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View Diary: A Very Modest Proposal for the Benign N.S.A. (13 comments)

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  •  I can't debate philosophy (3+ / 0-)
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    The Geogre, northsylvania, stevemb

    I don't have the intellectual tools.

    I am, however, a former NSA operative.  I can tell you this.  The NSA has always, or at least since the 70s, had the capability for vast, intrusive reach into the private affairs of Americans.  There was only one barrier:  a cultural one, a consensus that such intervention was inappropriate  to the health of a democratic society.  That it was the behavior of exactly those global forces we were locked in twilight struggle against.  We voluntarily engaged in practices to secure the personal communications of Americans against our own capabilities.  When our spy craft engaging in training missions ended up with recordings of the communications of American citizens, those electronic media were immediately scrubbed, or "degaussed".

    This culture has now been foresworn, by bipartisan order and practice from on high.  In the words of Neil Young, "Once it's gone, it won't come back, when you're out of the blue and into the black."  And that's where we stand today.  We are incapable of restoring the status quo ante.  We have in absolute certainty condemned ourselves to a future that is at best Kafkaesque, if not downright Orwellian.  Our best hope lies in global warming sweeping everything about us away in a slow-motion apocalypse.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 08:19:33 AM PST

    •  Once we say yes... (2+ / 0-)
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      northsylvania, stevemb

      I share your sense of doom. I knew that NSA, either for fear of Congress or just good sense, had been nearly paranoid about not crossing the bright line, about never crossing into domestic space. I have read numerous accounts of the events around 9/11, and no one faults, to my knowledge, NSA's refusals. They have faulted NSA not talking to FBI, but they're wrong.

      The message that Bush Co. took from that was to erase the lines. The packet data, so far as I can understand it, seems to have been the magic bullet. Once NSA can say that Internet and telecommunications packets transmit through the U.S. to the rest of the world and contain communications from international "bad" people, and therefore it is legal to open the packets, the whole packet becomes NSA material.

      I'm willing to believe that there are elaborate computer programs to filter out domestic information. I'm willing to believe that there are staggering arrays of programs to strip metadata and identifiers of U.S. citizens not already highlighted. I'm willing to believe all of this. . . for N.S.A. What, though, about the private contractors?

      Who and what assures us? The good will of the president alone? Three members of the senate, and then if they really are briefed fully, when evidence indicates that they have not been in the past?

      Bertolt Brecht has a play where a girl sings about 'reputation.' Once it's stained, you can never make it white again. There are no second chances at innocence.

      I don't really think 9/11 justifies Mount Doom.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 09:01:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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