Obama Knows Your Canadian Secrets

If I hear him right, it's not just American data collected. Imagine what he knows!

By Steve Burgess 14 Jun 2013 |

Steve Burgess now writes about politics and culture and Hi, Obama for The Tyee.

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Cartoon by DonkeyHotey.

President Obama is reading your email. Too bad for President Obama but to each his own, I guess. I certainly wouldn't want that job.

The Guardian newspaper recently reported the revelations of Edward Snowden, an employee of a U.S. government security contractor, concerning the scope of official U.S. spying. The American government, it seems, has been casting a wide net in its search for evildoers, including accessing the databases of Internet companies like Google, Apple, and Verizon, as well as phone records. The public reaction could not have been stronger had kittens begun demanding YouTube royalties.

Politically, the unanimous outrage has been heartwarming -- or possibly disturbing. According to the Book of Revelations, when Al Gore and Senator Rand Paul agree on an issue the End Times are near. Scientists say that having the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tea Party on the same side of any question may reverse the polarity of the Earth's magnetic field and make cows lactose intolerant. The government surveillance scandal has brought Marxists together with people who believe the U.S. Constitution forbids racial minorities from access to paved streets.

As for me, I just can't get past how tedious the job would be. Reading the world's email must be the modern equivalent of those punishments meted out in Greek mythology, like having an eagle perpetually eat your liver. The god Kronos devoured his children -- bad parenting for sure, but if you had to spend hours each day scrolling through reams of LOLs and OMGs and Crystal totally hitting on Samantha's bf, you might begin to sympathize.


At a recent press conference in San Jose, President Obama sought to assure Americans that their privacy is not being unduly infringed. "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," the president said, before pointing out that the U.S. government's access to Internet data did not involve Americans or people living in the United States. Apparently it's just people in other countries. That would be us.

This means the Americans are probably in possession of a great many Canadian secrets. Unburdened by the political and legal obligations they owe to American citizens, they are free to gobble up our data willy-nilly. Imagine what they must know. And in light of that, I issue this ringing declaration to the President: Mr. Obama -- release the Rob Ford crack video!

Although it is not a life-or-death matter, I would also like to know the ongoing status of the Roberto Luongo trade situation. If the CIA and FBI could keep us abreast on the latest offers, we would be able to converse much more knowledgeably on sports call-in shows. And if the U.S. intelligence community wouldn't mind, they could also greatly simplify the process of comparing Mike Duffy's movements to his expense claims.

Spying eliminates crap

People are concerned about undue government snooping. But some surveillance is necessary and beneficial for society as a whole. That point has been made most forcefully by the Spanish town of Brunete, a small suburb of Madrid. Civic officials there initiated a program in which old-school spy techniques are used to actually mail dog poop back to the jerks who left it behind. It's a true story of espionage that makes Ian Fleming novels look plausible.

The city recruited 20 James Bonds to patrol the streets incognito. When they spot a bowel-moving violation, they approach the dog owner and strike up a casual conversation about that cute pooch, asking the animal's name and pedigree. Armed with that info, they look up the owner's address in the town's doggie database (more evidence that dog licensing puts us on the slippery slope to tyranny). The dog crap is then boxed up and delivered to the owner's home. (Presumably the postal union has issues with this tactic that have nothing to do with privacy.)

Government snooping is a hot button issue -- I get that. But if I must give up a bit of of my liberty so that others can have their dog crap sent back to them by parcel post -- maybe even on their birthdays -- then count me among the willing.

As for Edward Snowden, he is certainly courageous. However if I may lodge a complaint, releasing the transcript of my private phone conversation concerning Aunt Bernice's unfortunate salmon loaf was uncalled for. Let's focus on other forms of domestic terrorism, shall we?  [Tyee]

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