The NSA and Modern Conspiracy Theories
The good news is that, despite that ominous, sinking feeling, you are not paranoid; the bad news is that the National Security Agency really does collect all data ever created by your electronic signatures in life.
This “vacuuming” (for your own protection) does include: Any credit card or banking transaction you have ever performed. Any record ever produced about you that was ever digitized for storage or communicated over the Internet (your medical records and real estate transactions, loans and hotel reservations, for instance), your airplane reservations, electronic notes you listed as reminders on your iPhone, any phone call you have made in the last five years (or more), any E-mail, prescription, diagnostic test, criminal record, traffic ticket, text you have ever made,…..well, you get it now.
As if this was not enough potential to accidently get you into trouble – by the pure laws of large numbers of data sets in play – anyone in your “cluster” that has ever gotten into any kind of trouble or even come under suspicion will automatically create more data that can be traced back to YOU......at any time someone wishes to make a case against you.
Or wishes to “create one.”
Did you ever receive a “wrong call” from somebody on a terrorist watch list? Ever make a purchase from a store owned by the operator of a money laundering operation? Ever eat Chinese cuisine at a front operation for the Xinhua News Agency?
Ever buy a book written by a known radical (who may also be a literary genius)? Ever buy fertilizer for your farm or garden? Do you prepare wholesome foods with the aid of a pressure cooker?
People, the long tentacles of our own security services, as data collectors, is almost unlimited in scope and capacity. AND then we spend a fortune buying additional data from our strategic partners to add to that. We spend millions supplementing our cache of information on the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, and on and on.
And then the NSA – called out by The New York Times as our “spy-warehouse “ on Sunday – gets caught up into bidding wars between various investigative agencies seeking evidence. The Internal revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, the Post Office, and the Dog Catchers, all want their rightful share!
A potential for getting out of hand? You bet, as the self-spying agency variously leaks out capabilities and scope (intentionally or otherwise) that is only limited by the speed of their supercomputers.
Again, life and human nature has taught us that if a potential exists, it is ultimately used, no matter the original intentions. Witness the Atom Bomb! Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi operated much of the time only when coached that we would only use the weapon only as a last resort. “Only” being the operative lie.
Yes, reports are that this generation of intelligence data “consumers” are frustrated by denials of access by the NSA itself...but what of the next generations?
Even local law enforcement in Frederick County is impacted by data collection. On Saturday’s “The Forgotten Men” radio show (Noon on WFMD/930AM) Sheriff Chuck Jenkins had his say:
“I believe that the automatic photographic license plate readers violate the law of “probable cause.” He continues that “technology is not necessarily our friend. Even I don't know what’s true or not, that’s above my pay grade.” [about what the data is used for.]
Sheriff Jenkins said he was (at least partially) comforted by the fact that an unlawful order could be disobeyed, but that selective protection of whistleblowers sends out the wrong message.
Upon hearing the trusted sheriff’s remarks, I was also reminded of something he stood for. Sheriff Jenkins (much like Frederick County Commissioner President Blaine Young) is obsessed with providing citizens with value for what they spend on various services. Citations per dollar, etc.
As far as I have seen reported, few major terrorist plots have been spoiled for all of our paranoia, and some successful incidents have been covered up. Of course, we will never know for sure, as this is secret.
Unlike the A-Bomb, our “bang for the buck” is poor.
But with the “need to know basis,” and blanket security about performance...now you know why the Intelligence-Industrial-Complex is the cash cow that keeps on giving.