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So someone went through the trouble of writing an OpEd, getting it through the NSA public release rubric, and finding a technical publication (ZDNet) to publish it.

I thought some here may appreciate the view from inside the NSA about what really goes on everyday, as opposed to the conjecture and sensationalization that gets published every day.

And I know that many around here will just cry "shill" and pooh-pooh the idea that NSA employees are actually thinking, caring, patriotic individuals.

Please visit the link:

Roger Barkan, NSA, OpEd via David Gerwitz at ZDNet

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Comment Preferences

  •  ... (6+ / 0-)

    The hearing of all sides is indeed important.

    Atheistic Determinist and Contemplative Contrarian.

    by ShockandAwed on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 01:51:04 PM PDT

  •  "We're not watching you. We're the ones being (18+ / 0-)

    watched."

    Really?

    This guy is totally dismissive of our concerns.  Look, nobody doubts you're Americans etc. etc.  That's hardly the point.

  •  Not a shill but possibly propaganda (12+ / 0-)

    He's not hiding who he's associated with but this OpEd was surely vetted by government officials first.  It isn't saying anything they don't want said.

  •   Wow, flaming bullshit served on a silver platter (12+ / 0-)
    We're not watching you. We're the ones being watched.
    Yeah, I see ya there. Howya doin'?  

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

    by Tank Mountaine on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:05:00 PM PDT

    •  I'll go one further (7+ / 0-)

      Nowhere in this entire opus is there one word about any lag time between unauthorized snooping at the NSA and the immediate and forthright response.

      After all, I'm sure many of the appropriate pants were shat once Edward Snowden made his disclosures, but for some reason I am still not reassured that the "several layers of checks and redundancy to ensure that data are not accessed by analysts outside of approved and monitored channels" is all that effective.

      Sure, they were lying to us for years until Snowden came along, but now they're all transparent and above-board! Why are you people so suspicious?

      •  Have you read the disclosures? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too, lgmcp, mickT

        They paint a pretty clear picture of when the most egregious problems were discovered, reported, and remedied.

        You'll not that those fixes coincide with the beginning of the Obama administration.

        •  I read the article (8+ / 0-)

          And while Mr. Barkan is emphatic in his belief that nothing untoward is happening at NSA, events independent of his belief indicate otherwise.

          Also, as to when the most egregious problems were remedied, Mr. Barkan is also quite definite in saying that they are addressed immediately after they're discovered. But there is no indication whatsoever in his dispatch what amount of time might elapse between when one of our faultless NSA operatives might stray outside the lines and when that operative's superiors might detect that straying. Is it mere minutes? A couple of days? Months? Years? Mr. Barkan doesn't volunteer that information.

          He also disingenuously - in my opinion - observes that "the NSA conducts its work with an uncompromising respect for the rules -- the laws, executive orders, and judicial orders under which we operate" without mentioning that the NSA operates under a peculiar set of laws, executive orders and judicial orders that aren't subject to any of the usual review or even notification to the parties affected by those laws and orders.

          I may be incorrigible on this, because I don't think an American who respects the Constitution would participate in this scheme. And while the administration has been quite vocal in telling the American people that they were just about ready to start having this conversation about national security and data mining, I remain skeptical of the timing vis-a-vis Edward Snowden.

          •  So you believe that the Administration, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mickT

            Congress, the Courts and all individuals working in the Intelligence Community don't respect the Constitution? Got it.

            •  Perhaps you do "got it" (0+ / 0-)

              Because we used to be - at least publicly - against secret court systems, indefinite detention without charge or counsel, and the other offenses against the Constitution that are only now being acknowledged. Yes, there are quite a number of governmental folks participating in these unconstitutional activities. I can't say how they justify such to themselves, perhaps they think they're "just doing their job" or "just following orders," but a lot of people have been jailed, fought, bled, killed and died opposing just such totalitarianism.

              You may feel otherwise, but I have yet to see a credible defense of our government's betrayal of its citizens and laws.

        •  Survey Says: ***BZZZZZTTTT!!!*** (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Johnny Q, svboston, quill, greengemini

          The fiction:

          those fixes coincide with the beginning of the Obama administration
          The reality:

          WaPo: Obama had NSA limits reversed

          On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

          by stevemb on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 05:20:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope, you are incorrect. (0+ / 0-)

            The Obama admin put in place the restrictions that it asked the court to relax. That is not at all the story of the Bush administration where they made up rules, didn't tell the court what it was doing, didn't tell Congress what it was doing.

            Compare to working with the Courts to figure what is permissible under the law. Asking for, and receiving, a change in an order is not an abuse.

            •  Wrong Again (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              greengemini
              The Obama admin put in place the restrictions that it asked the court to relax.
              Nope. From the link (which you really ought to try reading before putting your foot in it again):
              What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.

              (Does this site support blink tags? I really don't think bold and italic are going to be enough to penetrate....)

              On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

              by stevemb on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 03:26:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  The weasel word being 'approved' (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stevemb, kurt, greengemini

        I assume workers follow their instructions, like any other workplace, and if a superior is corrupt they can 'approve' corrupt uses. And who would know below in the chain that the 'suspect' is instead merely an activist or someone with important business info?


        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 04:42:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The ones who are caring, patriotic individuals (16+ / 0-)

    will one day join the ranks of Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden, if they haven't already.

    Poor guys (and maybe gals). It must be hateful to have joined an institution in good faith, thinking you were being a good patriot, and then discovering that you had unwittingly entered Dol Guldur.

    Here's an NSA guy who is a caring patriot:

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:07:02 PM PDT

  •  Straw Man (12+ / 0-)

    I don't see anyone on DKos saying that the millions of people in the official secrecy biz in the US aren't human.

    In fact, we're upset that they're all too human. Humans make mistakes, and also purposely do wrong. Humans do bad things to other humans when they're immune to consequences and they benefit, such as earning a living from it.

    This diary is a straw man, sucking down the NSA PR like its life (or the diarist's income) depended on it.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:08:03 PM PDT

  •  Funny they have a disclaimer saying that this (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb, Johnny Q, Kevskos, greengemini, lysias

    person's opinions aren't necessarily that of the NSA but nowhere does it address whether these words had to be approved by the powers that be in the NSA before they were sent in for publication.

  •  And Once Again Upton Sinclair Is Proven Right (14+ / 0-)
    It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:15:14 PM PDT

  •  Rush Limbaugh is an American too. n/t (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, stevemb, Kevskos, Johnny Q
  •  Excellent read... (0+ / 0-)

    ... thanks for the link.

    Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

    by Hey338Too on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:27:24 PM PDT

  •  ZD Net's disclaimer (13+ / 0-)
    An NSA mathematician, seeking to help shape the ongoing debate about the agency's foreign surveillance activities, has contributed this column to ZDNet Government. The author, Roger Barkan, also appeared in last year's National Geographic Channel special about the National Security Agency.
    Sounds like a analyst that PR regularly uses.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:50:17 PM PDT

  •  we're angry that the NSA has our data period (10+ / 0-)

    Yes, we really are that petty.

    How the NSA got our data, why they wanted it, what they have to prove to look at it with human eyes, and what they do or don't do afterwards are all completely irrelevant to the average American.

    No, being a "fellow American" changes nothing.  If these guys think it does, then they're even more clueless than I thought.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 04:19:43 PM PDT

    •  I doubt if I can change your mind (0+ / 0-)

      But the author is thinking in math.

      The massive data stored is all in 1s and 0s. Your data, if it even exists, is just 1s and 0s. It would only be if someone was doing research and specifically looked you up, would those 1s and 0s actually represent you.

      So in that regard, as a math geek, he doesn't give a damn about the 1s and 0s of people in massive database that aren't a threat. It is not a file on you.

      This data is not saved the same way credit companies, insurance companies, ad companies, etc gather information on you and use it to gain data on you.

      I'm not saying you shouldn't be pissed. That it is right or wrong. But just providing a perspective.

      Frankly, I hate that corporations know so much about. THAT scares the shit out of me.

  •  He also (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyesoars, kurt, stevemb, greengemini, lysias

    writes as if he knows what every one is doing at the NSA.  I accept and expect that almost all of the employees are trying to do the right thing, it only takes a few to misuse and/or pass the information on to other agencies.  Why would they want the common math wonk to really know how the intelligence is used.  The more people that know the harder to keep a secret.

    "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

    by Kevskos on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 04:21:52 PM PDT

    •  Exactly... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, kurt, stevemb, greengemini, lysias

      Nor is he likely to be privy to the full extent of the various organizations and projects within NSA. There are hundreds, and no doubt many of them are 'need to know'.

      My suspicion about what mathematicians there would need to know about operations put me strongly in the skeptics camp regarding the idea that he is fully informed about the NSA's activities.

      He might well know nothing... deliberately so, so he could write this thing in good conscience. But the government would never do anything like that, would it? I'm sure even our spy agencies, much less our law enforcement agencies, would never stoop so low. < /snark >

  •  Information disseminated by anyone from the (9+ / 0-)

    NSA has identically zero information value -- apart from whatever information might be imparted from the fact of the communication happening at all.

    I don't know anything about this dude, other than that he claims to work for an organization part of whose essential mission is to lie and deceive. He may be sincere, but there is no way to tell, and given this simple fact, he should be ignored.

    That is the price he paid for accepting the job. He has, by definition, no credibility, ever, about anything.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 04:31:13 PM PDT

    •  Excellent point. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q, kurt, stevemb, greengemini

      It reminds me a bit of one of those SAT problems about person X who always lies and person Y who cannot lie and according to their various statements what do we know about person Z.  

      But supposing, for a hypothetical purposes, that his statements were made in all sincerity and were even an accurate reflection of his work environment.  Would we STILL have concerns?  I would, per my "keys to the castle" remarks below.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 05:04:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I certainly have problems with his rhetorical (10+ / 0-)

        approach. "We're Americans too". So what? The cops stopping and frisking black guys in NYC are Americans too. Pepper Spray guy is an American too.

        Tea Party pinheads marching to advocate having the government slash their social security and medicare, while carrying signs demanding that the government keep its hands off their Medicare are Americans too.

        Dick Cheney is an American too.

        So what's the guy's point, exactly? That just because he's an American, he wouldn't do anything that's bad for America? Authoritarians are always "patriots". The average-joe authoritarians just don't have sufficient consciousness of their position in society to understand that they will eventually be the victims of that which they advocate.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 06:35:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I saw that a throwaway line (0+ / 0-)

          with the real claim being that detailed oversight exists to effectively detect or prevent improper data utlization.  

          Unfortunately the little we are able to learn of these secret programs have the OPPOSITE effect of convincing  us that any such level of effectiveness could possibly exist.  

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 02:09:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I have a young friend just starting college (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyesoars, kurt, greengemini, lysias

    who is a computer whiz and just won an enormous scholarship from the NSA.  They will pay his way through our state college with lots of time in residence at some special spook campus.  His family though good liberals are thrilled because of the accelerated career he now looks forward to.  They would like this article, and I certainly read it with him in mind.

    But when you give a lot of people the keys to the castle, it doesn't really matter how restrictive your policies are about appropriate use of those keys.  And it doesn't really matter how honorable MOST of the keyholders might be.  There WILL be a few bad apples.  To have all the data on everyone, and NOT look up who your ex is dating now?  It ain't human nature.  And I don't believe for a minute that oversight is stringent enough to uncover every instance of inappropriate usage.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 04:36:41 PM PDT

  •  J. Edgar Hoover was American too (8+ / 0-)

    Doesn't excuse his snooping either.

    You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

    by Johnny Q on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 06:49:32 PM PDT

  •  Pulling a Goodwin here, Sorry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb, PhilK

    Sorry to bring up the "N word" cough*Nazi*cough so quickly, but I've just been wondering... Do you really think those Nazis woke up every morning saying, "Oh, I'm such a bad, bad guy. I kill people, commit atrocities. I even kick puppies. But the US needs a boogeyman. Also, who's going to be installed as the bad guys in all those future video games?"

    Do you really think they thought that way? Of course not. They look at themselves in the mirror and see a patriot, who has to do some rough stuff, who has the guts to handle the rough stuff, unlike those sissies who call themselves Good Germans (tm).

    Oh, and by the way, their excuse was "We were only doing our jobs." That didn't work in Nuremberg, and it doesn't now.

    Again, I apologize for the "N" reference.

  •  If the intercepts are used for political purposes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb

    that would be highly compartmentalized, and only made accessible to a limited number of people at NSA.  The other people at NSA would have no idea that that was going on.

    When I was in military signals intelligence, there was all sorts of stuff that I had no access to.  

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 07:31:20 AM PDT

    •  True (0+ / 0-)

      No doubt, there are some people within NSA who spend their entire careers doing the legitimate work of monitoring violent enemies and hardening US defenses against foreign espionage. That doesn't change the fact that the NSA as an organization needs somebody to run a river through their stable full of bullshit.

      On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

      by stevemb on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 09:25:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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