18.9.08

The Warrantless Snag of Sarah Palin's E-mail

Today, an American citizen's privacy is something worth fighting for. That, of course, stands in opposition to the past eight years of official government policy towards citizens' privacy which was essentially, "bend over and spread those cheeks." After several years of government probing-devices that reached deep into the rectal recesses of American libraries and personal telephone calls, Pitbull/Mom of the Century, Sarah Palin, has had her e-mail hacked and turned public sentiment permanently against invasions of elected officials' privacy.

Palin had nothing to do with the NSA's warrantless wiretapping, of course. But she does sit on a ticket with John McCain who, as a part of his ongoing surrendering-of-all-previously-morally-defensable-positions, reneged on his objection to Bush's illegal surveillance of private American citizens and decided:

"[N]either the Administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and the trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001... John McCain will do everything he can to protect Americans from such threats, including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution."

This is a change from McCain's prior feelings on the subject. When asked in a prior interview whether federal statutes against wiretapping provisions trumped the Article II "inherent power" argument, McCain said, "I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law." A slimey answer from a now-slippery man, no doubt, but still it doesn't quite have the ring of "I will wiretap you."

But wiretapping is done by the government, not hackers. So maybe it's illegal and wrong, but they're still the government; we don't get to monitor them, they get to monitor us. Right?

Sarah Palin is in a bit of a mess back in Alaska over that whole Troopergate thing. I don't really find the Troopergate "scandal" evil or despicable, just mildly amusing and soap-opera-ish, a quality which is pervasive in Palin's life. Part of the Troopergate story is a question of whether government business concerning the firing, or any other state business the public should know about, was conducted through Palin's personal e-mail account in order to avoid culpability should any scrutiny, such as the current investigation, befall the governor at a later date. The McCain campaign decided to employ Bush tactics in protecting Palin from the investigation, detailed below via Harper's:

"First, Palin has asserted that her records and communications are protected by executive privilege. Second, her senior assistants have been instructed not to cooperate with the probe. Third, the Alaska attorney general (a Palin appointee and confidant who faces conflict-of-interest charges himself) has issued a series of opinions designed to bar the way for the probe. So how does the McCain team deal with accusations that it is attempting a cover-up of Palin’s involvement in a matter which, at the very least, raises severe questions about Palin’s credibility? They argue that the inquiry should be handled by the Alaska Personnel Board, not by the legislature. The Personnel Board, of course, is dominated by Palin’s cronies and reports to her."

You've learned well, young paduan.

We already know government business (not necessarily the firing, but government business) was conducted on Palin's personal Yahoo account because of state business e-mails sent accidentally to her government account, whose sender was reprimanded and told to keep such issues confined to Palin's personal e-mail. Turd Blosson, aka Karl Rove, and 80 other members of Bush's team executed a similar strategy articulated by TB in which personal e-mail accounts were used to conduct government business in order to avoid public scrutiny.

I say those e-mails are ours. We own them, the people. If Sarah Palin and Karl Rove want to pull the bullshit they have, and continue to, in order to prevent us from getting at their e-mails discussing how they govern our country, I say fuck them. Hack their accounts, take their family photos along with their e-mails concerning official state business, and post them all over the web. They are not entitled to our deference.

As Mark Slouka wrote in a brilliant essay in Harper's in June this year about the difference between American and British attitudes toward government: "In general, the Brits act as though the government is their business and they have every right to meddle in it. Americans, by and large, display no such self-assurance. To the contrary, we seem to believe, deep in our hearts, that the business of government is beyond our provenance."

For our part, we take our cues from the hypocritical talking-head class who deplore the "despicable, slimey, scummy, websites, that, in a free society, we have to tolerate," as said Bill O'Reilly on Gawker's posting of the Sarah Palin e-mails. Now Gawker is no anti-establishment, WTO bashing, anarchist hang-out, but kudos on splaying out Palin's e-mails, even if you were just looking for clicks past the jump.

We listen to Turd Blossom who has so little self-respect - even George W. Bush knows how thickly swaddled in shit is Rove, and bestowed the "Turd Blossom" moniker upon him - that he appeared on television yesterday and said, "We saw this celebrity private investigator in L.A., he's going to jail for having listened in on peoples' phone conversations. This is someone listening in on your personal e-mail, uh, this is really bad... We should throw 'em under the bus," showing no regard for the fact that he could have easily replaced "private investigator" with "my former employer, George Bush" and, except for the going to jail part, the statement would have still been accurate.

Thomas Jefferson said the tree of liberty had to be refreshed every once in a while with the blood of patriots and tyrants. No reason not to start spilling some 1's and 0's along the way, too.

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