By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 12/4/2020
Posted: 5/17/2006
Topics/Keywords: #CivilRights #Humor #Politics Page Views: 3435
Presumably, the millions of Americans who've called 1-900-BIG-BOOB and 1-900-ASS-LICK have shrugged in only mild discomfiture, knowing that if they get into trouble for this, so will most of the Republican party.
Big Brother Is Watching You

So now that we know the NSA is building the "world's largest database" of all our phone calls—from all time, according to the source who leaked the story to USA Today (presumably not over the phone)—many of us are mentally reviewing every phone call we've ever made, wondering if one of them will eventually come back to haunt us.

Presumably, the millions of Americans who've called 1-900-BIG-BOOB and 1-900-ASS-LICK have shrugged in only mild discomfiture, knowing that if they get into trouble for this, so will most of the Republican party. "Duke" Cunningham alone kept those hotlines in business. The callers of 1-900-KID-PORN are a little more concerned, knowing that Brian J. Doyle, the fourth-ranking spokesman of Homeland Security, was arrested in April for much the same thing.

Yet we've been told that, using NSA information obtained without FISA warrants, the FBI had, as of this date, already made over a thousand investigations of people who turned out not to be terrorists. Presumably, the NSA is using computers to electronically "listen" to the recorded calls looking for "key words" that mark the call for further analysis. Here's a sample list of key words:

  • abduct
  • blow up
  • bomb
  • bush
  • congress
  • destroy
  • detonate
  • explode
  • government
  • Iraq
  • kidnap
  • kill
  • overthrow
  • president
  • senate
  • terrorist

The problem is that voice recognition software is still in its infancy, and there are a lot of false hits. For example, here's the NSA transcript of a call I made a few years ago to my sister:

Phone 1: 623-555-2709 (Peoria, AZ)

Phone 2: 904-555-2272 (St. Augustine, FL)

Time: 16:52:22

Voice 1: Hey, Lou! How's it goin'?

Voice 2: Paul! I'm glad you called. What's new?

Voice 1: Well, I've started a new book. I'm writing this one with a friend.

Voice 2: Really? Who?

Voice 1: His name is Jock. He's an old-type resident of Sun City. Well, not that old, but older than me.

Voice 2: Will it be hard to write with someone else? A lot of friendships have been destroyed by people who work too closely together.

Voice 1: I don't think it'll be a problem in this case. We both feel the same way about the government, which is basically what it's about. —What's that noise?

Voice 2: Little Zachary is here and it's time for the kid to nap. He's getting cranky. If he asks me to play one more video game I'm going to explode!

Voice 1: No, not that noise. That creaky sound.

Voice 2: Oh, you mean the air conditioning. I think abduct in the ceiling has gotten some dirt in it. Mikey will have to get the compressed air and blow up in there.

Voice 1: How's the new puppy?

Voice 2: He is the cutest thing. We named him Deton, after the name of the street we found him on.

Voice 1: He must be growing.

Voice 2: He's a total pig. Yesterday, Deton ate three pancakes in the time it took me to eat one!

Voice 1: You feed your dog pancakes?

Voice 2: Not intentionally, but I had Iraq of them and three fell off while I was carrying it to the table.

Voice 1: Sounds messy.

Voice 2: It was. I had to terrorist paper towels to clean up the syrup before he got that, too.

Voice 1: Well, I want to see pictures. Just scan 'em and senate my email address.

Voice 2: Hey, I finally rented Eyes Wide Shut. What a bomb! Have you seen it?

Voice 1: Not yet. Seriously, do they show Tom and Nicole in, shall we say, sexual congress? Right on screen?

Voice 2: More or less. But they have as much chemistry as a bush. I'm surprise it didn't kill their careers.

Voice 1: Was that little Zach again?

Voice 2: Yes. I'm going to have to put him down. We'll talk again soon, all right?

Voice 1: Sure thing, as long as no one overthrows the phone company.

Statistics show that something like 60% of Republicans think that this database is a good thing. And, actually, it might turn out to be. Remember, now that it's known that this database exists, if a crime has been committed I don't see why the recordings of the suspect's phone calls can't be subpoenaed from the database by number and date. For example, here's an interesting recording from 1981—

Phone 1: 202-555-6660 (Washington, DC)

Phone 2: 202-555-7115 (Washington, DC)

Time: 30 March 1981 09:11:01

Voice 1: Hinckley Residence.

Voice 2: Yeah, can you put Scott on?

Voice 1: Who may I say is calling?

Voice 2: Just tell him, 'Neil.'

Voice 1: Certainly, Mr. Bush. One moment, please.

Voice 2: Smart ass.

Voice 3: Hello?

Voice 2: Hey Scott. What do you think?

Voice 3: I think he's gonna do it. Man he is so over the wall over that Jodie Foster chick. I found a poem he wrote her just yesterday.

Voice 2: Does he have the gun?

Voice 3: Yeah. I convinced him that Jodie would be really impressed if he shot—

Voice 2: Watch your mouth, man! My dad says the old man has ears everywhere.

Voice 3: Yeah, well, you know. Anyway, John's a pretty good shot. And if he hits his target, your dad will be running things anyway, so what's the problem?

Voice 2: No problem. I just want to make sure this goes down smooth as goose shit sliding off a tin roof. That old man is senile-pated, you know that?

Voice 3: Sure, everyone knows that. That's why my father contributed so much to your father's campaign. I just want to be sure none of this comes back to us, you know?

Voice 2: Taken care of. Daddy's friend Karl's got witnesses ready to describe John as a witless drifter and the media will do anything Daddy tells them to do once he's the decider.

Voice 3: Well, it's gonna work.

Voice 2: Hey, you got that invitation to my April Fool's party, right?

Voice 3: Yeah. John got his, too. Hey, you don't think that could cause a problem, do you?

Voice 2: An invitation? No way! If he hits his mark, we'll have plenty to celebrate. And if he chickens out, well, hell, he's still your brother. Hey, tell him Jodie will be there!

Voice 3: Okay. See you tomorrow.

Yes, I think the possibilities presented by this massive phone call database are fascinating.

Of course, it's still a lot easier to monitor Internet communications than phone calls. For example, the Bush family would no doubt find this essay to be "seditious" (meaning, unflattering to them). And it's no secret who owns this web site. (Excuse me, a black car has pulled up in front and the doorbell just rang. I'll be back in uh—