Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

“Old fashioned police work”

Posted by Ron Coleman on May 12, 2007

Threat Level is a Wired blog. It wrote on Friday about the “official deadline for cable modem companies, DSL providers, broadband over powerline, satellite internet companies and some universities to finish wiring up their networks with FBI-friendly surveillance gear, to comply with the FCC’s expanded interpretation of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.”

Threat Level’s Kevin Poulson thinks this is a terrible thing:

It’s worth noting that the new requirements don’t alter the legal standards for law enforcement to win court orders for internet wiretaps. Fans of CALEA expansion argue that it therefore won’t increase the number of Americans under surveillance.That’s wrong, of course. Making surveillance easier and faster gives law enforcement agencies of all stripes more reason to eschew old-fashioned police work in favor of spying.

“Old-fashioned police work”? Yes, capital idea. While Al Qaeda plots the next mass murder in America using wikis, IM, email, SMS texting, secure intranets, FTP, encrypted file-sharing or whatever we find out next time was the new thing latest thing, let’s limit our ability to protect ourselves by freezing law enforcement technology at, say, 1875’s level of technology. Is that old fashioned enough? Fingerprints? No problem. Also footprints, all that stuff you find in Sherlock Holmes. Magnifying glasses are fine. Yes, and throw in a little racial profiling and of course plenty of up-to-the-minute phrenology.

The utterly comical aspect of this is the concept that there is some distinction between old fashioned police work and what Poulson calls spying. What could be more old fashioned than surveillance? But he’s right, let’s do it the old-fashioned way. I’m not so sure he’s going to like it, and I don’t think I dont. But if we’re going to put law enforcement on a fast track to the past, it might just might be the ticket to balance such an absurd and suicidal policy.

UDPATE:    Like I said.


8 Responses to ““Old fashioned police work””

  1. warren said

    I don’t think any technology they can deploy could break into end-to-end secure socket connections. Nobody has the ability break strong encryption in real-time. These tools will be useful, but nobody has the back-door to SSL right now. That’s a fact. So the terrorists are generally secure, unless they’re stupid. (And some of them are stupid, so let’s do what we can to catch the stupid killers, too, but the smart killers won’t get caught in these nets.)


  2. Ara Rubyan said

    What is with the dreary assumption — YET AGAIN — that we Americans have a choice: catch the terrorists or save the constitution. We’re being told that we can’t have both.

    Why not?

    In stark terms, here’s the debate:

    “None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former judge and close ally of the president who sits on the Judiciary Committee.

    “Give me liberty or give me death,” said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who has led a bipartisan filibuster against a reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

  3. Bob Miller said

    Granted that this electronic type of government surveillance can be a good thing, how, in this age of enforced diversity for its own sake, can we keep government surveillance capabilities out of the hands of terrorist sympathizers who worm their way into government agencies?

  4. Ara Rubyan said

    I have a great idea! How about we change the law so that only white people can work in sensitive security positions?

  5. How would that help, Ara? Wouldn’t that also be against the law?

  6. John said

    For the surveillance: Oversight, Oversight, Oversight.

    I might point out that genetically, their’s really no difference between Jew and Arabs, and that many Arabs look as Caucasian as anyone.

    So, essentially, no it wouldn’t do any good, and we’d be losing most of the people who understand Islam and Arab culture.

  7. Bob Miller said

    I can’t see these bumblers in Congress or the Executive Branch doing much useful oversight. What they mostly do is overlook.

  8. Bob Miller said

    As for Ara’s insinuation that I wanted the intelligence services to be lily-white—not so! But every job application needs to be checked out thoroughly and impartially without any regard for the ethnic balance that may result.

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