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View Diary: The Internet is "Humanity's Nervous System." But What if Humanity Isn't Human? (46 comments)

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  •  The NSA would be incredibly stupid to try (0+ / 0-)

    blackmailing an average citizen.  We have a lot less to lose, and we haven't been vetted by the political process for the kind of people they can deal with.  The one thing I credit the Bush regime with was having the sense to avoid that sort of bullshit, because Cheney et al knew that was the kind of thing that brought Nixon down.  I actually wished they had tried that shit, but they were infuriatingly intelligent when their interests were involved despite their stupidity/total indifference as to the national interest.  So the NSA is not about to try that shit under a President whose support for them is politically contingent.

    Firstly, you're just not going to have that many reasons to blackmail an average citizen if you're an NSA player.  Whatever reasons you might have would be personal, and personalizing that kind of power would make you a target in a close-knit institution.  The other people in it would feel like you're wasting their time and/or that you're involving them in things that will compromise them later.  That would undermine you.  Political animals instinctively understand this.  Doesn't mean it never happens, but it does put some limits on the potential.

    So, while I'm sure NSA supervisors don't give a flying fuck about the 4th Amendment, when they're chewed out because their people are spying on their girlfriends, they will roll that shit downhill to their subordinates.

    That doesn't sound very satisfying to we who want every institution of the government 100% on board with the Constitution, but it remains that case IMHO that the NSA is (a)fucked and (b)completely aware of the fact that they're fucked.  From here on, they can make a million politically wise decisions, and all it will take is that one asshole who flexes more muscle than he really has, and that blows right back on them.  Even if they fire his stupid ass immediately, they're damaged.  Forever.

    That's why I think 4th Amendment advocates need to be more abstract in their focus on government institutions - obsessing on the NSA specifically is just a recipe for easy mollification.  Gov people can just shift resources and ops to other TLAs.

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