented Japan. Even now, large percentages in most European nations favor the death penalty, according to polls. More countries continue to abolish it to meet a condition of inclusion in the European Union. Poland, for example, abolished the death penalty in 1997, despite surveys showing that more than 60 percent of Poles wanted to keep it."

Europe isn't a very democratic place.

James: Careful now, you're in danger of winding up on the front cover of Stern as a typical American warmonger. Although, I'm having a hard time coming up with a reason why that would be a bad thing.

Eric, I would consider that an honor. :-)

I would put the cover in a frame and hang it on the wall. Yeah, my 15 minutes of fame...

@oh Eric

"I said it was wrong. So you trying to pretend I didn't write that is disingenuous."

Apologies, I didn't see that in the first read. Children, and the innocent, being brutalized for others sins sickens me to no end, so I fired off a response before I confirmed the message. Once again, apologies.

"What I have a hard time with is feeling sympathy for Nazis."

The majority of germans were not party members, but I digress, they supported the regime through their actions. I do believe Israel has received "some" aid from Germany in the last 50 years, but I don't think a financial amount could ever be arrived at when knowing what happened during the Holocaust.

" blame the Nazis and of course the Russian soldiers;"

Agreed.

"Sympathy is a very interpersonal relationship kind of thing. You'd do as well to try and get me to feel bad about the ancient Assyrians torturing their enemies."

Point taken.


The majority of germans were not party members, but I digress, they supported the regime through their actions.

AND inactions.

re: Israeli aid... it would be interesting how much aid Israel has received from Germany and how much 'Chairman' Arafat has received. My bet is the 'Chairman' has received just as much
if not more - with no strings attached.

Here's my problem with this whole thing: Roger Coleman got his day in court. That wasn't enough to satisfy his supporters, and their love-fest with Coleman drove these supposedly saintly people to callously participate with Coleman in trying to finger other, really and truly innocent, people with the murder. Wanda McCoy's husband Brad was initially considered a suspect, and Coleman's defenders maintained a whispering campaign against Brad right up until the DNA results came out last week. That's 20 years of not only having to suffer the agony of having his wife murdered, but being falsely accused by a well-oiled publicity machine against which Brad had no recourse. Further, in 1994, Centurion Ministries and Coleman's lawyer made a public accusation against one of McCoy's neighbors, and subsequently had to settle a libel lawsuit. (See the first comment to the post here at: http://badattitudes.com/MT/archives/003531.html) They apparently had no problems with ruining the lives of innocent people in order to please a sociopath. So yeah, in my book, there is nothing "moral" whatsoever in their words or actions, and they are every bit as guilty as Coleman himself.

@Buckeye Abroad: well, I do tend to shoot my mouth off sometimes. But what really annoys me is left wingers pretending they feel the pain of whoever happens to be the cause of the day. Like Obi Wan in Star War as the "death star" takes out the planet. Do I hear anything about the millions of children dead of malaria and dyssentary in Africa? Not likely. I hear about the evil Bush. Which indicates to me that they have no sympathy in their minds, only local politics and self-loathing.

@Oh Eric! - My point is easily explained. While a compromise on the death penalty (or on genetic testing) can be reached on the ground of territorial sovereignty, this is not the case for signal intelligence. Our communication networks trancend our territorial borders, so one country's secret data retention ageny is a threat to all citizens, unless that country would insulate its communication networks from the rest of the world, which is not the case in the U.S.

The NSA has become a problem of this kind since the American popular culture has drawn an image of totalitarian information awareness around that entity. Any outside observer who is putting the various sources together to achieve a realistic understanding of the NSA arrives at an image of a Foucauldian panopticon, i.e. a fraudulent fortress of ambiguities for whose effect on your surveillance risk calculations it matters rather little when an actual observer is present and when not.

I must assume that the stories about the NSA might be bluff or not, but where is the difference between gambling away your benefit of the doubt with inappropriate bluffing and losing it by means of real privacy violations? In any case, a panopticon state is completely inacceptable, even as a counterweight against Europes own data retention complex (a teething trouble of a state under construction), or any of the others in the world which are trying to turn our communication networks into a nanny nightmare. Surveillance always is the aberration, never the normality.

Of course there always is the lame excuse to come up with some more colorful drama from the other side of the digital divide, like in the old joke of the Green kindergarten teacher that tells the kids to eat their spinach for the sake of the orphans of Africa. Yet responding to these challenges requires to keep our communication networks out of the control of the totalitarians - as impertinent as it may be, the UN has a reason to hold its internet grab summit in an African capital - and the emergence of genuine trust necessary to achieve that common goal requires that the world surveillance behemoth of Maryland is properly defaced.

Whenever it comes to the NSA and its (alleged) capabilites, what comes to my mind is that the only sustainable way to convince the European people that the notorious Bastille was really empty and the horrors were just vicious lore was to tear it down to the last brick. But since you are a Georg Lucas fan and not a French existentialist, the best analogy for the NSA I can give you probably are these robots in his scripts that wait to be switched off. Your movies explain this to you without involving any real bricks, and our existentialists may recognize on their own that the status quo of our communication networks (and more) is worth defending against the totalitarians.

FranZ,

Cutting to the bottomline.

I have to assume you have some objection to the NSA.

@joe - Did I mention that I am an European, and as such feel obliged to send the nightmares of Michel Foucault back to his grave?

You should have reached that assumption long ago.

@FranzisM: Actually, I'm not a George Lucas Fan, I was pointing out how silly and unrealistic his view of the nature of reality is. Albeit, a fictional movie reality. But one that points directly to Clinton's stereotypical "I feel your pain" statement.

On the NSA, I think it's also silly to think that the US isn't going to have a spy agency. Every country that can afford one does, and that includes Germany. That doesn't make either the US or Germany a totalitarian state keeping watch on its citizens. If anything, that happens more in Europe, for example, the British traffic camera system is just insane. And national identity cards have long been opposed in the US far more strenuously than in Europe, based partly on the stereotype of a German Nazi coming up to "check your papers".

To the extent that you're saying a free and open society is the best guarantor of liberty, then I agree. Which is one reason I oppose laws like the McCain-Feingold restrictions on the 1st ammendment here in the US. But I support spying on other countries, that's how the game works, because the world is not a free and open place. For example, I hadn't brought up the UN, but since you seem to admire the place: it's largely run by totalitarian states!

Well, as for the internet. They're free to set up their own root servers in their own country. Or get behind China's firewall, if they can't afford their own. To the extent they want to interoperate, they can. It's a good example. Most of Africa was left a mess by European colonialism, now it's run by marginally stable military thugs or just thugs who take slaves to sell to the Arabs, or kill off rival tribes, or destroy their own economy by kicking off European colonials, or reject AIDs drugs, ostensibly on the theory that it's all a plot to kill them. They'd love an opportunity to control this wonderful technology and stifle free speech.

Well, I think even left wing politicians in the US realize that giving control of the internet to the likes of Muggabe would be a big mistake. It ain't gonna happen.

@FranzisM: ...so one country's secret data retention ageny is a threat to all citizens, unless that country would insulate its communication networks from the rest of the world, which is not the case in the U.S.

The problem here is a matter of perception, not technology.

The fact is that the technology the NSA is using is not, in any way, shape, or form, esoteric or unique to the NSA. In fact, the REAL security lapse in the NYT leak was in the world discovering that the NSA was using such simplistic technology to track Al Qaeda calls into the US.

The keyword database in use was not a secret piece of software; it is merely a method of building a database. Anyone with a working knowledge of any of several computer languages can do this.

The hardware? Off the shelf stuff you can get at your local Radio Shack.

The REAL issue here is not whether or not the NSA CAN spy on private citizens, but rather why on earth they would BOTHER to.

I am speaking as someone who has been involved in telecommunications in one way or another since the mid-'60s, when "telecommunications" meant handing a computer tape (and that 3/4 inch tape on a 9-inch lead reel) to a courier to drive over to the satellite uplink. I can PROMISE you that you are in less danger from the NSA than from your neighborhood garden-variety hackers.

The NSA has a full plate keeping track of the calls coming into the US from numbers known to be connected to Al Qaeda. Yes, they are tracking them, and as far as I'm concerned, they'd BETTER track them. I genuinely do NOT understand why someone who is on an Al Qaeda operatives' speed dial should be protected from government snoops.

Yes, the technology they have to do this with CAN be used to sneak peeks into the lives of private citizens all over the world. But the big question is, "WHY?" Why would the NSA be interested in listening to your Auntie Frannie trading cake recipes with her neighbors? Or on Putin's conversations when the CIA, MI6, and every other intelligence organization in the world is probably already doing that anyway? Or to Sen. Kennedy's drunken maunderings, for that matter?

If someone, say George Bush, wanted to REALLY spy on someone, he could hire a hacker to cobble together the same kind of setup the NSA has and listen in on anyone he wants to. I repeat, this is STRICTLY off-the-shelf stuff. Why bother the NSA about it, especially in light of the kind of government security leaking that is currently going on in the US?

The fact is that there is not one single case of a citizen complaining about privacy rights being invaded. There are only cases of organizations complaining that it MIGHT happen. In fact, it could happen. But, again, WHY?

Why send in the Marines to bust a second-rate dope peddler? That is exactly how this relates to the NSA "listening in on private citizens" nonsense. There is no common sense to the concept.

Trust me, you are MUCH MORE endangered by your neighborhood hacker trying to rip off your debit card number than you are by the NSA.

FranZ,

As a German, that the NSA should concern you gives me cause for hope.

@Oh Eric! - The work of that filmmaker is big porn, unfortunately contaminated with some politics. The Foucauldian panopticon of surveillance that makes up the NSA narrative falls into a similiar category, only that it comes entirely unsolicited. I did not chose to opt into that construct, and I don't expect anybody to shrug off government data crimes as easily as the Pope did with his Stasi file.

I also do not admire the United Nations any more than the Association of German Vinters. It's a trade association for professionals in the business of government power, and the only moral that may be found there is the one the ambitious bring in. I think it's the place where the Western nations must defend the most effective weapon against totalitarianism: If privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy.

In the 20th century spying was a matter of national sovereignty, but there were no internet and no cellphones. There was no risk of an artifical intelligence behemoth mining large amounts of looted data, such as there was no risk to infect yourself with AIDS comparable with the one that exists today. In the 21st century, the technological evolution turns spying into a threat against the sovereignty of the individual.

As for Africa, it is easy to blame Europe for past colonialism when the only colonialists still around are these in the Kleingartenkolonien. If Europe was so fundamentally pessimist I would have to blame the Roman Church for the Christianisation. That's a we can't get back to that point from here type fallacy. I was expecting you were aware that it is in my Eurocentrist interest to see Africa find its renaissance.

@LC Mamapajamas - The question why the NSA might bother or not in a particular case is an internal American issue irrelevant to the outside observer. From my point of view, I cannot distinguish between loyal and rogue agents, and must remain ambigous whether the NSA narrative is just frivolous science fiction or evidence of actual datacrimes. What can be said is that the entity is certainly thrilling the American imagination, with an odd perseverance, even though it's just hardware and softare.

Your average hacker is probably a kid that wants to grow to the limits before it goes into a career of developing the next generation of secure technology that will make the data retention dinosaurs obsolete. And when one of them occassionally smashes a window it is better than if the wakeup call for the security engineers would have to come from a government scandal. Your promise that Echelon was harmless has too little market value here to outbid my average hacker.

As for Aunti Frannie and Uncle Kennedy, I would expect that some automatic selection is made among looted data, but for the corpus delicti of the privacy violation it is irrelevant whether the data are run through an algorithm or presented to a human. As I said above, the problem of the Foucauldian panopticon is that ultimately it does not matter when there is an observer inside and when not.

@joe - So welcome to the cyberspace exile. The right of the people to keep and bear secrets shall not be infringed. All your intelligence agencies will be gauck'd.

FranZ,

What is a data crime?

For I have no real secrets. I am just a bore. Besides my government has between throught my life in such detial that it knows more about me than my mother does.

@FranzisM: You don't admire the UN, but its the place where Western Civilization...no wait, can't...stop...laughing

To repeat: The UN is run by dictatorships.

I suppose since Mugabe just kicked all the white farmers out of Zimbabwe the last couple of years, then you might be right about there not being any left. Which was my point. Africa is a basket case because of Europe and its policies. Please pardon me for not wanting to take advice from that ilk. Not that that stops France from continuing to treat African countries as colonies, sending in the troops whenever they feel like. Sure, it would be nice to see a renaissance in Africa, not likely the any time soon though.

Well, maybe you think the NSA is some kind of superhuman panopticon. Sees all, knows all. In my experience, they're full of just as many bumbling idiots and bureacratic inefficiencies as anybody else...who manage to get something right just often enough to justify their existence.

If it's a choice between no NSA and death from terrorism, or spying on foreign countries, I'll take the latter, thank you very much.

Somehow, I suspect you're the type of person that would like to see British style libel laws on the internet, and the ICC able to prosecute government officials. No thank you, very much.

@joe - Your attitude to privacy resembles mine to material weapons. I could not even defend my mother better than my government does. - A data crime is a violation of the right not to be spied on.

@Oh Eric! - I don't have an opinion yet whether Mugabe should be tried by the ICC, but if I have to chose between the risk of being spied on and the risk of inactivity, I'll take the latter, thank you very much.

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