Saturday, August 24, 2013

“This is getting more and more out of control the more we find out about it.”

The title of this post is a quote from Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, who was weighing in on the NSA and its spying on American citizens. We now know that the NSA’s spy programs covered 75 percent of all domestic internet traffic, and included a special program that targeted love interests—a program the NSA cutely dubbed LOVEINT, for “love intelligence.”

So much for the NSA director of compliance and his claim that there were no willful violations of the Constitution or even of NSA policy. The NSA now concedes that there were, but has shifted gears and now assures us that the willful violations were minimal—only “a couple” in total—and the offending government agents have been dealt with through appropriate administrative action.  (I feel much better.)

The obvious problem here is the gross violation of the constitution, and even of NSA policy—a policy that was written by the government and for the government, yet the government still can’t comply with it. And the impact on us isn’t just a chipping away of theoretical rights; rather, government lawbreaking has many negative, practical consequences.

But the less obvious problem is that by casting such a broad and illegal net, the government is doing a far less effective job in its “war on terror.” Instead of making outrageous power grabs at the expense of our individual rights—a problem with governments at all levels, especially when they can invoke the word “terror”—the government needs to keep its eye on the prize and focus its efforts on acquiring useful data. Otherwise, while the bureaucrats are busy analyzing 75 percent of all domestic internet traffic and dreaming up cute code names for their illegal spy operations, they’re going to miss the next terrorist who signs up for flight school asking to learn to “control the aircraft in flight,” but refusing to learn the art of takeoffs or landings.

Anyway, if we know one thing for sure, it’s that governments lie and then they lie about the lies. And I can’t wait to see what NSA lies and cover-ups will be exposed next. At some point, if the lies get deep enough, Obama might want to thank Edward Snowden and offer him a preemptive pardon.

1 comment:

  1. The more I find out about this, the more I see 1984 happening. Perpetual war and the gov't watching our every moves.