11 Apr 2006

Bush X-Rayed My Book!

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Quick! Call the ACLU, alert the editorial page crusaders, and queue up Warren Zevon’s Poor, Poor Pitiful Me on the stereo. My civil rights have been violated.

A book I ordered from a store in France arrived yesterday in an impressive purple-ziplocked baggie, bearing abundant evidence of official scrutiny.

You or I could probably tell that a padded envelope contained a paperback book just by feeling it, but the government needed to X-ray it.

This terrrible intrusion on my privacy struck me as very similar to having one’s emails data-mined. The government is applying a cumbersome, and rather clumsy, kind of mechanical mass processing in an effort to find the small threatening needle in the vast haystack of American international communications.

Since I’m not actually trying to exchange signals with al Qaeda or import botulism toxin, I and my French book are nothing more than background static to the people conducting those searches.

The reality is: they’d have to have enough of an actual interest in you to focus some real attention on you, before they could violate your privacy. X-raying packages, like data-mining emails, is meaningless to you, unless you actually are one of the real objects of all the searching.

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