Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thought police state

"(For quality assurance,
this call will be monitored
and recorded …)"

Fliizzzzz, ka-dunk, whooooOOOooooop, klik …

"Hi … hello? Hello? Uh yes, this is the Sacramento Sheriff's Department. 'Service with concern!' That's our motto!

"Well, we at the department just want you to know that, even though we've denied up and down for months that we secretly access folks' cell phone data, we were in fact … lying.

"— not lying exactly! The federal government and Harris, the maker of the spying equipment made us keep it a secret.

"I'm sure you can agree how the strength of a relationship relies on the highest level of trust.

"Which is why we couldn't tell you, whom we work for.

"But we got found out. You may have heard last week in the news. Yeah, Channel 10, stubborn folks.

"Hard as it is to admit, it turns out we can get hold of your data if we want. Have been able to for, oh, the last eight years.

"We have the best of intentions, you understand — 'Service with concern!' after all! — and maybe we'd have told you if we could. It's just that we were under strict orders not to reveal —

"What's that? The Sheriff's Department, just like I told you …

"No, really …!

"Come again? How did we get your number?

"Isn't this shawn turner illustration? I thought so.

"Let me just answer your question with another question, Mr. Illustration: Shouldn't we have your number? What we mean is: Isn't that the primary way people get hold of you?

"You don't keep your number a secret, do you? Of course not, that's the way you do business, right?!

"Is there some reason you don't want us to have your number? Something you don't want us knowing about, perhaps?

"Hey, calm down, I'm just asking. If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to worry about, right?!

"We're only interested in bad guys. It's for your protection, after all. Let's say a bad guy called you, for some particular reason. You'd want us to protect you from the bad guy — who's calling you for some particular reason, right?

"Besides, we're not the only ones. Lots of other law enforcement agencies are using — uh, scratch that, never mind.

"What? A warrant? Well, we're enjoying what you might call an extended murky period in American civil liberties, where it's not quite clear whether we need a warrant to follow your phone transactions. We're learning on the side of 'No, we don't.'

"Sure, take your complaint to Congress, but Congress signed off on this a long time ago. Something called the Patriot Act, remember? Congress can't do anything about it now. You wanna be a patriot, don't you?


"That noise? Oh, that's the San Jose Police Department, testing out its spy drone. Yes, it's a good 200 miles off course as the crow flies. Good thing the police there haven't used it yet; they need some practice. Look, San Jose apologized for buying the thing and for sneaking it past the city council, and supposedly won't use it until the department gets a good public looking-over. It was only gonna use it on bad guys.

"You meddling citizens, getting in the way of justice.

"Drones are a pretty dumb idea anyway, if you ask me. I mean, you can hear the drones from a mile away. We can get your cell phone info and you won't even know we're comin —

klik … flooooEEEEEEEp — BEbooop … chikachooooook … hissssssssss … klik!

"Hello, who's this? Huh?! We called you?! I don't think so. What? That's for me to know and you to — well, you aren't going to find out, uh … Mr. Illustration.

"I advise you to get off the phone immediately and forget this whole matter. Should you go blabbing, remember: We are not the CIA, we did not break into Senate Intelligence Committee computers, nor did we lie about it in front of God and country.

"Nor are we or our minions spying on you right now.

"You'll just have to trust us.


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