Monday, May 15, 2006

Rush LImbaugh and reality

Rush Limbaugh said:

If you've ever watched Law and Order, CSI, whatever, or any other program, you know that law enforcement can go get phone records from any phone company, track cell phone calls to find out who was where when. They produce alibis, they produce suspicion, they produce guilt, any number of things. The idea that this is some sort of secret stuff, have you run the
numbers on what all this would take? There are 300 million Americans, folks. How many of those Americans, how many of us do you think use the phone? Give me a conservative guess of the 300 million. (interruption) Two-hundred million? Okay, 200 million Americans use the phone. Okay. Sixty-five percent of Americans use the phone, use cell phones. They're using cell phones so much you can't walk around without seeing somebody on their phone. They're on their phone constantly. Some people are on the phone when they're not on the phone. They want you to think that they are talking when they are not. The cell phone is a new radio. You can't drive down the street without seeing someone on the phone in their car. They're everywhere.

The reason I mention that is, how much time per day do 200 million people spend talking on the phone? Let's be conservative and say that 200 million Americans talk 30 minutes a day on the phone. (interruption) I know Snerdley doesn't think that. We are just being conservative because you have to factor, I don't talk on the phone. Somebody is using my 30 minutes so we'll average it out. Now these numbers, by the way, come from a subscriber to my website, Gary Karsten. If you got 200 million people talking 30 minutes a day, what you have is six billion talk minutes or 100 million talk hours. Let's say businesses use the phone two hours a day. A hundred thousand businesses, another 12 million talk minutes or 200,000 talk hours, now we're at 100,200,000 talk hours per day. Per day. It would take 4,175,000 people at 24 hours a day to listen in on all of that, and that's probably a low number. Do we have that kind of workforce?

The point of this, even though these are ballpark numbers, ladies and gentlemen, the idea that people are being listened in on -- the president denied it yesterday -- the idea that people are being spied on, it is physically impossible. It simply isn't possible. The collection of these records, the purpose is probably nothing more than creating a database for when something needs to be learned when other indicators pop up about who may be talking to who, planning what. You know, what is amazing about this to me is that before 9/11, we didn't connect the dots. On 9/12, the nation started cat calling, "Why didn't we connect the dots? They knew this and they knew that, but they weren't talking. Why didn't they know that?" Now, this is why I say, do we need a bird flu pandemic or another terrorist attack to get us back in focus here? All we are trying to do is connect the dots, or be able to connect the dots if and when another attack is planned so we can stop it.

Everybody is going nuts. Actually, everybody is not going nuts because the Washington Post has a story today, "A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it. A slightly larger majority--66 percent--said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made."

But Jane Hamsher picked up the subtext. And now we know it was pretty much for political reasons this wiretapping was done.

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