Saturday, April 15, 2006

NY Times: Even the Corrections are Dishonest. (Is the Times still Defending the Human Rights of Machines?)

The guys at Powerline have been at the forefront of the FISA/wiretap controversy since the news broke last December. Between the three writers at Powerline there has even been some disagreement about the constitutional powers of the executive branch. Last month the NY Times had (another) dishonest article about the FISA court that included the testimony of four FISA judges in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Strangely, accurate Senate transcripts have been available since the original testimony. After some badgering the Times finally issued a correction in Friday’s print and on-line editions. The Powerline guys have written on this ridiculous controversy here.

Beyond the fact that the correction does not go far enough the Times continues its abuse of the English language by describing the targets of the relevant wiretaps as “Americans”. It is likely that some of the wiretap’s targets are citizens but it is almost assured that most are not actual citizens. Are members of al qaeda who are here illegally “Americans”? Are green card-holding members of al qaeda “Americans”? Are members of al qaeda who are here on student and tourist visas “Americans”? Are telephonic routing devices now considered “Americans”? The last point is one that has been lightly glossed over by most observers; it is likely that some of the phone numbers that have been tapped are nothing more than devices that forward phone calls to another phone number. Even simple cell and land based phones have that option. The rerouted phone number could be anywhere in the US or the world. Ever since this story broke last December, it has struck me that the Times and most of the rest of the “goofball media” may very well be defending the human and civil rights of machines. This is coming from the people who make common cause with the anti-globalization crowd. Rage against the machine indeed!


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