Terrorsim and the Real Danger of the Surveillance State

Glenn Greenwald, in an excellent post about privacy in the computer database era, relates the following chillling story about the public release of his personal information (italics mine):

I had an ultimately inconsequential but nonetheless quite illustrative personal experience with this several months ago. Back in July, when right-wing blogs were obsessed with investigating my personal life, including where I spend my time, this comment was left at Wizbang, in response to a July 21 post by Wizbang’s Kevin Aylward:

Glenn Greenwald departed the United States on June 22, 2006 and hasn’t come back since. If you want to know how I know that and more, send me an Email.
Posted by: Baggi at July 21, 2006 06:30 AM

The information provided there by “Baggi” was accurate. I left the U.S. on exactly June 22, and as of July 21, had not re-entered the country.
Knowing the date I exited the U.S. would not necessarily require access to a DHS data base. It would be possible, for instance, for someone to have known that I left the country on that date by having access to the records of the specific airline I used to travel. But to know — as this commenter did — that, as of the date of the comment, I had not re-entered the U.S. (even for a day, or a few hours), would absolutely require access to non-public DHS customs and immigration and similar records compiling data regarding international travel. There is simply no other way to have known that (let alone the “and more” to which the commenter obliquely referred).

If this isn’t chilling, I don’t know what is. Suppose this information were available to radical anti-abortion groups targeting OB/GYNs. Or white supremacist groups. Or even…Al-Queda.
Let’s make clear exactly what happened here: someone with a security clearance, either a government employee or a private contractor, willfully released personal information into the public domain for partisan political purposes, information that could be used to commit terrorist acts. While the commentor might be boasting, the knowledge of Greenwald’s travel information suggests otherwise, so the “and more” phrase could very well mean that other information is also available: for example, every Monday afternoon, Greenwald goes to the local supermarket.
Again, the question must be asked: how has the surveillance state made us safer?
Update: According to Greenwald, “Baggi” has identified himself on right-wing websites as an employee of the Department of Homeland Security.

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4 Responses to Terrorsim and the Real Danger of the Surveillance State

  1. Dissident says:

    And were people under the rule of practitioners of atheistically based philosphies in better shape.
    Gulags, brainwashing camps, “re-educaiton” centers…atheists gave us all things.
    And, according to Solzhenitsyn in the Gular Archipelago series is was because of their atheism. Even if nothing else, they wanted to destroy religion.
    They failed.
    So will Dawkins and Harris.
    So will you.

  2. Kristin says:

    Dissident – I was going to post a reasonable response about how wrong you are, but what the hell, you wouldn’t read it or understand it anyway. So here’s the alternative response – Dissident, shut the fuck up.

  3. Ktesibios says:

    Hmm… a base of non sequitur, flavored with ad hominem tu quoque, with overtones of appeal to authority and an aftertaste of red herring…
    Trying to sort out the fallacies in posts from wingnuts and other woowoos is a bit like trying to identify all of the herbs my mom used to use in cooking veal- but nowhere near as enjoyable.

  4. baggihunter says:

    It bugs me that Baggi would abuse his power like this so publically, so I spent a few hours hunting him down and have the below to report. Maybe someone else can take it farther and find him, or will recognize him from the details I have gathered. Note that all of this is from Baggi�s own posts about himself.
    * Recently moved to the Seattle, WA area�very possibly to work for CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Service) in Blaine, Washington
    * Married 8 years , four kids oldest of which is 5 (now 6?), wife’s family is Mormon
    * Has a cousin in Florida
    * He is a Religious fundamentalist
    * Attended a Christian University for two years
    * A frequent poster on shadowclan.com as Baggi
    * A frequent poster on hotstockmarket.com as Baggi
    * A little bit of wikipedia Intelligent Design editing and wikipedian stalker as Bagginator
    * Has posted on polipundit.com with the email address Reels44@hotmail.com
    * �As a United States Immigration Officer for 7 years and now a Customs and Border Protection Officer for 3 years (Still doing the same job under a new name thanks to DHS) I have some experience on the southern border. All my time has been spent here in San Diego working on the Tijuana/San Ysidro border.�
    * Probably in his 30s. Certainly over 30 and very likely under 50. (Cached out a 401k worth 13k, ten year career + 2 years school)
    * He likes to play stock options and forex at work (he is a federal employee) but has firewall issues.
    �and the closest I have come to discovering his real identity�
    * From http://polipundit.com/wp-comments-popup.php?p=12869&c=1, on the topic of immigration, Baggi says “I�ll be on Hugh Hewitts show today at 1620 pacific time talking about this. Hope you all listen in!”
    — 4/5/2006
    I have gone over Hugh Hewitts� podcast site and cannot find any transcripts for the show. The coverage of last March, April and May is a bit weak.

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