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March 09, 2007

I Can't Believe It. Just. Cannot. Believe it.

What? The FBI using the Patriot Act as cover to illegally obtain personal information on Americans? How could that possibly be?

What? Newt Gingrich was having an extramarital affair while he was up in arms about Monica Lewinsky? I'm shocked!

What? My fluffy adorable cat a vicious carnivore who disemboweled a rodent and left its bloody remains in my garage? The horror!

Clearly, a day of disillusionment all the way around. I may never trust my government, or my cat, again.

I think I need to lie down.

Posted by john at March 9, 2007 06:10 PM

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Marc Mielke | March 9, 2007 06:25 PM

How dare you mention your cat in the same breath (well, digitized breath) as Newt!

Your cat loves you, and gives you gifts to show it! Even after that thing with the bacon!

A.R.Yngve | March 9, 2007 07:06 PM


The Visitors are our friends.

Adam Rakunas | March 9, 2007 07:08 PM

40 GOTO 10

...that's probably wrong, but what the hell.

Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers | March 9, 2007 07:19 PM

I hate to be the bearer of even stranger news (well, actually I take a great deal of evil pleasure in it, but let's try to keep a little decorum, shall we?), but check out what Sweden's doing. It's much more unexpected than a little cloak-and-dagger by the FBI.

Lis Riba | March 9, 2007 07:22 PM

Clearly, you should've known better than to trust your cat in the first place..

John Scalzi | March 9, 2007 07:23 PM

Oh noes! Not Sweeeeeeden!

Jeff Hentosz | March 9, 2007 07:34 PM

Adam: Hmm, I don't know if it's wrong, but as a joke it's kinda basic.

I am to make laff.

Mitchell | March 9, 2007 07:35 PM

I'm not sure if this is reassuring or not, but the FBI was outed by a DOJ audit. My optimistic side opines that sometimes oversight works; my cynical side opines that it's probably just a turf war.

Discuss. Paranoia optional.

D. | March 9, 2007 07:41 PM

That looks awfully like Mr. Gingrich's photograph next to the dictionary definition of hypocrisy. Mote, I'd like you to meet Beam...

Brian Greenberg | March 9, 2007 07:45 PM

143,074 National Security Letters over 3 years.

8,850 (or 6.2%) letters that weren't properly logged in the database.

26 (or 0.02%) violations of use laws (22 caused by FBI error, 4 caused by the firms receiving the letters).

700 (or 0.5%) letters signed by the wrong guy.

Those bastards...

John Scalzi | March 9, 2007 07:51 PM

Entirely unsurprised to find you being an apologist for incompetent use of powers, there, Brian.

SAP | March 9, 2007 07:56 PM

Gimme a break, Scalzi. Next you'll be telling me that whole neighborhoods in New Orleans are still devastated ...

What, they are? Damn.

SAP | March 9, 2007 08:00 PM

Well, at least you can't tell me that our govenment doesn't support our troops fully. Why, they get the very best healthcare possible at fine facilities like Walter Reed and ...

What? Rats? Mold? You're kidding ...

Steve Buchheit | March 9, 2007 08:16 PM

Shocked! Shocked I am to find that... boy, that joke has gotten old the past 6 years.

Chang, delicate wino | March 9, 2007 08:58 PM

Oh, noes! Teh gummint is liarz? Teh Gingrich likes da hummerz from dah ladiez not his wife.

Entirely unsurprised, unfortunately. I remember hearing stories about Newtie back in the day. He served his wife divorce papers as she lay in bed recovering from cancer surgery. He preferred to have oral gratification administered unto him so that he didn't have to call it sex.

I doubt many heads will roll.

Brian Greenberg | March 9, 2007 10:58 PM

Was anything I said untrue?

What's more likely: an audit finds procedural shodiness and the press jumps all over themselves to call it a sinister cover-up of the FBI stepping all over our civil rights, or the FBI steps all over our civil rights & then disguises it all as procedural errors in the face of an audit?

And, for the record, I don't approve of the procedural errors they did find, and I think heads should roll because of it. Sloppiness is not something we need in our intelligence community. It's likely, though, that most readers will ignore this comment and instead accuse me of being a knee-jerk Bush supporter.

C'est la vie...

John Scalzi | March 9, 2007 11:00 PM

Brian Greenberg:

"Sloppiness is not something we need in our intelligence community."

This we agree on.

J.D. Finch | March 10, 2007 12:27 AM

You think you're shocked? I'll give you shocked.

We've replaced your coffee with Folger's Crystals!

What do you think of that, tough guy?

John Scalzi | March 10, 2007 12:28 AM

I don't drink coffee, so I am, shall we say, less than concerned. I'd steer clear of my wife if I were you, though. Messing with her coffee is not a good idea.

Jim Wright | March 10, 2007 12:32 AM

John, Brian: Technically the FBI is a law enforcement agency, not an intelligence agency.

And to me, that's the really ironic part: a law enforcement agency should damn well know when it's breaking the law.

But I do agree with both of you though, sloppiness in intelligence leads to sloppiness in everything else.

Jim Wright | March 10, 2007 12:35 AM

John, you don't drink alcohol, you don't drink coffee. It's after midnight at your house and you're still on teh intertoobs, what? Do you inject Mountain Dew directly?

John Scalzi | March 10, 2007 12:37 AM

Clean living gives me the endurance of a thousand men, Jim.

Jim Wright | March 10, 2007 12:39 AM

I may have to try that some time.

Patrick in the Philippines | March 10, 2007 01:18 AM

Sorry to raise your blood pressure there John, but have you seen http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/03/08/video-gingrich-blames-uneducated-katrina-victims/ ?

John Scalzi | March 10, 2007 01:28 AM

Yeah, I've seen it. Gingrich is as clueful as ever.

Annalee Flower Horne | March 10, 2007 06:28 AM

I have to agree: the 'shocked' joke has gotten pretty damned old these past six years.

Gingrich's hypocricy will be out of the news cycle long before people stop making Lewinski jokes. Illegal attacks on our right to privacy will continue right up until January 20th, 2009 (and possibly longer, depending on who our next lucky winner is). No matter what stupid crap our fearless leader pulls, no matter how low his approval ratings sink, he's still going to be allowed to get away with it.

We were 'shocked' when we found out his cronies had defrauded the American people out of the president they'd actually elected, too, but if anyone got indicted for election fraud, I never heard about it.

We were 'shocked' when we found out there weren't any WMDs in Iraq. We were 'shocked' when it came out that he was tracking our phonecalls. We were 'shocked' when Cheney outed Plame, but I sincerely doubt he's ever going to see the inside of a jail cell for it.

The pie would taste a lot better if these guys were actually accountable for their misconduct.

...sorry, I'm being a cynical, disgruntled college student all over your schadenfreude. I'll at least hope this comes back to haunt the G-man during his presidential run (that is, assuming his 'I think we need to reconsider free speech' platform doesn't do him in first).

Chang, delicate wino | March 10, 2007 07:33 AM

John Scalzi:

Clean living gives me the endurance of a thousand men, Jim.

EH, where does Coke Zero and cheeze wheeze on toast fit into clean living? Man does not live cleanly by DDR alone, you know.

(This from the Chang who inhaled half a bag of stale ruffles yesterday)

Therese Norén | March 10, 2007 08:12 AM

When it comes to the Swedish wiretapping, we're not surprised. Remember, this is the same government that got caught spying on communists and sharing information with CIA.

Chang, delicate wino | March 10, 2007 08:20 AM

Yeah, but see, spying on bad guys is okay.

Therese Norén | March 10, 2007 08:29 AM

Chang, the Swedish communists had a small party in the parliament (and several smaller parties who split off, much like evangelical churches). Two name changes later (we're now the Left party, simple as that), and after much discussion about the past, we were the third largest party in 1998.

emeraldcite | March 10, 2007 11:53 AM

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who oversees the FBI, described the problems cited in the report as unacceptable and left open the possibility of criminal charges. He ordered further investigation.

"There is no excuse for the mistakes that have been made, and we are going to make things right as quickly as possible," Gonzales said.


I'm shocked that Gonzales found this kind of behavior to be unacceptable...

I mean, really.

Annalee Flower Horne | March 10, 2007 12:21 PM

Wow, emerald. You're right. That one really is shocking.

CaseyL | March 10, 2007 12:27 PM

Great line from the news story about Sweden:

In a misguided attempt to put people at ease, the government admitted that Sweden has been tapping its citizens' phones for decades anyway.

Decades? What for, one wonders? What are those tricky Swedes up to, anyway?

Imani | March 10, 2007 01:53 PM

Who kidnapped Gonzales and replaced him with an alien life form? That's not the Attorney General I know and loathe. Maybe the Raelians got him.

Christopher Davis | March 10, 2007 02:55 PM

"There is no excuse for the mistakes that have been made, and we are going to make things right as quickly as possible," Gonzales said.

Translation: we're going to find out who leaked it and have a little "friendly discussion" with them.

Gwen | March 11, 2007 11:17 AM

I'm pretty sure "yes, we broke the law...but it was an accident!" isn't a valid legal defense. And if it is, Congress should pass a law stating that any official of the federal government who "accidentally" breaks federal law shall be prohibited from working for the federal government for, oh, five years. Call it "the Incompetence Act" or something.
Sloppiness will not be tolerated.

Saucegoose | March 11, 2007 11:31 AM

Actually, when you're the government, or really powerful, "it was an accident" *is* a legal defense. Like, say, Hillary's illegal use of FBI files, her mislaying of subpeonaed Whitewater documents and so on.

You can find examples in every administration back to Nixon. I don't know of any specific examples of the accident defense in Nixon - there were too many proven-intentional violations.

Many laws have an intent component, and as well, society tends to protect law enforcement personnel against accidental breaches of law. Why? Well, who writes the dadgum laws?

TCO | March 12, 2007 10:13 PM

It's not the sex, it's lying under oath. And before you rebut, I have all the Plamiacs thinking that I am an evil liberal, because I was a lone voice calling for Libby conviction...

Anonymous | March 13, 2007 10:00 AM

D. wrote:
That looks awfully like Mr. Gingrich's photograph next to the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

What? Faux moral outrage about a politician you already despised lying about screwing a woman not his wife? Puh-leeze... that's soooo last millennium.

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