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To connect the dots, you have to see the dots (Steyn)
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | Mark Steyn

Posted on 05/14/2006 2:23:55 AM PDT by croak

Here are two news stories from the end of last week. The first one you may have heard about. As "The Today Show's" Matt Lauer put it:

"Does the government have your number? This morning a shocking new report that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans."

The second story comes from the United Kingdom and what with Lauer's hyperventilating you may have missed it. It was the official report into the July 7 bus and Tube bombings. As The Times of London summarized the conclusions:

"Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the bomb cell, had come to the attention of MI5 [Britain's domestic intelligence agency] on five occasions but had never been pursued as a serious suspect . . .

"A lack of communication between police Special Branch units, MI5 and other agencies had hampered the intelligence-gathering operation;

"There was a lack of co-operation with foreign intelligence services and inadequate intelligence coverage in . . ."

(Excerpt) Read more at suntimes.com ...


TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: marksteyn; mi5; nsa; spying; steyn

1 posted on 05/14/2006 2:23:56 AM PDT by croak
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To: croak
To connect the dots, you have to see the dots

This NSA debate can only hurt the democrats. Bring it on!

ELECTION 2006 LINKS

2 posted on 05/14/2006 2:27:48 AM PDT by MaineVoter2002 (http://jednet207.tripod.com/PoliticalLinks.html)
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To: croak
Great column by Stein.

The Dems are shameless, utterly shameless, in their use of the "innocent Americans" sloganeering. Everyone not found guilty of a crime is innocent, so who else is there to investigate when trying to stop a crime but innocent people?

President George W. Bush is fighting for our side, America, in the War on Terror. Who are the Democrats fighting for?

3 posted on 05/14/2006 2:40:11 AM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Stay home in November and let the Democrats build that wall lickety split!)
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To: croak

Stein = Steyn


4 posted on 05/14/2006 2:42:30 AM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Stay home in November and let the Democrats build that wall lickety split!)
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To: Pokey78

Steyn ping


5 posted on 05/14/2006 2:53:33 AM PDT by metesky ("Brethren, leave us go amongst them." Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond- The Searchers)
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To: croak

Excellent article by the master wordsmith and wit: Mark Steyn!


6 posted on 05/14/2006 6:03:21 AM PDT by alwaysconservative (Friends don't let friends ride with a Kennedy.)
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To: croak

We (FR) have known about Echel** for years -- it is only now, pre-election 2006, that the leftstream media has chosen to use it to try to undermine the confidence, of the masses, in the current administration.


7 posted on 05/14/2006 6:22:54 AM PDT by Ed_in_NJ (Who killed Suzanne Coleman?)
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To: croak

BTTT


8 posted on 05/14/2006 6:40:39 AM PDT by kellynla (Freedom of speech makes it easier to spot the idiots! Semper Fi!)
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To: Darkwolf377
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Here are two news stories from the end of last week. The first one you may have heard about. As "The Today Show's" Matt Lauer put it:

"Does the government have your number? This morning a shocking new report that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans."

The second story comes from the United Kingdom and what with Lauer's hyperventilating you may have missed it. It was the official report into the July 7 bus and Tube bombings. As The Times of London summarized the conclusions:

"Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the bomb cell, had come to the attention of MI5 [Britain's domestic intelligence agency] on five occasions but had never been pursued as a serious suspect . . .

"A lack of communication between police Special Branch units, MI5 and other agencies had hampered the intelligence-gathering operation;

"There was a lack of co-operation with foreign intelligence services and inadequate intelligence coverage in . . ."

Etc., etc., ad nauseam.

So there are now two basic templates in terrorism media coverage:

Template A (note to editors: to be used after every terrorist atrocity): "Angry family members, experts and opposition politicians demand to know why complacent government didn't connect the dots."

Template B (note to editors: to be used in the run-up to the next terrorist atrocity): "Shocking new report leaked to New York Times for Pulitzer Prize Leak Of The Year Award nomination reveals that paranoid government officials are trying to connect the dots! See pages 3,4,6,7,8, 13-37."

How do you connect the dots? To take one example of what we're up against, two days before 9/11, a very brave man, the anti-Taliban resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, was assassinated in Afghanistan by killers posing as journalists. His murderers were Algerians traveling on Belgian passports who'd arrived in that part of the world on visas issued by the Pakistani High Commission in the United Kingdom. That's three more countries than many Americans have visited. The jihadists are not "primitives". They're part of a sophisticated network: They travel the world, see interesting places, meet interesting people -- and kill them. They're as globalized as McDonald's -- but, on the whole, they fill in less paperwork. They're very good at compartmentalizing operations: They don't leave footprints, just a toeprint in Country A in Time Zone B and another toe in Country E in Time Zone K. You have to sift through millions of dots to discern two that might be worth connecting.

I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. "Look at this headline," huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?"

No. But next time he's flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?

Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let's scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government's snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab." In a country whose Transportation Security Administration personnel recently pulled Daniel Brown off the plane as a security threat because he had traces of gunpowder on his boots -- he was a uniformed U.S. Marine on his way home from Iraq -- in such a culture any security measure will involve "tens of millions of Americans": again by definition, if one can't profile on the basis of religion or national origin or any other identifying mark with identity-group grievance potential, every program will have to be at least nominally universal.

Last week, apropos the Moussaoui case, I remarked on the absurdity of victims of the London Blitz demanding the German perpetrators be brought before a British court. Melanie Phillips, a columnist with the Daily Mail in London and author of the alarming new book Londonistan, responded dryly, "Ah, but if we were fighting World War Two now, we'd lose."

She may be right. It's certainly hard to imagine Pat Leahy as FDR or Harry Truman or any other warmongering Democrat of yore. To be sure, most of Pat's Vermont voters would say there is no war; it's just a lot of fearmongering got up by Bush and Cheney to distract from the chads they stole in Florida or whatever. And they're right -- if, by "war," you mean tank battles in the North African desert and air forces bombing English cities night after night. But today no country in the world can fight that kind of war with America. If that's all "war" is, then (once more by definition) there can be no war. If you seek to weaken, demoralize and bleed to death the United States and its allies, you can only do it asymmetrically -- by killing thousands of people and then demanding a criminal trial, by liaising with terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then demanding the government cease inspecting your phone records.

I yield to no one in my antipathy to government, but not everyone who's on the federal payroll is a boob, a time-server, a politically motivated malcontent or principal leak supplier to the New York Times. Suppose you're a savvy mid-level guy in Washington, you've just noticed a pattern, you think there might be something in it. But it requires enormous will to talk your bosses into agreeing to investigate further, and everyone up the chain is thinking, gee, if this gets out, will Pat Leahy haul me before the Senate and kill my promotion prospects? There was a lot of that before 9/11, and thousands died.

And five years on?

9 posted on 05/14/2006 8:04:52 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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bump


10 posted on 05/14/2006 10:33:06 AM PDT by Museum Twenty (Proudly supporting President George W. Bush - Proudly shouting "Rumsfeld '08!")
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To: alwaysconservative
The American liberals will have an especially hard time trying to refute Steyn. He English reads extremely "British" to a typical American such as this paragraph:

I yield to no one in my antipathy to government, but not everyone who's on the federal payroll is a boob, a time-server, a politically motivated malcontent or principal leak supplier to the New York Times...

This type of wit is very intimidating to an American liberal. I doubt the typical politically correct, humourless, writing-in-a-boring-pseudopreachy-prose Deaniac can even understand what Steyn is writing. And that is a good thing.

11 posted on 05/14/2006 1:24:20 PM PDT by NZerFromHK (Leftism is like honey mixed with arsenic: initially it tastes good, but that will end up killing you)
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To: NZerFromHK

And you've nailed it also about the typical leftist: preachy and humorless. Let's face it, all the wit and brainpower IS on our side!


12 posted on 05/14/2006 5:00:05 PM PDT by alwaysconservative (Friends don't let friends ride with a Kennedy.)
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To: alwaysconservative
I still know some lefties who can write with humour. The problem is, they aren't Americans and even their numbers are quickly being diminished.

It is funny when they put forth mouthfuls of "against Americanisations of Canada/New Zealand/British/German life", when in fact their own stands, ideologies, and tactics are becoming Americanized to the Michael Moore MoveOn.org loonies type. They may be on the Left sure, they are also Americans with big A.
13 posted on 05/14/2006 5:03:47 PM PDT by NZerFromHK (Leftism is like honey mixed with arsenic: initially it tastes good, but that will end up killing you)
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To: Dog Gone
Thanks for the whole thing DG.

L

14 posted on 05/15/2006 2:36:54 AM PDT by Lurker (50% of the country is not fit to run a convenience store.)
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To: Lurker

Wish Steyn was Tony Snow's shoulder angel during meetings with the MSM.


15 posted on 05/15/2006 2:50:55 AM PDT by DCPatriot ("It aint what you don't know that kills you. It's what you know that aint so" Theodore Sturgeon)
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To: Ed_in_NJ
We (FR) have known about Echel** for years -- it is only now, pre-election 2006, that the leftstream media has chosen to use it to try to undermine the confidence, of the masses, in the current administration.

That is how two party system is supposed to work - the party in opposition has incentive to scrutinize the party in power.

16 posted on 05/15/2006 5:15:41 AM PDT by A. Pole (Heraclitus: "Nothing endures but change.")
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To: croak; Dog Gone; Lando Lincoln; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; Valin; King Prout; SJackson; dennisw; ...
Mark Steyn:

...The jihadists are not "primitives". They're part of a sophisticated network: They travel the world, see interesting places, meet interesting people -- and kill them. They're as globalized as McDonald's -- but, on the whole, they fill in less paperwork. They're very good at compartmentalizing operations: They don't leave footprints, just a toeprint in Country A in Time Zone B and another toe in Country E in Time Zone K. You have to sift through millions of dots to discern two that might be worth connecting.

I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. "Look at this headline," huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?"

No. But next time he's flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?

Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let's scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government's snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab." In a country whose Transportation Security Administration personnel recently pulled Daniel Brown off the plane as a security threat because he had traces of gunpowder on his boots -- he was a uniformed U.S. Marine on his way home from Iraq -- in such a culture any security measure will involve "tens of millions of Americans": again by definition, if one can't profile on the basis of religion or national origin or any other identifying mark with identity-group grievance potential, every program will have to be at least nominally universal...


Nailed It!
Moral Clarity BUMP !

This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention. You can see the list of articles I pinged to lately  on  my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about). Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.  

17 posted on 05/15/2006 7:25:28 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Tolik

A good piece by Steyn.. Wish I had Leahy's private email address so I could send this to him and CC it to the rest of his Dem cohorts.


18 posted on 05/15/2006 7:57:53 AM PDT by jazusamo (-- Married a WAC in '65 and I'm still reenlisting. :-)
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To: croak

Steyn bump!


19 posted on 05/15/2006 7:59:01 AM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: croak
I yield to no one in my antipathy to government, but not everyone who's on the federal payroll is a boob, a time-server, a politically motivated malcontent or principal leak supplier to the New York Times. Suppose you're a savvy mid-level guy in Washington, you've just noticed a pattern, you think there might be something in it. But it requires enormous will to talk your bosses into agreeing to investigate further, and everyone up the chain is thinking, gee, if this gets out, will Pat Leahy haul me before the Senate and kill my promotion prospects? There was a lot of that before 9/11, and thousands died.

And five years on?

Exactly!

Before an attack: illegal spying on US citizens!

After the attack: why didn't they connect the dots?

Leahy and company won't be happy till more Americans are murdered here on our own soil.

20 posted on 05/15/2006 8:13:28 AM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: Tolik
Thanks for ping. I'd like to see Steyn on the tube more.(saw him once on Cspan). He says he doesn't want to do the Crossfire-type scream matches, and I don't blame him, but I'd like to see him sit down alone with, say, Larry King for a full hour. (instead of that jackass Bill Maher, who's on King's show so often he's practically a co-host--or better yet, I'd like to see him on with Bill Maher, shoving Maher's BS back down his throat). He'd be great.

Mark Steyn should be a household name.

21 posted on 05/15/2006 8:18:40 AM PDT by Roscoe Karns
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To: Tolik

Great column, thanks for the ping! I wish some of the talking heads could speak as clearly as Steyn on this topic.


22 posted on 05/15/2006 8:23:09 AM PDT by MizSterious (Anonymous sources often means "the voices in my head told me.")
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To: croak

MARK STEYN has an excellent description of the data mining and why it's not a privacy issue. Terror and criminal investigations rely on a lot of connect the dots data.

These phone records show all numbers dialed everywhere and are not connected with identities. The connect the dots comes in when you use a Known bad guy's phone number and run all the calls it made to other numbers.

If bomber Ali often called one number in Detroit, is it a falafel place for food or is the guy running it Ali's secret banker?

The FBI needs the number frequency as sufficient cause to ask a judge to get a warrant to go in and check the falafel place's bank and financial records. At the warrant point it is a privacy issue and the judge is the screen on the cop's behavior.


23 posted on 05/15/2006 8:44:01 AM PDT by RicocheT
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To: croak
By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots...

Sounds like a "tag" to me.

24 posted on 05/15/2006 9:10:33 AM PDT by GOPJ (By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots... -- Mark Steyn)
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To: Tolik

Thanks for the ping.


25 posted on 05/15/2006 9:11:20 AM PDT by GOPJ (By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots... -- Mark Steyn)
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To: Tolik

Good ping. Thanks!


26 posted on 05/15/2006 9:23:23 AM PDT by kAcknor (Don't flatter yourself.... It is a gun in my pocket.)
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To: croak
If you seek to weaken, demoralize and bleed to death the United States and its allies, you can only do it asymmetrically -- by killing thousands of people and then demanding a criminal trial, by liaising with terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then demanding the government cease inspecting your phone records.

Excellent Steyn ping!

27 posted on 05/15/2006 9:45:48 AM PDT by Gritty (Pan-Islamics are now the I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmonee crowd-Mark Steyn)
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To: RicocheT

"MARK STEYN has an excellent description of the data mining and why it's not a privacy issue. Terror and criminal investigations rely on a lot of connect the dots data. These phone records show all numbers dialed everywhere and are not connected with identities."



Yes...and he does a great job of exposing the hypocrisy of liberals, who, with their race-conscience attitudes, should see nothing wrong with including most, if not all Americans. I can only imagine the outrage from these same people if it were just the Mohammed's being tracked. Then again, we don't even know these identities so this shouldn't even be an issue...frickin' hypocrites.


28 posted on 05/15/2006 10:03:17 AM PDT by cwb (Liberalism is the opiate of the *sses.)
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To: Roscoe Karns
I don't need that high blood pressure watching Bill Maher without being able to confront him. But, you are right of course: Mark Steyn is one of that rare talents who brings clarity into the situation AND does it with his trademark delicious language.
29 posted on 05/15/2006 1:01:23 PM PDT by Tolik
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To: Dog Gone

Thank you.


30 posted on 05/15/2006 3:39:44 PM PDT by Brian Allen (All that is required to ensure the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. -- Edmund Burke)
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