Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Below I mentioned that, since I am not in the USA, the fifth amendment doesn't protect me from being shot on site by employees of the US government (or by anything else). Similarly it doesn't protect me from arbitrary arrest or, as they call it here, sequestro di persone (kidnapping). This is not a theoretical issue as CIA employees grabbed someone in Italy and took him to Egypt where he was imprissoned and tortured.

Note that the Italian Republic didn't stop them or even inconvenience them much (except now they have to stay out of Europe where there is a warrant out for their arrest).

Similarly, neither FISA nor the 4th amendment offers me much in the way of protection from having my phone calls, e-mails and blog posts intercepted. Calls to the USA are only not protected because of Bush's criminal program which has now been legalized, but calls to anywhere else were and are totally fair game.

This is not a hypothetical risk. There is an NSA listening station in Italy. The NSA absolutely can listen in. No one is stopping them.

Now, you might ask if I am protected by Italian law. Yes, of course, just as I am protected by Santa Claus. The NSA's activities are clearly forbidden by Italian law, and Santa Claus doesn't like them either. I put more trust in Santa than in the Italian government (which pays my salary by the way).

So what do Italians say about the NSA listening station ? They say "I think it has something to do with air traffic control." And so we see we are all one under the skin. I remember back in the 70s riding in a car with my family (to Sugarloaf mountain no not the one near Rio). I saw a huge expanse of geodesic domes and asked my dad what it was. He said "I think it has something to do with air traffic control." My father has extraordinary intellectual integrity and some months (or years?) later he brought that day's copy of The Washington Post over to me and said "you know that thing I said had something to do with air traffic control ? Well it didn't". There was a large article which explained that that was the NSA's main listening station which had been secret until then. Somewhat later I read about how congress had passed a law called FISA.

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