The Lighter Side
"The Flying Wi-Fi" -- working out the bugs
By Bernard Weiner
Online Journal Guest Writer

Sep 14, 2006, 00:15

My Silicon Valley friend, one of the most innovative scientists in the country, the one who invented the truth-spray "B.S. Away,"* ushered me into his lab.

"This new invention is only in its trial phase," he said, eyes gleaming in excitement. "But if the current tests are any indication, this device will revolutionize spying, journalism, the whole concept of privacy, everything. I call it 'The Flying Wi-Fi'."

Since his expected patent hadn't come through yet, he swore me to secrecy for how this insect-drone worked. He needn't have bothered, as I couldn't follow his jargoned explanation of nano-technology anyway, but I can tell you this much: The Flying Wi-Fi is about the size of a small moth, it can stealthily hover or remain stationary almost silently in any location, and it's equipped with an ultra-sensitive wi-fi camera (with an amazing wide-angle lens) and microphone.

"Do you get it now?" he asked me. "Basically, with miniaturized, improved wireless technology components, it sends signals back to the computer base. The data can be viewed, listened to or transcribed into text. Want to see how it works?"

He didn't have to ask me twice. We stepped out into the garden, where he dispatched the Flying Wi-Fi to a house halfway down the block. It hovered outside a second-floor bedroom screen; back at our garden base, we were able to aim the camera and listen to a husband and wife arguing about how they should deal with their teenage daughter's affinity for smoking marijuana in the school bathroom.

I was amazed, but horrified at the same time. "There isn't any privacy anymore!" I shouted. "Even in your own bathroom or bedroom, someone can overhear what you're doing and talking about!"

"Bernie, don't be so naive. That kind of directional sound-collection technology has existed for decades; you see variations of it every week when TV covers professional football -- those guys on the sidelines with their primitive round sound-collectors aimed at the action. The difference here is that you get clear visuals, too, and you don't need a whole team of cops or spies or sound- and cameramen; you just send out your little Flying Wi-Fi drone and sit back at your computer base and everything comes to you, without anybody being the wiser."

"That's the part that scares me," I said. "Currently, at least you might be able to spot somebody across the street aiming a sound-collector toward your house. But with this little guy, it will be seen, if at all, as just the proverbial 'fly on the wall,' no need to worry."

"Well, I told you that this was going to revolutionize the concept of privacy," he said, "but don't forget that it will also totally alter the way journalists and bloggers gather information and dispense what they learn. The democratization, and instant dissemination, of information. Government officials better watch what they say."

Three days later, we were in Washington, D.C. (he paid for the airline tickets) for a more meaningful test run. What follows are snippets of conversations we overheard all over town by sending our Flying Wi-Fi into or close to private offices, departmental buildings, officials' homes and cars, and so on.


Unidentified Staffer: Oh you're good, Karl!

Rove: Yeah, this time I've got their nuts in the cracker. If the Dems vote to support Bushboy's military tribunals at Gitmo, we win. If the Demoncrats oppose the trials of those major al-Qaida prisoners, we just say they're supporting Osama bin Laden. It's a win-win for us; either way; it'll pay off at the polls in November. We can worry about what the courts say about our in-their-face approach much later, and, if we have to, keep making adjustments until the cows come home. Christ, we can probably play this out until after the 2008 vote!

We've still got a hell of a lot of work to do. True, we've got our dumbskull fundies; they're such True Believers they'd stick with us if photos appeared of Bush servicing a lonely sheep in the Oval Office. But our poll numbers with the rest of the folks who usually vote Republican are in the toilet. We're doing the fear number and denouncing those who oppose our war policies as terrorist-supporters -- hey, did you catch the Swift Boating version of 9/11 on ABC? Right on schedule! But so far, the numbers aren't going up fast enough. Either the public is on to us, or we just aren't frightening them enough. Seems like Americans move toward us only when they're scared out of their wits, as they were on 9/11. Hmmm. I wonder what might possibly happen this month or in October?

Might not even have to think about that. Our friends are active in so many states in making sure the voting rolls are purged of those who shouldn't be allowed to vote, if you get my drift. And the voting machines are as reliable as usual -- which translates into being very helpful for our side. So come November 8, we should be holding onto the House and the Senate. Not by much, but I don't care. One vote over 50 percent is all we need to continue on for another two years, full steam ahead. Those pinko suckers, as usual, will never know what hit them.


Cheney (talking into tape-recorder): Memo for my book project. Looks like I'm off the legal hook on the outing of Plame. Armitage fessed up that he was the one to leak to Novak. That loser doesn't even realize that we put the ball in motion with all our inquiries about Plame and Wilson, but if that Powell toady wants to take the hit, that's fine with me.

I'm still nervous about Fitzgerald, though. Many months ago, when zeroing in on Scooter, he said publicly that "multiple people in the White House" were involved in the Plame outing and covering it up. (Fitzgerald went on in his April 5 court filing: "Given that there is evidence that . . . White House officials . . . discussed Wilson's wife's employment with the press both prior to, and after, July 14, 2003, it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson." Bastard!)

I'm hoping Fitz has pulled in his horns for good -- maybe he finally got the message that his career was going to go nowhere if he persisted in poking his nose inside the White House -- but he has never officially closed down his probe. In my worst nightmares, I imagine him coming after me: After all, Karl and I orchestrated the rest of the White House Iraq Group to take Wilson down.

Oh well, we can handle it, assuming, of course, that Karl has the election in hand in November; he certainly should, since I and Rummy and Bushboy and others have been painting our Dem opponents into the terrorist-supporting traitor corner. But If we lose the House, Fitz and the shark-like forces behind him may smell our blood in the water and decide to reopen the investigation.

So, first things first: Destroy the Dems for November, by whatever means necessary, in order to keep the House and Senate; then we can come back at our enemies with newfound strength. If worse comes to worst later, we "reassign" Fitz and move in one of our guys to handle the situation. God, I love this job!


Bush: I tell you, Karl, you're gonna earn your money, OR NOT, as we reach November. I understand why you had me confirm that the CIA was indeed running secret interrogation camps abroad, where we could extract confessions from those high-level al-Qaida prisoners: My announcement was so we could box in the Democrats and announce some high-publicity terrorist trials prior to the elections, especially since we can't produce Osama bin Laden, dead or alive.

But I'm taking a big hit on that one -- first you had me denying we tortured, and now I'm talking about all the valuable info we got from guys we sent to the secret CIA interrogation centers where we tortured them. I feel like an idiot! And it gets worse. Now with the Senate Intelligence Committee report virtually saying we lied big time to get the country into Iraq, I'm radioactive out there. Goddamn it, our side controls that committee, and they issue that kind of damning report! Not even Pat Roberts could stop it. This is terrible!

No Republican running for re-election wants to be seen, or associated, with me. I raised lots of money for those ungrateful fuckers, and now they're behaving like they don't even know me. I'm toxic, I tell you. People boo me, make fun of me on TV, demonstrate wherever I go. Was fun when it was happening to Bubba during Lewinsky, but it's just vicious now.

Rove: Yeah, we're gonna have to take some big lumps for the next few months. But remember that it's all done to keep the House. The more races we can pull out for Republicans -- and our demonizing the Democrats as soft-on-terrorism may be starting to work -- the less I have to worry about those election-result numbers on Voting Day. That's risky business, you know. Luckily, before the Dems were aware of our plans, we had Denny Hastert swear in Bilbray, even though his San Diego victory numbers weren't officially certified in his home county. Might have been a bit outside the law, but one more vote for our side.

Bush: Your election strategy better pay off, Turd Blossom, or it's the crapper for all of us.


Stephen Cambone: Well, the Dems' attempt at getting you fired fizzled badly.

Rumsfeld: It was just political theater: They knew it wasn't going to happen. They still are pussies, too afraid to go frontally after Cheney and Bush, so I'm the designated punching bag. I can take it.

But unless things improve soon in Iraq, I may have to resign at some point before November. Damn those Iraqis! This was all supposed to come out different: We march in there, topple Saddam, they cheer and start working with us to reconstruct the country, install democracy and free markets, the rest of the Middle East follows Iraq's lead. Instead, those ungrateful Iraqi bastards start attacking us, and Iraqis across the board want us to leave so the level of violence will go down.

Cambone: Well, at least the pundits are not talking about torture and Abu Ghraib anymore, where, I remind you, both you and I are extremely vulnerable. At least, we've got Americans' anger directed onto Iraqis who are killing each other in 'sectarian strife' -- no 'civil war' admitted -- and on how the new Iraqi government is starting to take over control of their own security, with us 'helping' them a bit, of course.

Rumsfeld: Yes, torture's sorta off the table. But our big plans to remake the geopolitical map of the Middle East is in great jeopardy -- unless we can pull out something that we can spin as a sort-of victory in Iraq, so our military forces can be freed up for Iran.


Ken Mehlman (on phone): Look, I understand why your gay magazine wants me to talk about my sexual orientation, but you've got to understand that the political situation is really tenuous right now. Maybe I'll be in a position to speak more about this issue after the elections. But we have to keep a united front with religious conservatives and fundamentalists, at least up until election day in November. And even mentioning gays without a pejorative can rile them up and they might sit on their hands on Election Day.

No, I can't fix you up with Jeff. Goodbye.


Unidentified Staffer: Senator, I just don't see how it can be done.

McCain: I haven't quite got it figured out either. I can't run to the right of the Bushies, as those voters don't trust a Republican 'maverick.' And I can't run to the left of the moderates, since my strong pro-war, anti-abortion stands wouldn't stand that much scrutiny. So I guess I have to keep running somewhere in between those two, branding myself as a likeable, honest hard-liner but definitely independent and not as arrogant or lunatic as the crowd in power now. So that means bashing Bush on certain policies, but cuddling up to the fundamentalist base for support.

Staffer: That's a mighty dangerous high-wire act -- lots of heavy political wind up there.

McCain: You got it. But what am I going to do? I'm more than 70 years old, and this is my last shot. I've got to do the political zig-zag dance: step to the right to win the nomination, step to the center to win the election.

Staffer: You don't think Rove and the right-wingers won't shoot you down again as they did so viciously in South Carolina in 2000?

McCain: They might, in which case this time I'll take 'em on and go for their jugular. But I don't think they will. They want Republican rule to extend into perpetuity, so they can keep collecting all the power and money goodies. I can win the middle, and they know that. So I won't be exactly what they're looking for, but they can live with me in the White House, since they can continue making out like bandits with them in control of Congress and in wars abroad. It's a win-win, baby!

# # # # #

Those excerpts should indicate that my Flying Wi-Fi inventor-friend is quite correct. The word "bugging" is about to take on a whole new meaning. And a whole new career for scores of privacy attorneys joining the ACLU.

*For two articles about the fictitious "truth spray," follow this link.

Copyright 2006 Bernard Weiner

Bernard Weiner, a poet-playwright, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, has taught government & international relations at various universities, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers. For omment:

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