SECURITY VS. PARANOIA

Once again the denizens of both left-wing and right-wing looney-tunesville have teamed up in an unholy alliance that has resulted in a mindless chorus of howls of protest. This time the kerfuffle seems to be over the National Security Agency’s ability to listen in on phone calls or intercept e-mails or texts sent my both Americans and foreigners, in an attempt to uncover terrorist plots. The left sees black helicopters swooping overhead ready to discharge deadly missiles upon their residences, while the right sees tanks rolling down their streets ready to confiscate their guns and ship their asses off to concentration camps. Or is it the other way around. Hard to keep up with the latest thinking projections coming out of looney-tunesville. But first a little background.

The Department of Defense has several intelligence agencies which include (but are not limited to) the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and separate Army, Navy and Air Force intelligence agencies. There is of course also the CIA, which is technically not part of Defense, although it gets its funding from DOD. By far, the largest of these intelligence agencies is NSA, which is housed in a building the size of a squared city block, in the Maryland suburbs of Washington,D.C. NSA has recently built a second facility, about the same size, out West, in Utah or Idaho, I believe. Most of NSA’s data gathering is accomplished through electronic eavesdropping, although a smaller portion is obtained through human resources, or HUMINT, as the NSAers would say. The latest computer technology allows NSA to gather massive amounts of intelligence sent via electronic means, and then process all this data through its enormous computer capability. The idea is to uncover bits of communications that might disclose a terrorist plot in the making, or imminent terror actions about to be undertaken. NSA has always done this. The only difference these days is that technological advances have enabled NSA to accomplish this on a much larger scale.

Many years ago, when I worked for the Pentagon, I was among the first group of DOD auditors that were given special intelligence security clearances, and told to go audit the DOD intelligence community. This included NSA, DIA, and the Service intelligence agencies, all of whom were used to getting rubber-stamped approval for all their budget requests, with no one looking over their shoulders to see how the money was being spent. As can be expected in such situations, we uncovered massive amounts of wasteful spending, useless acquisitions, and unnecessary duplication. The amounts of waste we reported on ran into the billions. (That’s when billions were still considered significant. Now, “it don’t mean a thing” unless you’re talking trillions.) What we DID NOT find, however, was a single instance of where any of the intelligence agencies were abusing the rights and privileges of any American citizens, or anyone else for that matter.

One must keep in mind that there are a considerable number of some very nasty people all over the world that are plotting, every minute of every day, to do serious harm to the U.S. and its allies. This includes getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction that, when used by terrorists, could result in casualties numbering in the tens or hundreds of thousands of lives, if not more. If all the NSA or other intelligence agencies snooping can prevent just one of these events, all the money and effort that went into uncovering such a plot would be well worth it. I feel certain that such intelligence efforts have prevented these types of plots from occurring in actuality. Unfortunately, security concerns prevent their public disclosure.

Thus, if NSA electronic eavesdropping comes across certain texts between Fred Waternobby and his wife, in Ames Iowa, I fail to see where any harm is done. Fred may have texted his wife, one Friday, that instead of coming straight home from work, he’s going out for a couple of beers with the boys. Which is fine with Mrs. Waternobby, because she has to take their daughter to her soccer game anyway. Which is only fair, because Fred had to previously endure their son’s little league baseball game. Can you imagine if, instead of computers processing this data, some poor intelligence analyst to to read through all this rubbish every day. Guaranteed, he’d but a bullet in his brain before the first day was over. It’s all but certain that 99.9% of all communications processed by NSA are of a similar nature. But that one-tenth of one-percent that NSA may be lucky enough to pick up on, could dramatically save lives and prevent devastation.

Nevertheless, as I’ve said, such considerations never seem to enter brain cells of right-wing tea partyers, or left-wing ACLU lawyers. After all, one must never violate the purity of people’s individual rights. No matter that they have been violated out of necessity, almost from the time the Constitution was put to paper. Of course, in the case of the right-wing whackos, it’s just another pretext to bash Obama. Had this been occurring under a Republican president, as it had under George W. Bush, there would be much less objection, if any at all. Thus, the tea-party thinking is that lets pile this NSA surveillance “scandal” on to all the other issues being used to attack the Obama administration. What’s more important- keeping us safe or getting revenge against Obama for winning the election. On the other hand, the far left will never come out of their delusional ivory tower concerning the purity of civil rights. Even if it means enduring another 9/11 or Boston marathon terrorist attack. Even though NSA is merely doing what they’ve always been doing, only on a more massive scale due to enhanced technology.

All of this further illustrates that the far right and far left, are, in the end, blood brothers. Their common genetic inheritance is living in a continual state of delusion, from which they can never emerge.

 

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