If you're watching everybody, you're watching nobody

John Gilmore's written a great post for Farber's Interesting People list analyzing the failings with the universal surveillance proposals of the current regime.

But even if they have a dozen systems that can read the lettering on a
basketball, they can't read the lettering on all the basketballs in
the world. Or even all the basketballs in Iraq, or Columbus, Ohio.

So what matters is having good judgment about what to look at. And
good judgment is where our intelligence bureacracy, and our current
political leadership, both have notoriously bad records. The spy
agencies didn't predict the end of the Cold War, didn't predict 9/11,
didn't predict the information revolution, are drowning in way too
much data with little understanding, and resisted the spread of the
encryption that barely protects our infrastructures today. Meanwhile
the President and his gang are destroying freedom at home, wasting
vast resources on third rate tinpot dictators, destabilizing
international law and long-standing peaceful alliances, and supporting
criminality and corruption and terrorism all over the world with
price supports on illegal drugs.

This government hasn't learned that if you're watching everybody,
you're watching nobody. Our society was much safer when it was run by
people who knew that if you spend 99% of your time investigating
innocent citizens who you have no reason to suspect, you're going to
have real trouble catching the people you have actual reasons to
suspect. Either these guys are stupid, or they really are trying to
build a police state. My friends in government try to convince me
that incompetence is far more common than malevolence — but they
forget that positions of power attract such people.