In this week’s edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Ben, Bob, and Chez discuss the latest NSA revelation, the Sydney Leathers sex tape and our desert island albums!
1. The New York Times is reporting that the NSA is sifting through e-mails from Americans into and out of the country, looking for people who mention foreigners under surveillance. Not just collecting meta-data but actually reading the communications. Most of you have defended the NSA spying program over and over again. Any chance this new revelation will make you take any of it back?
Ben: Steve, I haven’t defended the NSA spying program. In fact, I’ve said on numerous occasions that it’s very clear they have far too much access to people’s data and is in dire need of oversight. I’m with Bob on Greenwald/the Guardian’s reporting on the whole thing, and I’m bored to tears by the relentless screeching from the civil libertarian left, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a problem. As for the new revelations discovered by the New York Times, yes, I’m obviously concerned. To tell the truth, civil liberties issues/spying etc etc are not top of my reading list in the mornings so I don’t really have an absolute position on it. It’s worrying and I should probably read more on it. But I probably won’t.
Chez: I’ve been out of the loop a lot over the past few days so I’d have to take a closer look at it. My argument has never been that the NSA doesn’t spy and that it’s not casting a pretty wide a net, so I’m not exactly surprised. I admit that I understand what America’s intelligence agencies are there to do, though, so I’m not indignant over the notion that we’re losing some privacy in the name of security and, to be honest, I don’t have a huge problem with it in theory. But I would like to know as many of the facts as possible before I make a decision as to what I think of this latest story. I’ll say flat out that I trust the Times’s reporting far more than Greenwald’s. At least there’s that.
Bob: First of all, no, NSA isn’t “reading the communications.” The NYT article specifically says NSA searches for very specific “selectors” or keywords. Charlie Savage wrote, “The official said the keyword and other terms were “very precise” to minimize the number of innocent American communications that were flagged by the program.” All other emails not flagged are deleted, according to Savage. On top of that, all of the U.S. Person emails are anonymized. Yet again, instead of talking about the operation itself, we’re forced to correct misconceptions about the reporting. All of that aside, no, I’m still not alarmed nor surprised. Private corporations have far more intimate details about us.
2. Would you consider having an official Daily Banter viewing party for the Sydney Leathers sex tape?
Chez: Yes. You know that scene in “Auto-Focus” where Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe are sitting on opposite ends of the couch watching porn and they very creepily begin jerking off? Yeah, it’d probably be like that. Or it’d just be a lot of drinking and making fun of the “Jersey Shore” reject.
Bob: Sure, as long as it doesn’t include a selfie of Weiner looking more gaunt than the weird sister from Pet Sematary.
Ben: Yes. We could even live stream the viewing and charge for it. Not sure Bob would approve though…
3. Five desert island albums. Go!
The Flaming Lips – “The Soft Bulletin”
Rush – “Presto”
The Tragically Hip – “Phantom Power”
Genesis – “And Then There Were Three…”
U2 – “Achtung Baby”
John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,”
Radiohead’s “OK Computer,”
Jeff Buckley’s “Grace,”
The Stones’ “Beggars Banquet,”
Zero 7’s “Simple Things”
1. ‘Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix’
2. Coldplay ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’
3. Sigur Ros ‘Takk….’
4. Cypress Hill ‘Temples of Boom’,
5. The Wailers ‘Burnin”