Feeds

DoJ to review domestic surveillance

Bush capitulates, but why?

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Comment With January approaching, bringing foul weather and a Democratic majority to Capitol Hill, the President has abandoned one of his cute little dodges that had shut down Congressional inquiries into the NSA's mass wiretap scandal.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will now conduct a review of the Department's involvement in the affair, as Congress had previously requested. In the past, the White House had thought it clever to deny the inspectors the security clearance necessary to perform this duty, while a Republican majority on the Hill obediently declined to insist.

But the balance of power in Washington is about to shift, and Bush can read the handwriting on the wall as well as anyone. There's no point trying to obstruct the inevitable. Thus the inspectors have finally been granted clearance to do their jobs.

DoJ investigators will examine how the data scooped up by the NSA is handled and applied when US citizens are affected. No doubt the government's practices will be measured against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), although the Bush administration has claimed repeatedly that it answers to a higher authority.

Too easy

This apparently proactive cooperation should strike Washington watchers as preemptive. If the Bushies are willing to concede the issue without a fight, it's most likely because they doubt there's much red meat to be had from it. That is, if they want this investigated first, it's because they want other things investigated last.

The media has made a great fuss about this program, so it should surprise no one if the combination of a whole lot of smoke and a small fire suits the administration quite well. If it keeps Congress and the press occupied, and only hurts the administration moderately, it's a Godsend.

There are so many dark avenues for Congress to illuminate: arbitrary classification of "enemy combatants", indefinite detentions, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons, torture, military kangaroo courts, prisoner abuse, war crimes, phony intelligence used knowingly to justify a needless conflict. Along these avenues lurk unspeakable things involving blood and death, endless loneliness, profound loss, and enduring pain.

The NSA spy scandal offers the administration many virtues as a national hobbyhorse. For one, it's painless and "clean"; no one has been bloodied, maimed, or killed by it. It doesn't melt anyone's skin like the incendiary weapons used in Fallujah; it doesn't blow up one's house and leave half of one's family dead. It doesn't cause the premature burial of young Americans killed in Iraq, whose families need them far more than their country ever did. No one in Iraq is fighting for America, not even the Americans. The USA never needed that war; George W Bush alone needed it, and for a contemptible reason: he thought it would make him Great.

Another virtue of the spy fiasco is its relevance: it (presumably) affects millions of Americans, which the carnage in Iraq and the associated counterterrorist brutality now hidden from us cannot. It's something that the public can appreciate in a personal way. This guarantees it tremendously solid legs in the press. The atrocities in Fallujah will never be as relevant as the thought of Uncle Sam surfing pr0n over your shoulder, or listening to you break up with your boyfriend over the phone.

Indeed, the NSA spy program could be just the media obsession the administration is looking for, now that the balance of power has shifted. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.