Paranoia

This is getting ridiculous: The AP is treating the NSA’s use of web cookies as if it is Big Brother spying. They’re just cookies.

: And the Guardian piles on. What a nonissue. Every advertiser sets cookies that last into the next universe. The unchecked assumptions about (1) privacy and (2) government spying come together in an absurb meme.

  • Scote

    Just cookies? True, but mere cookies in the hands of the NSA are like a mere carving knife in the hands of Norman Bates.

  • http://www.mythusmageopines.com/mt Alan Kellogg

    Scote,

    What makes you think you’re important enough to be bugged?

  • David

    The National Security Agency has issued an apology after the Associated Press reported that it had installed surveillance cameras in its lobby. NSA spokesman Don Weber called the installation of cameras a “mistake,” and said they would be removed immediately.

    “The NSA should never have installed cameras in its office building, and for that, we apologize,” said Weber. “Some over-zealous security contractors put in the cameras after we paid them to increase security at the building.”

    The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the NSA was conducting a covert operation to spy on people, via video cameras, as they entered through the front door of the Washington office building where it is housed. Civil libertarians decried the secret operation, calling it a violation of basic fundamental principals of freedom and privacy established in the Constitution.

  • Scote

    Allen Kellog wrote:

    “Scote,
    What makes you think you’re important enough to be bugged?”

    Hmm, you don’t seem to be reading the same post I wrote. I never said that I thought the NSA was bugging me. You are attacking straw men, but for what purpose?

    However, NSA technology for intercepts is **mass** spying, automatically listening for key words in huge masses of traffic, so the NSA may be spying on **anyone** who mentions those phrases in an international call, not just specific people.

    This really is a constitutional crisis of the first order. Bush and company believe the office of the president is above the law–a belief that is incompatible with the foundations of our *constitutional* democracy. Bush and neoconservatives have gone from being the law and order party to being the the Martial Law party.

  • http://peterdawson.typepad.com /pd

    Although the cookies were dismantled this week and the NSA issued an apology on Wednesday, the episode will add to pressure on the White House to engage in a national debate about its use of the agency, and its interpretation of the constitutional limit

  • http://www.mcarthurweb.com Don McArthur

    This is truly a non-issue, and symptomatic of the technical ignorance of the average American computer user. Hell, 25 years into the personal computer “revolution,” and the majority of users can’t articulate the difference between RAM, ROM and storage.

    We’re not only going to lose to China and India, we deserve to.

  • Scote

    Don McArthur Says: “This is truly a non-issue, and symptomatic of the technical ignorance of the average American computer user”

    No, this is truly an issue of how government entities are ignoring Federal law under the Bush administration. The Federal privacy laws (such as they are) are, in this case, designed to prevent the assimilation of data by the Fed. The NSA specifically violated a Federal Law.

    Cookies can be innocuous or they can be used by companies to cross reference personal data with your browsing habits. What did the NSA need them for? Probably just for remembering preferences, but do you trust the NSA or any branch of the Bush run Fed to respect your privacy or Federal Law?

  • http://peterdawson.typepad.com /pd

    I agree with Scote.This is a bigger issue. Very big issue. READ AS VERY BIG ISSUE.

    This is leading to what is called as “false negative”.-”

    “false positives are people who get flagged as “positives” IE people who end up on no-fly lists or security screening, or even get arrested when in fact they are innocent”

  • http://big-green.blogspot.com BGM

    hey. i’m going to come over to your house at some random point and shuffle through your stuff.

    you won’t mind, though, right?

    you have nothing to hide.

    and of course you’d let me wander right in because your not paranoid about anything.

    sure thing, asshole.

  • http://blog.spartac.us/ Brian O’Connell

    Only third-party cookies (such as from ads) can be used to trace your movements around the net, and then it’s the third party that has this info, not the originating websites. (Most browsers allow the user to disable third-party cookies.) The NSA can only see NSA cookies. NSA cookies have no idea where else you’ve been because they’re only “activated” when you visit the NSA website. This is a complete non-story.

  • Scote

    One should also note the misleading headline, “Paranoia.” Is it really paranoia to to be concerned that the NSA may be violating privacy and spying on US citizens? Granted, the cookies issue may be just a mistake, but it is a mistake brought on by an indifference to Federal Law. Before this month one might have argued that the NSA was prohibited by law from spying domestically and that domestic NSA spying was just a paranoid fantasy, but as we have found out that is just what the NSA has been doing in spite of the law.

    How can one be paranoid when the current administration has introduced to our democracy unlimited secret detention without trial, secret courts, secret evidence, secret laws, secret legal rationales, secret searches, warrantless wiretaps and warentless access to medical data, financial records, library records, web browsing habits, phone records–just about everything. And they consider themselves above the law in the name of defense. I’d say there is way too little paranoia under the circumstances and that our democracy is literally in danger from becoming a fascist state.

    Sinclair Lewis recognized in 1935 that when fascism came to the US it would come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. Unfortunately, he was right.

    Don McArthur says that the hoopla is brought on by the “technical ignorance of the average American computer user,” ignoring that the the NSA’s excuse for violating Federal Privacy laws was ignorance of it’s own web server software, so it isn’t the “average American’s” ignorance that is at issue here.

  • http://www.wingercomics.com/ Carson Fire

    “the episode will add to pressure on the White House to engage in a national debate”

    The cookies episode actually demonstrates the inanity of this particular national debate.

  • APF

    We’re talking about cookies, and you’re Goodwining yourself.

    Only on the Internet!

  • Pingback: Winger Blog » “C” is for kooky, er, cookie

  • Scote

    Carson Fire wrote, “The cookies episode actually demonstrates the inanity of this particular national debate.”

    You are not being clear, CF. Which national debate? Do you think that the reckless trampling of our constitutional civil liberties is un-important or should we be concerned about it?

    By itself, the NSA cookies violation would be a small matter, but as part of a pattern it is relevant. However, I suspect wingnuts will try and characterize the many, many serious and unprecedented violations of human rights and civil liberties by the Bush Administration as being a small matter and no more worrisome than the NSA cookies violation. Such a person would be wrong in the most egregious of ways.

  • Scott

    Scote has a good handle on what this is all about. Sure, cookies aren’t that big a deal in the computer world. But the great cookie debate is not about cookies – it’s about the trampling of our Civil Liberties by a President who says the constitution is nothing but “a piece of godammed paper” and his reckless administration.

  • http://blog.spartac.us/ Brian O’Connell

    By itself, the NSA cookies violation would be a small matter, but as part of a pattern it is relevant.

    That’s your mistake. No matter what anyone might think of Bush’s/the NSA’s civil rights record, the cookie thing is not a part of it in any way. It’s some IT guy forgetting to change a default setting in a piece of software. It has no impact on anyone’s privacy; it is not representative of any NSA attitude towards civil rights.

    The law banning persistent govt cookies is itself a bit dumb. If firstgov remembered its users’ preferences and interests (on an opt-in basis), the site would be more useful. It’s really as simple as checking the “remember me” box on blog comment forms (which BuzzMachine doesn’t have for example, yet remembers me anyway; evil!).

    That this law even exists suggests that some privacy paranoiacs demanded it and some politicians thought it expedient to pacify them and pass it. In reality there’s no danger.

  • Scote

    Brian O’Connel wrote, “That this law even exists suggests that some privacy paranoiacs demanded it and some politicians thought it expedient to pacify them and pass it. In reality there’s no danger.”

    No danger from internet tracking? Hmm, gotta disagree with that. The aggregation of databases is perhaps *the* most dangerous threat to our privacy. Tracking your internet activity is a critical part of that data. Would the NSA cookies be important to that? Probably not since the Administration has outsourced and offshored some data mining that would be illegal if done directly by the government (and probably still is). But, ignoring the Federal Privacy Laws is not acceptable. The lack of care to do so is consistent with the lack of care the Administration has for privacy and civil liberties.

    The Administration has created a culture where privacy for individuals is bad but secrecy for the government is good. The NSA cookies violation appears to be a symptom of that lack of care for our civil liberties, whether that violation was through ignorance, indifference or malice.

    So, is it “privacy paranoiacs” who are overly concerned about government tracking or Bush apologists who are insufficiently concerned about the subjugation of our constitution?

  • http://www.kirabug.com kirabug

    Oh good God. They’re cookies. You don’t want to get cookies from the Government sites (or anywhere else) shut off your cookies. Works the same way as shreadding your mail if you don’t want someone reading it, or cleaning your house if you don’t want your mom to see your “magazine collection”.

    There are literally hundreds of ways to protect your privacy on the Internet and all it takes to secure your computer is actually learning about it and using what’s available. But you have to take the responsibility to do it yourself. Seems to me that’s the problem – why should we ever expect people to undertand the technology they’re using?

    As for the idea that Internet tracking is dangerous, exactly how? Because somebody might stop trying to sell me penis enlargements if they knew I wasn’t buying? They might start trying to sell me stuff I’m interested in? The horror!

  • Scote

    kirabug writes, “As for the idea that Internet tracking is dangerous, exactly how? Because somebody might stop trying to sell me penis enlargements if they knew I wasn’t buying? They might start trying to sell me stuff I’m interested in? The horror!”

    Hmm…”dangerous?” How about when the DHS comes to your house to ask you why you have been posting to blogs about GWB is a danger to America? Or when your insurance company denies your coverage because they see you have been searching about AIDS on WebMD. Or when you are denied an apartment rental because your future landlord saw that you bought kitty litter on your grocery Club Card? Or when you were denied a job because your employer found you bought Cigarettes from a web retailer? Or when the police come and search your house because you bought small plastic bags?

    If you are not concerned about data aggregation you are very missing an important threat to your freedom.

  • http://www.kirabug.com kirabug

    Scote said:
    If you are not concerned about data aggregation you are very missing an important threat to your freedom.

    Nope. Not worried.

    First, because I’m relatively sure the Director of Homeland Security (That’s what your DHS stands for, yes?) has no interest in me or my opinions. (His offce? Maybe, eventually, if I said something that warranted concern. At which point I hope they do check in – if I might be a bomb-toating freak, I’d like to know I’d get caught.

    Second, because I’m confident my insurance company wants my money and won’t deny me coverage until a doctor says I have AIDS. Doesn’t make financial sense to rule out folks for learning. Mathematically, it would screw all their actuaries. Not worried about that.

    Third, because you’re assuming that someone’s not only aggregating this info but selling it on the open market, to anyone, including my future landlord. I don’t think my future landlord will be able to afford it. And because you’re assuming that everyone is arbitrary and loony – cigarettes getting me fired? Ziploc bags getting me investigated? Dude, when the hell would the police have the time to investigate plastic bag purchases? Due process, equal opportunity laws, etc. etc.

    And finally, because I “own” (rent?) webspace now, and I already know I can go into my raw logs and pull IP addresses and figure out where the guy from 192.168.0.1 went on my site, what he/she clicked, when, how long they visited each page, etc. etc. I could easily turn around and find out who that IP belongs to and (not quite as easily) what household was using it. And that’s without using cookies.

    What people tend to forget is that you need to have a *network* of cookies set up to make cross-site tracking happen. Browsers are written to prevent buzzmachine.com from reading kirabug.com’s cookies and vice versa.

    In other words, the NSA’s cookies CANNOT READ ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE NSA’S COOKIES. So what are they going to find there? Where I came from? They already get that in the logs. What browser I use? Logs. Operating system? Logs. Where I went on the site? Logs. I visited the site and I prefer green backgrounds when I return? Ooh, that might be in the cookie! Frightening.

    (Now, if I found out that the NSA was paying other sites to plant cookies for them – which is how the advertising aggregators try to work – I might think twice.)

    Data aggregation has been around for centuries. It’s just that instead of my corner grocer (who knows me and four generations of my family and their buying habits because he works every day when we come in) aggregating, it’s Amazon. Instead of the milkman realizing I’ve needed extra milk the last three weeks and bringing it automatically, it’s my car company emailing me to remind me to get my oil change. And instead of Aunt Martha giving my name to that nice insurance salesman, the nice insurance salesman isn’t allowed to call me at all – “do not call” list and all that.

    I agree with Alan Kellog. You and I are not important enough to fret over a few NSA cookies.

  • Scote

    Kirabug writes, “Nope. Not worried…First, because I’m relatively sure the Director of Homeland Security (That’s what your DHS stands for, yes?) has no interest in me or my opinions. (His offce? Maybe, eventually, if I said something that warranted concern.”

    I respectfully suggest you should be. As the current administration is transforming the US into a police state you might wish to be concerned–if not for that fact alone–then because a police state isn’t concerned with “false positives.” Accidently arrest too many people? No problem–it’s all in the name of security.

    You add, “Second, because I’m confident my insurance company wants my money and won’t deny me coverage until a doctor says I have AIDS. Doesn’t make financial sense to rule out folks for learning. Mathematically, it would screw all their actuaries. Not worried about that.”

    Actually, the actuaries will have a field day with the extra data. Actuaries are not concerned whether you as an individual have AIDS, only whether they can estimate risk. Insurance companies have already denied people insurance because they even so much has **had** certain genetic tests regardless of the results. Insurance companies would prefer to offer insurance only to those who will never need it. They’d rather not have you than take a chance that you might be a risk. They are in the business of collecting money, not paying it out. As it is, the Medical Information Bureau collects data on high risk activities that will get you denied for life insurance and they err on the side of caution–for the insurance companies–not your rights. Oh, sure, you might not be denied but you will probably pay more if you can get it. Oh, and you’ll never know why you were denied insurance because your insurance company doesn’t have to tell you why.

    You wrote, “Third, because you’re assuming that someone’s not only aggregating this info but selling it on the open market, to anyone, including my future landlord.”

    I never said this is currently happening, though it may be. However, currently there is no legal barrier to prevent it and your assumption that landlords couldn’t afford it is only that–an assumption. Already, landlords run credit checks and, sometimes, background checks on future tenants. There is no reason to believe that these checks will not include data-mined profiles.

    You wrote, “Ziploc bags getting me investigated? Dude, when the hell would the police have the time to investigate plastic bag purchases?”

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but this has **already happened** in 90′s when the DEA subpoenaed Smith’s Food and Drug Centers in Arizona for their discount card purchase records to check who had purchased large numbers of plastic bags. In that case they were checking a number of named individuals and had a subpoena, but today they would probably just threaten a National Security Letter.

    Keep in mind that the current administration started the Total Awareness Project to data mine all available databases both public and private for “terrorist” patterns. While you may not one of the people falsely accused and investigated as the result of data mining, those that are face possible indefinite detention and torture by this administration. The cookies may not be a big deal by themselves, but you shouldn’t use that as an excuse to ignore the bigger picture.

    Your assumptions that threats to your privacy wont’ affect you are unjustified.

  • http://www.rmschneider.com Rob Schneider

    News Flash: The Guardian tracks visitors to its website via the use of monitoring files known as “cookies”.

    See http://theamericanexpatinuk.blogspot.com/2005/12/guardian-bugs-its-web-readers.html

  • http://www.transterrestrial.com Rand Simberg

    As the current administration is transforming the US into a police state…

    Whenever someone writes something like this, it’s safe to ignore everything else they write–they’re clearly unable to give serious and useful thought to much of anything. As though this is the first administration that has done any of the supposedly horrid things irrationally feared here…

  • http://www.kirabug.com kirabug

    So does this one. So does just about every installation of WordPress (the software used on this site) as well as every installation of every forum and bulletin board in existence, most of the banks and brokerage houses, almost every shopping and commerce site, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and plenty of others. First-party cookies and session cookies are not frightening.

    People who shut off their cookies and then yell because they can’t do anything online, or see even the most helpful of cookies as a security threat, or who want to hobble government websites by preventing them from using the same technology that every other website in the country is using freely are frightening. If you are one of them, please put your tinfoil hat on while you’re out in public so the rest of us can spot you more efficiently.

  • Evan

    Sorry, but who the heck even goes to the NSA web site?

    Do they have free music downloads there or something?

  • http://www.scottj.net Scott Janssens

    “this has **already happened** in 90’s when the DEA subpoenaed Smith’s Food and Drug Centers in Arizona for their discount card purchase records to check who had purchased large numbers of plastic bags.”

    OMG subpoenaed?! The juducial system and due process are trampling all our privacy rights! Run for the hills!

  • http://www.korlapundit.coom Korla Pundit

    The mere fact that the NSA website is not allowed to use cookies only shows the absolute ignorance of technology displayed by the Congress. Ignorance of technology creates fear of technology. Cookies are not some kind of spying device. They don’t tell the host website your information. They tell YOUR computer that you’ve been there before, similar to a preference file. Cookies are a good thing. They help the user.

    So NSA can’t use cookies, but Amazon, eBay, banks, credit card companies, porno sites, and everybody else can use all the cookies they want. This truly reveals how sad the anti-Bush brigade has become, that they would be willing to display such ignorance for all the world to see.

    Idiots who fly off the handle with paranoid fantasies are a barrier to progress and improved user interfaces.

  • pok

    I’m not really sure where I stand on this issue; but I think Scote’s concerns are ridiculously exaggerated. I grew up under Martial Law and it does’t look anything like current America. If it were, Scote won’t live 25 minutes after saying his constitutional rights are being violated – that or his tongue would be an inch shorter. The only way I’d believe that buying plastic bags will get him in trouble is if he first gets in trouble by saying what he says. If he can get away saying “we are in a police state”, I have no reason to believe he can’t get away with buying garbage bags online.

    There’s something very “touristy” about the general reaction to this whole non-issue. I think people who haven’t suffered real oppression are more excited and zealous about seeing “injustice” than those who may actually have lived in it.

  • http://wonderduck.mu.nu Wonderduck

    “I respectfully suggest you should be. As the current administration is transforming the US into a police state you might wish to be concerned…”

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a raving nutcase!

    Look, if this WAS a police state, do you REALLY think you’d be allowed to post what you’re saying? Nope, the evil powers that be would have already dragged you off to the Liberal Internment Camp, where you’d be beaten until you stopped being a moonbat.

    Oh, wait, you don’t have any tracking cookies on your computer. CURSES, they can’t come get you now!

    Grow up, Scote.

  • Tom Gunn

    scote:

    If you think your rights are being trampled you may be reaping what you sowed.

    For years libs have been infringing the rights of the law-abiding to keep and bear arms.

    The bigger question is, “Are your rights being violated?”

    The intercept of international calls is what NSA is charged with doing. Once you leave the confines of the USA you are fair game.

    It sure is fun to watch the libbies squeel when their pig is poked.

  • http://www.korlapundit.coom Korla Pundit

    That pig won’t fly.

  • celebrim

    “Granted, the cookies issue may be just a mistake, but it is a mistake brought on by an indifference to Federal Law. ”

    Only someone who is not themselves in IT would write something foolish like that.

    As many other people have noted, not all cookies represent a threat to your privacy. And in any event, you can easily set most browsers to block all cookies if they did.

    Scote, you are living in a fantasy world you have constructed for yourself. I’d speculate that you are bored and life seems rather purposeless and confusing to you. Everything seems to be too easy or too hard and nothing seems to be very satisfying. So you create a conspiracy in order to have a simple villian in the world, which through the act of your faux resistance allows you to cast yourself in the role of the simple hero. You _want_ to live in an X-Files world, where the Truth is Out There and you are one of the few that see it.

    Beware the orbital mind control lasers, Scote! Quick, set your browser to block all cookies so the Men In Black won’t get you!!

    “OMG subpoenaed?! The juducial system and due process are trampling all our privacy rights! Run for the hills!”

    Thanks, Scott. I got a good chuckle out of that.

    Wait until Scote hears about how the FBI got a subpoenae to look at people’s library records just to find out who might have been reading alot of out of print Clifford Simak stories. Oh the 4th ammendment horrors! If you think the FBI needs the patriot act to do that, think again! (Actually, if you think that the FBI has ever used the patriot act to look at library records, think again!!) Quick, all you heroic librarians out there, shred your records in an act of defiance!! The last thing you want to do is cooperate into a criminal investigation of a terrorist!!! I mean, there can’t possibly be a valid reason for wanting to know who reads Clifford Simak, right???

    You know what’s most amazing about all this. The number of people who’ve suddenly converted into strict ideological libertarians now that the President is Republican. Wanna bet that that ideological purity evaporates as soon as the President is a Dem?

  • APF

    If you’re really concerned about cookies, turn them off. Or if you don’t want them to be turned off, use adblocking software and/or adware/spyware detection software as a countermeasure. Use an IP blocker like PeerGuardian. Etc. Of all the possible folks trying to get at my web browsing patterns, I’m probably *least* concerned about the NSA using that info than hundreds—if not thousands—of other folks.

  • A.W. of Freespeech.com

    No Scote, this is not a constitutional crisis. This is an attempt by the left to create NEW PRIVACY rights, and in the middle of a war, no less. Its a bad inverse of the fear that in times of war our civil liberties are threatened; in this case, in a time of war, our NSA is doing what we have always done, and everyone freaks out, and asks to add further limits to the NSA.

    In case you missed it, our intelligence agencies have been making big screw ups recently. And the democrats have blamed bush for every one. Indeed, the democrats have tried their best to confuse the difference between being wrong on an issue of national security, and lying about it. But then at the same time, democrats are campaigning for fresh limitations on our ability to gather intelligence. In other words, hypocritically, they are weakening our intelligence gathering ability, in the middle of war, and blaming bush for every shortcoming in that intelligence gathering ability.

    Btw, every person “cookied” by the NSA has consented to it. In case you missed it, you dip*****, you can disable cookies in your browser. So if you were cookied by them, its your own stupid fault.

    But keep it up. Seriously, keep it up. You are only clarifying the issue for the American people, that the democrats are not serious about national security. And the results at the voting booth will be the same as in 2002, and 2004.

  • EverKarl

    Obviously, Scote has never heard of Echelon.

  • Angelos

    For years libs have been infringing the rights of the law-abiding to keep and bear arms.

    Um, I own guns. 5, as a matter of fact. Poof! goes the argument.

    Of course, none of them are fully-automatic machine guns. I prefer my venison whole, not minced.

  • Scote

    I love a healthy discussion. I’m glad to see the level of discourse is fairly moderate, yet I am somewhat surprised that my position has been so consistently knocked down. One might say that it is because I’m wrong (as many will no doubt second the motion), or it could be that there truly is an amazing indifference to the violations that have been going on under the Bush Administration.

    Let’s start off with the allegation that gets the most attention, my contention that the US is increasingly becoming a police state. Will the US really become like East Germany where people were routinely informed on, spied on and held indefinitely at the whim of the government. Hopefully not, yet the Bush administration has been both secretly and overtly acquiring Police State Powers. Dick Cheney has actually been fighting a ban on torture for God’s sake. Doesn’t that ring alarm bells with anybody? In addition, the Administration has asserted that it can detain **anybody** indefinitely and in secret at it’s sole discretion and that the invocation of the term “enemy combatant” allows the administration to suspend the constitutional rights of American citizens indefinitely and without review by any court–ever.

    That the current administration is acquiring Police State powers is undeniable, the only question is what are we going to do about it.

    Pok says, “I’m not really sure where I stand on this issue; but I think Scote’s concerns are ridiculously exaggerated. I grew up under Martial Law and it does’t look anything like current America. If it were, Scote won’t live 25 minutes after saying his constitutional rights are being violated – that or his tongue would be an inch shorter”

    I’m glad, Pok, that you have had the chance to escape the Martial Law you grew up under but I’m not buying the argument that because you’ve seen worse we should ignore what’s happening. I’d hope that you’d want to preserve the freedoms you are supposed to be guaranteed in the US rather than watch them be whittled away by an Administration that considers itself above the law and the constitution the country was founded on.

    Rand Simberg says,” “As the current administration is transforming the US into a police state…”

    Whenever someone writes something like this, it’s safe to ignore everything else they write–they’re clearly unable to give serious and useful thought to much of anything. As though this is the first administration that has done any of the supposedly horrid things irrationally feared here…”

    Am I unable to give serious and useful thought or are you unable to see a clear argument backed up with verifiable facts? Would you really dismiss **facts** because I used the term “Police State”? It seems you have a bit of cognitive dissonance where the Bush Administration is conserned. Actually, many of the powers the Bush Administration has asserted are literally without precedent in the US. Name another US administration that has asserted in court that even it’s legal reasoning (not its briefs or documents, but the reasoning) was secret and could not be revealed to the public? It’s never been done before. How about an Administration that has asserted that the law being challenged in court was secret–”if it existed”–and couldn’t be challenged in court? That is new, too. Or claiming that prisoners in US controlled military jails in Cuba were exempt from the authority of any court–even the US Supreme Court?

    It would be great if I was wrong. We have all been brought up to question anyone who claimed the US is a police state, or fascist, or against human rights because it used to be false. The new paradigm shift is hard to acknowledge. Although it is comforting to try an dismiss my concerns as those of a lunatic, the facts I have enumerated are true and easily cross referenced and are true. Many people are in denial. I hope they are able to wake up before the Administration takes more powers for itself.

    To show just how bad it has gotten, let’s look at what Tom Gunn has written:

    “If you think your rights are being trampled you may be reaping what you sowed…For years libs have been infringing the rights of the law-abiding to keep and bear arms.”

    Tom seems to acknowledge that rights are being trampled but justifies it as political payback. The Republican party used to be the party of individual rights, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility. Now they stand for the opposite and supporters are too drunk with power to care about this complete reversal.

    Now, to bring it back home, celibrim writes, ““Granted, the cookies issue may be just a mistake, but it is a mistake brought on by an indifference to Federal Law. ”

    Only someone who is not themselves in IT would write something foolish like that.”"

    Another faulty assumption. You need to look at my posts more clearly. My point was that the mistake (assuming it to be such) was brought on by an indifference to Federal Privacy Laws. If the Fed really cared about privacy it would have checklists and procedures that everyone would follow before going live with a dev site, but the fact that Privacy Laws are not a priority to the government meant that there was no double check of the NSA site. My argument stands.

  • J. Peden

    Warrantless searches, Judges rubber-stamping warrants, and on-the-spot fabricated reasons for searches have existed for a very long time. And they all are legal – and defeatable if there is no “there” there, though it requires individual effort to do so. Such is real life in our necessarily imperfect democracy.

    At the same time, it is clear to me that Bush’s actions in the WOT are legal, and warranted given the terrorist threat as proven by its actions and statements.

    In my thinking the Left fears searches, detention, torture, and the death penalty because it thinks incorrectly that it deserves these things for putting out the meaningless tripe it puts out – the “there” there – which it also apparently can’t help itself from doing.

    At the same time the Left ignores the real threats to humanity which have in fact demonstrated themselves, instead diverting its attention to measures taken against these exact threats – as though these are threats to itself instead.

    Therefore, I say the Left demonstrates an obsessive-compulsive paranoia – probably stemming from the fear of death and personal meaninglessness – and thus lives virtually in a nearly complete fantasyland. It is actually the Left’s fantasyland which it sees is threatened and without which it sees it would be nowhere.

    Such a “threat” and result would be the one the Left does deserve, but only because participation in this fantasyland to the degree the Left demands would ensure our destruction.

  • Scote

    A.W. of Freespeech.com Says: “No Scote, this is not a constitutional crisis. This is an attempt by the left to create NEW PRIVACY rights,”

    You mean my “NEW PRIVACY” right to not have my international calls intercepted by a warrantless search by the NSA? Oh, perhaps you mean the “NEW PRIVACY” right to not have the government use cookies to track you? Actually that is illegal by Federal Law. One can argue over the dangers of cookies and such but you can’t argue that we are talking about “new” privacy laws here. What we are talking about involves the violation of Federal Laws.

    J. Peden Says: “Warrantless searches, Judges rubber-stamping warrants, and on-the-spot fabricated reasons for searches have existed for a very long time.”

    Yes, and the abuse of these have lead specifically to laws like the FISA court system which makes it illegal to do the type of warantless spying the Bush Administration has used the NSA for (no, I’m not talking about the cookies!)

    J. Peden adds “In my thinking the Left fears searches, detention, torture, and the death penalty…”

    Well, I’d hope anyone would fear these things.

    And “At the same time, it is clear to me that Bush’s actions in the WOT are legal, and warranted given the terrorist threat as proven by its actions and statements.”

    Funny that you should use the term “warranted” here in light of the Administration’s love of warrantless (or “unwarranted) searches…Is there any liberty you will not hand over to the Bush Administration to assuage your fear of terrorists? What, then, does the US stand for? Fear of terrorists?
    We have to stand for more than just being against terrorists. We need to regain the moral high ground and remain a nation of laws and civil liberties.

  • http://blog.spartac.us/ Brian O’Connell

    Scote: part of the problem is the lack of seriousness that I believe many on the right, and perhaps even many in the center, perceive in those who start shouting Police State! when the administration does one thing or other in this war. Absolutely each item on your list deserves to be discussed. I agree with you on at least one point: I argued back in 2002 on my blog that I was uncomfortable with the President being able to name US citizens in the US as enemy combatants (as was done with Padilla) without some judicial review, even if only a military one.

    But when you invoke the Police State argument you force people who might agree with some things you say to start arguing against you. It’s too extreme. As pok has reminded us, if this was a police state, you’d know it.

    The other thing that puts people off with your and many Dem’s arguments is the complete lack of acknowledgment that we’re in a war and there are real enemies both at home and abroad who we need to capture or kill. Many argue entirely in terms of civil rights and the needs of the war barely seem to enter their minds.

    Slightly OT, one theme that many Democrats return to (annoyingly) is that the Bush admin isn’t asking citizens to sacrifice anything. “How can the public really believe we’re at war if we’re not asked to sacrifice anything?” “To engage the public in this war we have to ask them to sacrifice something.” You’ve heard it. Well HERE IT IS! Now, when you call overseas, and if your correspondent is a person of interest, there’s a slight chance that your call is being monitored by the NSA. That’s the sacrifice. You give up .01% of your privacy.

    In my job I do talk to Saudis and others from the ME with some regularity. If any of these people are connected to AQ in some way- I wouldn’t know about it- I hope the NSA is listening. Hey, maybe I can ferret my callers out with some leading questions: “Got any hobbies?”

  • Ravo

    Scote writes: do you trust the NSA or any branch of the Bush run Fed to respect your privacy or Federal Law?

    No abuse by Bush has been found.

    BUT: one Senator suggested, the best reason to oppose the PATRIOT Act is that we may someday have President Hillary Clinton to abuse it.

  • Scote

    Brian O’Connell writes, “The other thing that puts people off with your and many Dem’s arguments is the complete lack of acknowledgment that we’re in a war and there are real enemies both at home and abroad who we need to capture or kill. ”

    I’d say the opposite is the problem. The “War on Terror” is an endless war, as is the War on Drugs, the War on Crime an so forth. Based on your rationale, we need to surrender many of our liberties forever since the War on Terror will always be with us. We can’t treat the encroachment of our rights as some temporary thing because it isn’t. The current Administration has insisted its powers must not be challenged nor expire.

    He adds, “You’ve heard it. Well HERE IT IS! Now, when you call overseas, and if your correspondent is a person of interest, there’s a slight chance that your call is being monitored by the NSA. That’s the sacrifice. You give up .01% of your privacy.”

    And yet that apparantly isn’t what the NSA was doing. Monitoring phone conversations with “persons of interest” overseas was easily doable with FISA warrants. What the NSA does (and Evan thinks I don’t know about) is wholesale monitoring of voice and data traffic, looking for patterns and listening for key words and phrases. You are giving up far, far more than .01 percent of your privacy.

    How many more of your constitutional rights are you willing to give up before you become concerned?

    If this was fought as a real war, we’d all be asked to sacrifice. There would be a draft, for starters, and tax hikes so we can properly armor our troops and anti war profiteering laws. We’d be actively seeking alternative fuels in case we get cut off from oil supplies. And we’d try and cut down the huge trade deficits that allow China to own larger portions of our national debt. Yet the administration only seeks to curtail the rights of individuals in this “War on Terror”, rather than truly take the war seriously.

    When will conservatives remember their heritage of individual rights, small government and fiscal responsibility? Republicans used to be against government snooping. Not any more… Now they aren’t in favor of the president having to follow the constitution.

  • Pingback: UrbanGrounds » Blog Archive » The MSM and Cookies

  • http://peterdawson.typepad.com /pd

    Wired Sez :Unbeknown to the Bush administration, an outside contractor has been using internet tracking technologies that may be prohibited to analyze usage and traffic patterns at the White House’s website, an official said Thursday”

    Someone up there who mentioned echelon. Yes, echolon, carnivore and rainmaker have beeen active for a long time. Way back in April/05 we heard that wireless encyption is being broken by FBI in 3 mins

  • http://peterdawson.typepad.com /pd
  • ss

    Christ, scote. Shut up.

  • http://blog.spartac.us/ Brian O’Connell

    If you look in the bottom right corner of this page, you’ll find an outside contractor using internet tracking technologies to analyze usage and traffic patterns at this site.

  • Scote

    ss Says:
    “Christ, scote. Shut up.”

    Who should shut up? Christ? Or Me? Either way, I think you make a valuable point. There is an increasing attempt by the Administration to stifle dissent, often by saying it will embolden the enemy. Well, not if, in part, the enemy is us. So, unless you you only want to hear ditto heads, I’d hope you’d want a healthy discussion of politics and federal policy.

    Brian O’Connell Says”If you look in the bottom right corner of this page, you’ll find an outside contractor using internet tracking technologies to analyze usage and traffic patterns at this site.”

    Quite right. And my boss can legally monitor my internet usage. However, the government’s ability to spy is limited by the constitution and by statute. The NSA cookies were a violation of a federal statute.

    As to the private tracking data mining and its future consequences for our rights, I do, in fact, consider that an important issue.

  • APF

    If you look in the bottom right corner of this page, you’ll find an outside contractor using internet tracking technologies to analyze usage and traffic patterns at this site.

    OMG I’ve seen that on SO MANY other sites too!!!! ROVE IS ON TO US! He’s using the blogosphere to find out who is naughty and who is nice, just like that FASCIST Santa Claus. What is it that “Santa” demands is placed in every home before he visits? COOKIES.

    We’re through the looking glass here, people.

  • just a grunt

    If this was fought as a real war, we’d all be asked to sacrifice. There would be a draft, for starters, and tax hikes so we can properly armor our troops and anti war profiteering laws.

    Just lettin ya know, when most of us see these talking points being thrown out, we know that they are just that – talking points – and we write you off as someone who once read something about the military and believes that they know what they are talking about. (or they are a politician)

    You see, we don’t want you to sacrifice, we volunteered for this job, you didn’t.

    We don’t want a draft. This is professional, all volunteer military. We chose to be here, we prefer to have others that chose to be here watching our backs.

    If you have problems with our armor, where were you in the 90′s when our infrastructure was being decimated? It’s funny, I NEVER heard this from the Democrats when our pay was trash, bah and housing were trash, equipment was trash.

    Why didn’t I hear you talking about anti profiteering laws in the 90′s when we were serviced by the same contractors as we are now? Why is it only an issue now?

    If it wasn’t so sad, I’d laugh. We’ve served under Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen both sides of the aisle fighting over who can “give” us more, fighting over who “cares” more.

    You didn’t give a rats ass about us then, excuse us for finding your motivation a bit suspect now.

  • goof

    What about those cookies from porn sites? They really add up …..

  • cosmo

    Scote: Listen to McConnell.

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time in genuine police states and I can assure you, you haven’t any idea what you’re talking about.

    Reaching for hyperbole and shrieking outrage at every turn doesn’t help your argument. It also means that should “fascism ever arrive in America” we’ll all be numbed by years of false alarms.

    Settle down. Not only have rights been abridged during war time in the past, but there exist mechanisms for addressing abuses and for sunsetting abridgements (e.g.: the Patriot Act must be renewed).

    No, it’s not perfect. And, yes, abuse may be occur. But if evidence exists for a fraction of the things Bush is accused of, he’ll be removed from office. And if not, his administration ends in January 2009. These are features I guarantee you won’t find in a real police state.

  • http://www.bbacon.us/blog Bill

    Ummmm, gentles?

    It is not illegal to use cookies on a government website. It is against an OMB policy memorandum, which does not have anything close to the force of law. Even then, if the head of the agency (normally a Cabinet Secretary, but likely the Director of NSA in this case) approves the use of persistent cookies, its allowable.

  • rabbid

    As some one in IT, I find it strange that certain people would deny the NSA the same abilities they are NOT willing to go to battle over with corporations.
    And I’m a Libertarian.
    This does NOT bother me, other things like the RICO act bother me.
    The ability to take a persons home without due proccess because the law found ONE tiny illegal plant some where on your property.

    Those things bother me.

    Getting your knickers in a wad over cookies from the NSA website is joke. As others have stated, you are crying wolf and ruining your chances of being taking seriously in the future should REAL need arise.

  • Fox Mulder

    Bill, this just proves how diabolical Bush is: BUSH’S OWN PEOPLE ISSUED THE GUIDELINES TO LULL US INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY AND THROW US OFF THE TRAIL!!!

    Halliburton! Roswell! ROSWELL!!!!!!!

    [sarcasm off]

    As a Silicon Valley WWW & IT professional from the earliest days, I have to agree that based on what I know of this story so far, I think the story is not “NSA tramples privacy on road to police state,” it’s “Media ignorantly overstate minor glitch.”

  • Gaius Arbo

    Scote, provide a citation for the CFR in which you claim the cookies are in violation of Federal Statute.

    Cosmo is absolutely correct, “Reaching for hyperbole and shrieking outrage at every turn doesn’t help your argument”.

    Cite the relevant law you claim is being violated, please.

  • cosmo

    Gaius:

    Thanks, I’d like to see it, too. I know George Bush is tried , convicted and sentenced every day in personal kangaroo courts around the world. But for someone so concerned about the rule of law, perhaps Scote could actually cite some.

  • Scote

    OT

    Just a grunt wrote, “You see, we don’t want you to sacrifice, we volunteered for this job, you didn’t.”

    All military personal have my highest regard for their sacrifice and service. The idea that people who speak up for our rights are inherently “anti-military” is insidious and false. Speaking of people who “didn’t” volunteer for the active duty military, you conveniently omit the President, Vice President and all of their advisors. Why would you do that? My service record certainly can’t be as relevant as that of the inexperience people who are sending our valuable military personal into an idealized and insufficiently planned war.

    “We don’t want a draft. This is professional, all volunteer military. We chose to be here, we prefer to have others that chose to be here watching our backs.”

    I’d also hope you’d want people at home watching your backs to make sure you only fight the fights we should fight and wars we can win. The most important aspect of using any weapon, including the military, is the decision of when and where to use it.

    “If you have problems with our armor, where were you in the 90’s when our infrastructure was being decimated? It’s funny, I NEVER heard this from the Democrats when our pay was trash, bah and housing were trash, equipment was trash.”

    You mean when Senator Dick Cheney was canceling military programs in the 90s. Or when the Republican congress elected, time after time to close more and more baeses? Your selective memory of just who is responsible for downsizing the military shows that your politics are interfering with your rational judgement.

    “Why didn’t I hear you talking about anti profiteering laws in the 90’s when we were serviced by the same contractors as we are now? Why is it only an issue now?”

    Why didn’t you hear me? Now you are just being silly. Your lack of knowledge about what I said in the 90′s is not evidence in support of your point. And you are still missing the picture. You are trying to say that it was bad then so it is ok now? That is just inane.

    “If it wasn’t so sad, I’d laugh. We’ve served under Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen both sides of the aisle fighting over who can “give” us more, fighting over who “cares” more.”

    That is, perhaps, true. But no one is better at it than the Republican party, a party which has repeatedly shown its disdain for military service, military awards and for the military war planners who knew how to plan post war operations.

    “You didn’t give a rats ass about us then, excuse us for finding your motivation a bit suspect now.”

    Your psychic knowledge of my position is unconvincing. I suspect that the reason that you are resorting to psychically derived strawmen is that you have a lot of anger but not a lot of evidence or logic to back up your position.

    I think our military is the best in the world, but you don’t keep it that way by squandering our resources in a half-assed, Vietnam manner. The administration has never wanted the public to be aware of the sacrifice our military pays for the War in Iraq and has been unwilling to ask the American people to support our troops in meaningful ways.

  • Gaius Arbo

    Well, this is probably pointless, but here goes.

    “The administration has never wanted the public to be aware of the sacrifice our military pays for the War in Iraq and has been unwilling to ask the American people to support our troops in meaningful ways.”

    Well, Scote, I can tell you rather emphatically that you are completely, utterly wrong.

    On Tuesday, my son reports to deploy for his second tour in Iraq.

    So, I get to sweat out another year waiting for him to get home safely. I guess that’s not a sacrifice to you. Oh, and his entire family, new fiance and all her folks must not count either.

    Maybe if you would stop repeating memes and reflect on the real sacrifices that enable you to spout your opinions, you’d be less inclined to scream “Police State” so readily.

    But that’s asking too much, I guess.

  • Scote

    Gaius Arbo Says, “Cite the relevant law you claim is being violated, please.”

    Well, that is a legitimate question. Though I note you don’t bother to try and disprove any of my contentions.

    The original guidelines were issued by the OMB in 2000.

    This memoranda was followed up by the “E-Government Act of 2002, which was signed by the President on December 17, 2002 and became effective on April 17, 2003…Section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-347, 44 U.S.C. Ch 36) requires that OMB issue guidance to agencies on implementing the privacy provisions of the E-Government Act ”

    The confusion about “rules” versus “law” in this instance is that there is a law requiring the implementation of rules to be finalized by the OMB. So strictly speaking the cookie violation was not a violation of statute, but a violation of the implementation of the statute as agreed upon by the Administration. So the NSA was in violation of rules required by statute that the Administration had, itself, signed off on. That doesn’t, however, allow them free reign to violate those rules required by the E-Government Act of 2002.

    The 2000 memorandum states:

    Tracking technology prohibitions:
    agencies are prohibited from using persistent cookies or any other means (e.g., web beacons) to track visitors’ activity on the Internet except as provided in subsection (b) below;
    agency heads may approve, or may authorize the heads of sub-agencies or senior official(s) reporting directly to the agency head to approve, the use of persistent tracking technology for a compelling need. When used, agency’s must post clear notice in the agency’s privacy policy of:
    the nature of the information collected;
    the purpose and use for the information;
    whether and to whom the information will be disclosed; and
    the privacy safeguards applied to the information collected.
    agencies must report the use of persistent tracking technologies as authorized for use by subsection b. above (see section VII)20.
    The following technologies are not prohibited:
    Technology that is used to facilitate a visitor’s activity within a single session (e.g., a “session cookie”) and does not persist over time is not subject to the prohibition on the use of tracking technology.
    Customization technology (to customize a website at the visitor’s request) if approved by the agency head or designee for use (see v.1.b above) and where the following is posted in the Agency’s Privacy Policy:
    the purpose of the tracking (i.e., customization of the site);
    that accepting the customizing feature is voluntary;
    that declining the feature still permits the individual to use the site; and
    the privacy safeguards in place for handling the information collected.
    Agency use of password access to information that does not involve “persistent cookies” or similar technology.

    So, there isn’t a ban on cookies but there is a ban on persistent cookies that exist without justification–which the NSA cookies did and the NSA admitted to.

    Cosmo writes, “Cosmo is absolutely correct, “Reaching for hyperbole and shrieking outrage at every turn doesn’t help your argument”.”

    It is a sad day when the misdeeds of the current Administration are so outrageous that merely reporting the demonstrable facts passes for hyperbole. While I may agree that in argumentation one may need to subdue ones point to get it across, I also think the problem here is not any hyperbole on my part (I’ve been fairly careful to provide verifiable examples and cogent argumentation) but an amazing national cognitive dissonance which cannot accept the plain facts about the current Administration at face value.

  • Scote

    Gaius Arbo Says. “Well, this is probably pointless, but here goes.

    “The administration has never wanted the public to be aware of the sacrifice our military pays for the War in Iraq and has been unwilling to ask the American people to support our troops in meaningful ways.”

    Well, Scote, I can tell you rather emphatically that you are completely, utterly wrong.”"

    First off, my thanks to your son for his service. Don’t mistake my critical look at the current administration as disrespect for our service personal–and just the fact that I have to point that out shows how low the political discourse has gone under this Administration (and yes, I do believe this specific Administration is responsible for the divisive rhetoric–not everyday politics).

    I should think that as the parent of a service member you’d want the military to be used with discretion and to attack and defend with superior and overwhelming force under conditions were they can be victorious. Holding the Commander in Chief accountable is key to that.

    As for your position that the Administration wants people to be aware of the sacrifice of Americans, you failed to cite one iota of evidence to support your position. The fact that your son is going doesn’t support the idea that the Administration wants Americans to understand the sacrifice of our fighting men and women?

    My point is not that our fighting men and women are not sacrificing in the War on Terror. That is the opposite of my point! My point is that they are making enormous sacrifices and the Administration doesn’t want the general public to know the true human cost of this war. The bodies arrive home in secret not merely out of respect for our dead but because the visual images of flag draped coffins are a powerful reminder of the human cost of this war.

    Speaking of “repeating memes,” that seems to be what you are doing. It is extremely sad that the Administration has been so successful in propagating the meme that questioning the Administration is treason, aids the enemy, means you don’t support the troops. Such positions are fallacious and dangerous to the freedoms of our democracy.

    I don’t want the sacrifice of our military to be in vain. I don’t want to see our democracy and freedoms lost to the war on terror. I want your son’s service and that of all military personal to be for a country that stands for the rule of law, checks and balances of power, the right to a fair trial, openness in government, freedom of speech, the right to dissent.

  • cosmo

    So, Scote, in the end you think it’s a rules violation. One, it seems, which was quickly discovered and remedied. No violation of statute, by your own reckoning. No relevant laws broken. Hardly a “free reign to violate those rules.”

    Again, Gaius’ question stands. “Cite the relevant law you claim is being violated, please.” It’s not an essay question with extra points for clever sophistry.

    So, forgive me if I don’t hold my breath for the indictments. And forgive me, too, my fatigue and skepticism over every new (manufactured) outrage.

    You want rule of law? After five years of Bush Cheated, Bush Lied, Bush Knew, Bush Spied — all of it a bust — I’d like to see some due process, beginning with a presumption of innocence and including, perhaps, indictments, articles of impeachment, inquests, hearings or trials — all of which would occur if there were enough evidence of malfeasance — before guilt is determined, conclusions drawn and sentence pronounced.

    As for Gaius needing to ‘disprove your contentions,’ I’m afraid as you are the one making charges, the burden of proof rests with you. This isn’t a show trial. As it is the “demonstrable facts” don’t support the charge that “misdeeds of the current Administration are so outrageous.” On the contrary, simply stating so, no matter how hysterically, does not make it so.

    Cognitive dissonance, indeed.

  • cosmo

    Scote writes: ” . . . Administration has been so successful in propagating the meme that questioning the Administration is treason . . .”, etc.

    Come on, Scote. Has anyone here accused you of this, during this discussion? If not, why bring it up?

    You’re an admirable contrarian — although I think you should go back and read this thread once again — but please, stop issue-shifting and dragging out wilted straw men to argue with.

    And the hyperbole . . . “fallacious and dangerous to the freedoms of our democracy” . . . Please.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    Not to get too far off topic, but do you know how much you are being tracked by private companies?

    Try this site to see what google does, for example:
    http://www.google-watch.org/

    Given the number of unwanted pieces of software commonly installed on a person’s computer, cookies may be the least of it. Wasn’t there an issue with the FBI installing keystroke capture software on some computers recently?
    Do you actually know what the latest Microsoft “security” upgrade does?

  • Scote

    cosmo says, “So, Scote, in the end you think it’s a rules violation.”

    Indeed it does appear that way. Note that unlike my dogmatic antagonists, I do actual research and add corrections as I find new information.

    “So, forgive me if I don’t hold my breath for the indictments.”

    Hmm…I never called for indictments over this issue. Another strawman for you to triumph over, I suppose. If you read my posts (there are a few of them) you’ll note that I never claimed the NSA cookies violation was significant on its own but only in a larger context.

    “You want rule of law? After five years of Bush Cheated, Bush Lied, Bush Knew, Bush Spied — all of it a bust — I’d like to see some due process, beginning with a presumption of innocence and including, perhaps, indictments, articles of impeachment, inquests, hearings or trials — all of which would occur if there were enough evidence of malfeasance — before guilt is determined, conclusions drawn and sentence pronounced’

    Bush publicly admitted to authorizing the NSA to perform warrantless wiretaps. This is a matter of record. I’m glad you are so pro-due process. If only the Administration agreed with you. They, on the other hand, say they can detain people secretly and forever without trial and without court review–even US citizens. That is also a matter of public record. If that doesn’t strike you as dangerous to a free democracy then I’d say you have a very high tolerance for danger.

    As for impeachment, that is a **political process** unlikely to occur under a cowed Republican Congress that can’t even work up outrage over the US sending suspects abroad to be *tortured*.

    “On the contrary, simply stating so, no matter how hysterically, does not make it so.”

    Neither does your blanket denial make it false. Yet my facts and examples stand unchallenged by you because they are true. It would seem that there is no amount of evidence that you would deem sufficient to cause you to believe the Administration has acted unlawfully. You say that you require an impeachment or other conviction for such belief, but I predict it likely that you will have more excuses ready if and when the first convictions do start rolling in.

    “Cognitive dissonance, indeed.”

    On that we are agreed, but for different reasons.

  • Scote

    Robert Feinman Says: “Not to get too far off topic, but do you know how much you are being tracked by private companies?

    Indeed, I do know some of this. Nobody knows the full extent, of course, because private companies usually keep their datamining activities closely held–the light of day tending to cause public outcry.

    Private data aggregation is just one more reason to keep the government out of this business altogether. In fact, the Pentagon already started a project to aggregate all available public and private databases, called the Total Information Awareness project. It has since been publicly scrapped, but given the recent revelations about NSA warantless wiretaps, it is entirely possible the TIA project has been moved to a secret status.

    Again, I’ve never contended that the NSA persistent cookies violation was a big deal unto itself, but accidental or not, it calls attention to a wide swath of civil liberties violations by the current Administration.

  • Scote

    smo Says: ”
    Scote writes: ” . . . Administration has been so successful in propagating the meme that questioning the Administration is treason . . .”, etc.

    Come on, Scote. Has anyone here accused you of this, during this discussion? If not, why bring it up?”

    The rest of the quote was “the Administration has been so successful in propagating the meme that questioning the Administration is treason, aids the enemy, means you don’t support the troops.” The position was slightly more inclusive than your synopsis.

    As to accusations of treason in this thread, no. But I have had people do so in previous threads on this site. But, there has been the assumption that my criticism of the Administration was anti-troop.

    For instance, Just a Grunt wrote, “You didn’t give a rats ass about us then, excuse us for finding your motivation a bit suspect now.”

    And Giaus Arbo assumes that I’m against the troops, writing “On Tuesday, my son reports to deploy for his second tour in Iraq.

    So, I get to sweat out another year waiting for him to get home safely. I guess that’s not a sacrifice to you. Oh, and his entire family, new fiance and all her folks must not count either.”

    Granted, the level of discourse has been fairly reasonable but I do think it is a fair contention that many people (especially the Administration) try paint Bush Critics as anti troop and that such attacks are generally false and often malicious.

  • Gaius Arbo

    Sigh.

    “Well, that is a legitimate question. Though I note you don’t bother to try and disprove any of my contentions.”

    I did not have to disprove any of your contentions. I asked you to cite a reference. Very simple, actually.

    You did so. Thank you.

    You also negated your own contentions in the process. From your own post:

    “agencies are prohibited from using persistent cookies or any other means (e.g., web beacons) to track visitors’ activity on the Internet except as provided in subsection (b) below”

    The setting of the cookie does not provide proof that the relevant section of your own citation was violated. Where is the proof that the cookie was used to track activity? THe mere setting of the cookie does not prove tracking, please see the above, more technical comments about that subject.

    And frankly, stating – repeatedly – that a statute was violated then later acknowledging that no statute violation occurred negates your entire string of logic. Knowingly using a mis-statement of fact as the springboard of a discussion completely negates all that follows it. (Spare me any “BUSH LIED statements, please.)

    As for this particular statement: “Speaking of “repeating memes,” that seems to be what you are doing. It is extremely sad that the Administration has been so successful in propagating the meme that questioning the Administration is treason, aids the enemy, means you don’t support the troops. “, please show me exactly where I stated ANY of your complaints.

    I just can’t find anything I typed that says that you committed treason, aided the enemy or that you didn’t support the troops. So stop projecting onto me.

    You ARE repeating things I have read elsewhere today, virtually word-for-word. That would be a meme. So would the “never asked the American People to support….” be a meme. Your later qualification “general public” does not negate your earlier blanket statement.

    Your ready use of hysterical, unfounded blanket charges and cries of “Police State” are ridiculous. As others have said, if this was a Police State you WOULD already be silenced. Instead you get to post whatever you want anywhere you feel like it. (on a site that -gasp – sets COOKIES on your browser. How do you think it remembers your login ID?)

    Incidently, it is the belief of my son and a LOT of his fellow soldiers that the general public has no reason – or right – to see flag-draped coffins. It is disrespectful to take pictures of what is a solemn, VERY private agony for the families. This particular meme is ghoulish and beneath the dignity of anyone who repeats it. (Yeah, that last sentence was a jab, Scote).

    Disclaimer – I am not a particular fan of GWB, and I never did get that VRWC card I sent for. Dang, I guess I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have me as a member anyway.

  • cosmo

    P.S. On second thought:

    Scote writes: “It is extremely sad that the Administration has been so successful in propagating the meme that questioning the Administration is treason, aids the enemy, means you don’t support the troops.”

    This, Scote, is itself a meme. And a awfully tired one, too.

    Scote write: “I never claimed the NSA cookies violation was significant on its own but only in a larger context.”

    So after all the screetching about dire threats to the Republic, all you can come up with is ‘what-it-all-means-in-the-larger-context’ dissembling? Fake but accurate, eh? Points to a larger truth, does it? Fortunately, rules of evidence are a bit more demanding.

    Scote writes: “. . . accidental or not, it calls attention to a wide swath of civil liberties violations by the current Administration . . .”

    Allegations do not constitute a violation of law. Back to Gaius’ question. Cite the law. Then bring the charges. Then prove them.

    Scote writes: “they can detain people secretly and forever without trial and without court review–even US citizens”

    This been the case in other wars we’ve fought. If you’d like to change the rules, fine.

    Scote writes: “It would seem that there is no amount of evidence that you would deem sufficient to cause you to believe the Administration has acted unlawfully.”

    Except for evidence present before a legitimate court or congressional hearing. Again, Scote, you’re bringing the charges. The burden of proof is on you. That’s the way it works here in the new American police state.

  • Big Al

    I can’t decide whether (1) the media outlets breathlessly reporting this shocking “revelation” are completely clueless as to what cookies actually are, what they can and can’t do, the fact that almost everyone uses them, etc., or (2) they actually do know that this is a non-story but are just using it as an excuse to dogpile on the administration. I suppose, though, it is possible to combine the two, as Scote has so amply demonstrated.

  • APF

    So basically the conclusions we can come to:

    1. The NSA web guys need to be more sensitive when they upgrade their CMS packages.

    2. It’s actually a ton more scary the degree to which private companies can track you online; so if you’re concerned, be proactive and block that stuff as best you can.

    3. Countries other than the US (I just got pinged by foreign government addresses while writing this post) don’t follow the same protocols or have the same restrictions as they do here, so see #2 above.

    4. Weblogs remembering your name or collecting usage stats are one step away from TOTALITARIAN POLICE STATES!! SITE METER IS TEH HITLERZ!!!

  • Angelos

    Scote writes: “It is extremely sad that the Administration has been so successful in propagating the meme that questioning the Administration is treason, aids the enemy, means you don’t support the troops.”

    This, Scote, is itself a meme. And a awfully tired one, too.

    Cosmo, do I really need to spend the next 5 minutes googling up 25 quotes from Bush administration member and Fox media people, calling anti-Bush and anti-War people traitors? And now, people who don’t like their contitutional rights violated, they’re anti-national security?

    Meme? No, more like the standard line of attack.

    The funny thing is, according to people in your world, 60%+ of the population are traitors. Get a clue.

    You are now, and have been for a while, on EVERY poll item, a member of the vast minority.

    Iraq? Social Security “reform?” Torture? Domestic spying? Losers, all of them. The nation has woken up. Unfortunately, a year too late.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    Given the number of libertarians posting here I’m a little reluctant to get into the big brother area, but…

    There are those who are optimistic and think that government is looking out for their safety. These people tend to overlook, justify or minimize secret policing.

    Then there are those who are pessimistic and think that government can’t be trusted beyond a fairly narrow limit on secret surveillance. In my view the pessimists seem to be right more often then not, judging from history.

    I’ve written a short essay on this, using only historical examples. Some people may not think they apply to the current era, but learning from history is about all we have to go on.

    Surveillance vs Liberty

  • Pingback: BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » Cookie monsters

  • Gaius Arbo

    This is really getting to the point of paranoid delusion, isn’t it?

  • http://www.kirabug.com kirabug

    Scote wrote:

    “The Republican party used to be the party of individual rights, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility.”

    Most of us still are, despite what you may read in certain media outlets. Why, that’s quite a wide brush you’re painting with sir. Please try to stick with the argument in hand, which was summed up beautifully with Point 1 (and unfortunately, Point 4) of AFP’s post above.

    Scote wrote:

    “However, NSA technology for intercepts is **mass** spying, automatically listening for key words in huge masses of traffic, so the NSA may be spying on **anyone** who mentions those phrases in an international call, not just specific people.”

    Has nothing to do with cookies.

    Scote wrote:

    “No, this is truly an issue of how government entities are ignoring Federal law under the Bush administration. The Federal privacy laws (such as they are) are, in this case, designed to prevent the assimilation of data by the Fed. The NSA specifically violated a Federal Law.”

    and then

    “The original guidelines were issued by the OMB in 2000.”

    and in the same post

    “It is a sad day when the misdeeds of the current Administration are so outrageous that merely reporting the demonstrable facts passes for hyperbole.”

    Okay, so wait, when I checked this thread a few days ago the story was about COOKIES. At least, I thought it was. But now I notice that hey, Scote was on the whole ‘wiretapping’ story all the way back at the top.

    And hyperbole? Dude, some IT admin missed a setting when configuring a server to give to the government and some other IT guy admin missed checking it when it came in. The technical equivalent of forgetting to shut the bathroom light off after getting ready for work in the morning. Scote opens up the field by announcing that this is breaking of a Federal Law when he himself admits later it was the equivalent of missing a memo.

    And it was fixed. And no one’s been tortured or had their phone tapped as a result.

    Scote also wrote:

    I love a healthy discussion. I’m glad to see the level of discourse is fairly moderate, yet I am somewhat surprised that my position has been so consistently knocked down. One might say that it is because I’m wrong (as many will no doubt second the motion), or it could be that there truly is an amazing indifference to the violations that have been going on under the Bush Administration.

    I love it!! Scote, you’re a master. We’re almost all here to say, “This is not news.” That’s the part that makes you wrong, buddy, not whether or not there are violations going on under the Bush Administration. Every once in a while, THAT’S NOT THE POINT. The point is, A COOKIE SETTING THAT WAS FIXED IS NOT NEWS.

    Now, this was fun and all, but I’m going to jump over to the “GIF counters” thread and find out if any tinfoil hats there want to link it to Bush eating babies for breakfast in three posts or less.

  • james

    While the White House (AP reports) only counts the number of visitors anonymously and doesn’t record personal information, the issue of Web bugs is bigger than that, because the things can, and are, used to track users who, whether they know it or not, are no more anonymous than their IP addresses, which are totally knowable.
    Wanna get paranoid? Think about that the next time you visit a porn site. Or a site considered a threat to Homeland Security.
    If there’s a hat here, it isn’t tin, it’s old. Here’s a Web bug FAQ from the EFF, written back in 1999. That’s also when “Richard M. Smith” first started writing about the topic.

  • richard mcenroe

    The MoveOn crew I counterprotest didn’t bring out their “Spy in Chief” placards this week. I guess this meme has reached its sell-by date.

  • Fred Z

    Whadaya mean you can’t hold people without charges and without a hearing?

    My father was taken and held by agents of the US government for 4 years!!!! He was definitely a non-combatant!!!!!!! (okay, no more !!!!!!) He was held behind barbed wire the entire time in heavily guarded secret wilderness camps. At the end he was released without a hearing, without a conviction and without compensation. He never done nobody no wrong.

    Oh wait a minute. It was 1942. He was a ‘non-combatant’ merchant sailor on a German ‘privately owned’ submarine supply boat just off the Spanish coast, carrying only sauerkraut and bier, none of those nasty torpedos, shells nor nuthin’. Or so he says, laughing his head off. Flying a Spanish flag too, as I recall. He was then 19, a devoted Nazi, Hitler youth, whole ball of wax. What kind of loon would have wanted him free? Or had any doubts about locking him up? Or hesitated 1 microsecond in eavesdropping on every word he exchanged with an American citizen?

    Even so the poor misunderstood boy now realizes his civil rights were violated and he needs lawyers, tons of them. Bring on the plaintiffs’ bar. Sue everyone.

    My own perhaps paranoid theory is that most of these loony leftoid scares are watched carefullyby the Democrat leftist bar ‘trying them on for size’. If they ever find one that fits and resonates with Joe Average, they won’t want criminal sanctions against wrongdoers, they will want their usual blackmail blood money.

  • Ravo

    It sure is fun to watch the libbies squeel when their pig is poked.

    AND

    You know what’s most amazing about all this. The number of people who’ve suddenly converted into strict ideological libertarians now that the President is Republican. Wanna bet that that ideological purity evaporates as soon as the President is a Dem?

    Wow, don’t think that could ever happen if we just keep this issue in front of the voters. Could anyone ever trust that liberals have what it takes to keep our country safe from terrorists after reading this?

  • http://www.lrs3.com/blog Lou

    Recommendation to Scote – immediately cancel your internet service, your electrical service, your water and sewer. Cancel all magazine and newspaper subscriptions, better yet remove your mailbox from the street. Immediately line the entire inside of your house, including windows and doors, with heavy-duty aluminum foil, quit your job, pull your kids out of school, and for god’s sake stay inside. We’re coming to get you!!

  • http://www.wingercomics.com/ Carson Fire

    Angelos: what does your gun ownership have to do with gun control measures? Gun control kooks like Rosie O’Donnell have bodyguards who pack heat, and all that proves is that they are hypocrites. The best liberal gun control keeps guns out of the hands of regular people and keeps them in control of our betters, like you.

    By the way, I think Scote is a Karl Rove plant. He’s too good to be true.

  • Pingback: My Stuff

  • Bob

    Scote, you are a moron

  • Scote

    Bob Says:
    ‘Scote, you are a moron”

    Wow, bob, your clever evisceration of every argument I’ve made is utterly devastating. You have keenly found detailed flaws in all of my examples and cited evidence and argumentation for all of your positions that is so clearly convincing that I must bow in awe to your superior intellect.

    While I have argued my views with respect for other people’s positions, I’m sorry to see that you can’t do the same. I can only conclude that your your personal insult is a substitute for the intellectual ability to form an actual argument.

  • http://www.korlapundit.coom Korla Pundit

    Bob, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  • Scote

    Korla Pundit Says” Bob, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.”

    It is sad to see that you, too, have no facts or logical argument to back your position. When you have to fall to personal attacks, it only shows the weakness of your position.

    My arguments stand unchallenged by you. There are some weakness in my arguments but also clear verifiable facts. You, on the other hand, can’t even distinguish one from the other.

    Why not bring the level of discourse up to the level of facts and rationality rather than merely attacking someone who’s views challenge yours? It is up to all of us to bring up the level of political discourse from the bad-old-days of the Red Scare, I’m sorry you choose to stay behind and attack people rather than actual problems in government and policy.

  • http://www.korlapundit.coom Korla Pundit

    > the bad-old-days of the Red Scare,

    Funny you should make the comparison, but it turns out that there WAS a red under the bed. Defenders of Stalin in the ’50s poo-pooed the notion that the USSR was “evil” and had it out for us. Diehard sociialists to this day defend the traitorous Rosenbergs. The press back then covered up what they knew about the gulags and death camps in Russia. And it extended all the way into the ’90s when the USSR finally fell.

    It sounds very similar to the left’s defense of the rights of islamofascists to wage war unmolested on the civilized world. Thank God neither Gore nor Kerry got into the White House, or they would be following your unreasonable absolutist advice. People who care more about the chances of having their embarrassing remarks recorded by faceless men in black than they do about the chance of a city being vaporized have no business deciding national defense policy.

    >Why not bring the level of discourse up to the level of facts and rationality …

    Oh, that’s rich coming from somebody who spouts:

    > As the current administration is transforming the US into a police state…

    You make me laugh, sir.

  • Scote

    Korla Pundit writes:”Oh, that’s rich coming from somebody who spouts:

    > As the current administration is transforming the US into a police state…

    You make me laugh, sir.”

    You can disagree with the position and argue your case with facts, evidence and reasoning for why you think I’m wrong. That is a reasonable discourse. But, you support Bob’s personal attack on me. That is not reasonable discourse.

    And by the way, I’m not some lone nut who has made up the idea that the US is turning in to the police state. Other reputable individuals also argue the case, including Former NSA intelligence agent Russell Tice.

    As much as you might wish it were so, calling me a moron doesn’t make my arguments false. Perhaps you might wish to take a course in reason? It seems like a refresher course might be in order…

  • http://www.korlapundit.coom Korla Pundit

    By referring to the Bush administration as a police state, by comparing Bush to Hitler (and unfavorably), by using the word fascist every other paragraph, by declaring Bush the “world’s worst terrorist” and a dictator, people like you do a great disservice by watering down the awfulness of such words.

    There are real police states in this world. Two recent examples, the Taliban and Saddam’s Iraq, are now democracies thanks mostly to the President, and no thanks to liberals who tried everything in their power to stop him. No thanks to Amnesty International who insist that only mass email petitions will free people from torture, and actually doing something makes you worse than Saddam.

    Fascism is a serious thing. For some idiot to glibly shoot his mouth off and call Bush a fascist devalues all the real suffering that goes on under REAL dictators.

  • Kentucky

    Man, what a well set-up website!